Wednesday 11 January 2017

A Conversation with Addison Jones

Addison Jones is the author of four novels and a collection of short stories, all written under the name of Cynthia Rogerson. Her short stories have been broadcast, anthologised, short-listed and included in literary magazines. She holds a RLF Fellowship at Dundee University, and supervises for the University of Edinburgh’s creative writing program.

Set near San Francisco, this warm and funny novel follows the fortunes and failures of Jack and Milly for sixty years. They marry in 1952, and typical of post-war couples, shift up a class. Optimistic and full of plans, they see themselves living the American Dream. Through the years they cling to each other despite having little in common. But the clinging doesn’t always preclude infidelity or disappointment, and the social changes they live through impact on their relationship in complex and surprising ways. Ultimately, though, what holds them together is stronger than what pulls them apart. This is a love story that tells the truth – or one or two truths – about love and marriage.

‘...a master of fresh and sparky writing. A spirited and inventive novel by a Scots writer of considerable gifts.’

                                                                                    -The Guardian

We'd like to thank Addison/Cynthia for taking part in A Conversation and wish her good writing and good luck with the forthcoming novel.

Tell us of your journey as a writer 

My writing life began not long after my reading life began – probably about seven years old, when I got my first diary. I could imagine nothing finer than being a writer. For the next twenty years or so, I honed my writing mostly through letters, essays and diaries. I was able to think more clearly when writing. I wrote the occasional short story or poem but didn’t really take writing fiction seriously till my late thirties. with four young children I was in desperate need of an alternative reality. I read for escape, and writing was a natural extension of that.

How do you see your role as a writer and what do you like most about it? 

I don’t really think of my writing in those terms, as if my writing has a purpose to the wider world. If it does at all, beyond escape and entertainment, perhaps it’s to allow people to understand they are not alone in whatever weird way they secretly perceive themselves. I try to present a forgivable version of human frailty.

I mostly enjoy – not the finished product - but the process when it is going well. Those rare moments when I suddenly love what I have written.

Have you ever created a character who you dislike but find yourself empathising with? 

YES. It is my goal with every single story.

What has been your experience of writing about diverse characters? 

I can’t imagine any way to write that does not involve this. It is not easy to create and sustain individuals who are quite different – but anything else would not be worth writing or reading. Even folk who appear similar on the surface, are always incredibly complex and contradictory, once that surface is scratched. It is my job to scratch the surface.

If you could be transported instantly, anywhere in the world, where would you most like to spend your time writing? And why? 

I like my life as it is, where it is. On the other hand, I can happily write anywhere, so maybe it is a moot question.

What is the one book you wish you had written? 

The Heart is Lonely Hunter by Carson MacCullers

What advice do you have for would be novelists/writers? 

WRITE A LOT. (Expect nothing, just keep at it.) LIVE YOUR LIFE – fully and perceptively. Observe, listen, think hard, dream hard too.

What are you currently working on? What can we look forward to reading? 

A collection of stories based on characters who share a bed – but not your typical married couple or romance. More old person and carer, gay guy and straight woman, homeless person and dog, etc.

Who is your favourite literary character from childhood and why? 

Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thank you to Sandstone Press for the review copy

You can follow Addison/Cynthia on Twitter: @cynthiarogerson

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