Jane Naqvi recently took a moment to answer some questions about her riveting debut novel, Jackjumper.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
The idea arose from reflecting on my Tasmanian lifestyle combined with a penchant for travel, including the meeting of in-laws and people who had very different lifestyles from mine. Gradually though, the differences merged with similarities. Before I wrote a word of Jackjumper I found myself conjuring up characters and conflicts as I walked the beaches of home or people-watched from the sidelines overseas.
Which best captures the essence of this book do you think? Crime, mystery, family drama or historical fiction?
At its core it is the messiness of close human relationships, each leading to one or more of the elements of the story. The historical truths have instigated the messiness. And jack jumpers have certain traits of human beings.
Why did you decide to switch between past and present in this novel?
Everything that the characters do, every decision and every mistake they make, whether they realise it themselves or not, is due to an event in the past.
What were the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of writing this book?
I loved creating the characters, of knowing them, of speaking like them, of stuffing up like them and finding out what they might do next. Because I didn’t write it in a linear way the most challenging aspect in the latter part of the process was getting it into order.
How do you get into the zone of your world?
That was the easy part. It just rolled. I recalled real things that have have happened to me or ones I have observed in places like some of the events in the story – and then I rocked them up a notch.
What was your writing routine like while working on this book? Do you have a preferred time of day?
I usually wake up before six. I grab my laptop from my study then go back to bed with it on my knees for two or three hours. My bedroom silently looks out over fields, water and sunrises, an ambience that works for me when I write. However, when I edit I always do so in my study. There’s something formal about the editing process that demands a desk.
The illustrations throughout your novel are stunning. Can you tell me about how you worked with artist Alex Pitt? Did you first send her the scenes you wanted illustrated so she could read them before she began drawing?
Because most action in the story takes place in various houses, I edited out descriptions of the houses, as they were important but I thought describing each one would be unworkable. So, I asked Tasmanian artist and art teacher, Alex Pitt, if she could sketch them for me. I didn’t send her the scenes exactly but I showed her photographs of the kinds of houses I was after; we talked about them a lot, and the whole process worked really well. The book was definitely visually enhanced by them.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Isabelle Allende, Heather Rose, Arundhati Roy, Haruki Murakami, Michelle De Kretser, Liane Moriarty.
What was the most important part of the editing process for you?
Making the main characters, Jak and Annie, likeable. And with whom I could empathise in spite of their flaws.
Do you have a favourite character, or one you are most attached to?
Other than the main characters, I really like Arzo. The way she knew her world and the irreverent way she unwittingly spoke of it.
What are some of the most helpful writing tips you’ve been given?
Two immediately spring to mind: Listen to tips you hear. If one sounds good, try it. If it doesn’t work for you, modify it or ditch it and forget it and go your own way.
Don’t read too many books about how to write – but do read lots of good fiction.
Was Forty South always a publisher you wanted to approach?
Yes, because Forty South specialises in publishing Tasmanian works including fiction. Because Jackjumper is set in Tasmania it is partially a tale of heritage and identity with connections to the UK and India. Other than Aboriginal Tasmanians like Aunty Win and Gypsy in the story, all Tasmanians are the result of immigration and many maintain some personal affiliation with another part of the world. Hence our need for travel.
TasWriters thanks Jane for taking the time to answer our questions and we wish her all the best for her future writing endeavours.
Read more about Jackjumper and check out Alex Pitt’s beautiful illustrations on Jane’s website, https://jackjumpernovel.com