Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.
Jan Bowman’s story collection Flight Path & Other Stories (Evening Street Press -October 2015) is available through the publisher or Amazon. Her next story collection, Life Boat Drills for Women is under construction. She is working on a novel based on the last story from her published collection. Bowman’s stories have won awards and been finalists in a number of publication contests, including the Danahy Fiction Prize, Gival Press Awards, Glimmer Train, Roanoke Review, Broad River Review RASH Awards, Phoebe and “So-To-Speak” Fiction Contests, among others. Winner of the Roanoke Review Fiction Award, Bowman’s stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, and a Pen/O’Henry award.
Wolf: Thank you for visiting. What story are you working on now?
Jan: I am revising a new story with the working title: Dark Matter, that I envision as the fifth story in my new eight-story collection, tentatively titled: Life Boat Drills for Women: Survival Stories, that I hope to complete by late fall of this year. Then by early next year I hope to get the first draft of my yet untitled novel completed.
Wolf: Which of your characters is your favorite?
Jan: Generally, I find I like all of my characters, even the deeply flawed ones. In particular, I like the strong, kind, compassionate potential within all of them.
Since I don’t have repeating sessions with characters in my short stories, like I would if I wrote a novel, I can’t answer this fully until I finish my first novel that I’ve begun.
Wolf: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Jan: I like to garden, bird watch, travel, and read all kinds of books. Poetry helps me see and feel life more intensely. Nonfiction opens up new ideas and possibilities for plots. Fiction, particularly short stories help me appreciate the complexity of crafting and revision. Usually I have multiple books going at the same time and I read a chapter or story in each most evenings.
Wolf: What are your reading now?
Jan: Currently I am reading and rereading Mary Oliver’s Devotions, a collection of her favorite poems from her previous published poems. For nonfiction, I am reading Michio Kaku’s Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel. I’m reading Edna O’Brien’s Select Stories: The Love Object and also rereading an Alice Munro collection, Vintage Munro.
And recently, I reread John Hersey’s Hiroshima, because I am reminded how horribly stupid and dangerous our political leaders are when they engage in casual discussions about using nuclear weapons.
Wolf: Wow. That’s a lot to keep track of. What is the meanest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Jan: I try not to ever do mean things to anyone. No good comes from that.
We are all flawed humanity. Most of us do our best to be kind. I make it a practice to avoid mean people, and before I remove them from my life, I do them a kindness of telling them why I don’t enjoy being around them, giving them the opportunity to become more aware of their best potential.
Wolf: What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done to your characters?
Jan: I leave them with a thread of hope. Always leave people room to grow, to hope, to change, and have a better tomorrow. I’m not talking happy endings. I’m talking about hope. Characters need this, as do readers and writers.
Wolf: Do you consider yourself as a cat person, or a dog person?
Jan: I love both cats and dogs. I’ve enjoyed the company of two cats and a dog at the same time on many occasions throughout my life. They’ve all become great friends, and they grieve along with us when one of them dies. At this particular time, I have only one cat, having recently lost a very old cat and dog. My current cat often lies beside me on the desk as I write. I read passages aloud and if she purrs, I know I’m on the right track.
Wolf: Sorry for your loss. I know what it’s like to lose a furry friend. If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Jan: I would like to have a cloak for invisibility and the ability to touch the most compassionate possibility within individuals. I would go out into the political world and try to touch the heart of even the most evil people, so they would not continue to do horrible things. I would want people who continue to show no compassion to others to have a powerful moment of truth that would shake them to the core. I would hope they would decide to make up for their past transgressions or remove themselves from the world.
Wolf: That would be a great super power. Today’s world is scary. Speaking of, the world is about to end. What is the first thing you do?
Jan: Assess the cause and evaluate the possibility for survival. Then gather the needed survival tools already available to me, and help others around me, organize a plan to help each other within the community, because transportation would likely be limited. And, if all else fails, I always keep a bottle of champagne chilling, for those moments we need to celebrate or to say good-bye. And. Yes. It is a bottle that is changed out monthly so it doesn’t go bad.
Wolf: So glad you could stop by.
Jan is a retired MCPS teacher, researcher and writer with a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. She taught advanced journalism and AP English Lit. and Creative Writing at Walt Whitman in Bethesda, MD for many years.
Publisher: Evening Street Press
Read Reviews of Flight Path & Other Stories on Amazon and Goodreads