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JANE DONOHUE

IN CONVERSATION


JANE DONOHUE:  I am a high school senior in New Hampshire. I write long-form fiction, short stories, and poems. I plan to major in English with a concentration in Creative Writing in college.

 


WHAT INSPIRED ONE OF YOUR POEMS?

I, like almost every other kid my age, grew up wanting nothing more than to live in the Harry Potter universe. Everything about the books appealed to me; the discoveries, the magic, the adventure, the secret societies, the camaraderie between these young kids who took matters into their own hands to save the world. I’ve never grown out of that wish. Over the past few months, especially in light of the Florida shooting, I think myself and a lot of other American high schoolers are realizing that what we’re dealing with is, in a twisted way, what we wanted so badly as kids. The adults in charge right now won’t listen to us, so we have to take to the streets and protest and scream for change in order to feel safe. ‘Tin-Can Map’ is about that realization and the irony that comes with it. The near-death experiences and the battles against a seemingly insurmountable evil I’d read about seemed exciting and glamorous as a child. But now that I’m in the position of the witches and wizards I so admired, I’m terrified. I and millions of young people feel ignored and unsafe, so we have to go out and fight an evil that won’t listen
to a word of we say without accusing us of being ‘whiny’ and ‘entitled’. We’re not entitled. We just want to go to school without worrying about the nearest evacuation route. ‘Tin-Can Map’ is about growing into the place of revolutionaries and suddenly understanding that what children’s books could never fully capture was the fear and frustration that came hand in hand with fighting for our rights.

TELL US AN OBSCURE THING YOU FIND INTERESTING ABOUT THE WORLD?

Oddly specific feelings that somehow manage to be relatable. I was telling one of my friends about a playlist I made and he asked me what the mood of the playlist’s music was. I responded, “Kind of like when it’s super late at night and you and your friends spontaneously decide to drive to the grocery store and get a roll of raw cookie dough for a snack.” He looked at me with wide eyes before saying, “That’s incredibly specific, but I know exactly what you’re talking about.” That’s funny to me, the shared emotions found in seemingly niche experiences.

WHAT ODD, FUNNY OR INTERESTING FACT CAN YOU SHARE ABOUT YOUR WRITING HABITS OR PROCESS?

For me, poetry is an act of catharsis, so I write it as stream-of-consciousness. Without punctuation or line breaks or usage of the delete key, I put everything I’m thinking onto the page until I feel I’ve said what needs to be said. After that, I snip away lines and reconfigure the formatting. I play with words and phrases until the poem is almost unrecognizable from the original heap of unfiltered thoughts. The final result says everything the initial outpouring did, but in a gentler way, in a way that might even offer a solution.

How important is language and/or word choice to your writing?

Word choice is huge for me. If I feel the connotation of a word is even slightly off, I go in search of the Goldilocks alternative. When writing fiction, I often have to underline the slightly wrong word for later editing and move on, or else I’ll obsess over synonyms for hours instead of, you know, actually writing.

Are there any themes or reoccurring threads that you try to explore in your writing? 

Environmental awareness has always been important to me, and I find myself constantly worrying about all the harm humans are doing to the planet. Those worries tend to manifest themselves in my fiction. I like to write about nature as something that has its own agenda; we’ve taken so much away from it that it’s become bitter and vengeful. I’m infatuated with the idea of forests reclaiming the land that was once theirs and growing over human structures. The idea of the Earth re-growing and healing itself after humans are gone is comforting to me.

Is there something you find particularly difficult about the writing process?

Not editing while writing. It’s always so tempting to tweak words or reconfigure paragraphs while I write. In those moments, Terry Pratchett reminds me: “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” That always helps me to move past the imperfections and keep writing.

How much research do you do when writing?

None of my writing is heavily research-based, but I do research whenever necessary. A lot of my research deals with religion, mythology, belief systems, and sciences. I think knowing what people believe in helps to better understand their personality, which is why doing that kind of research is helpful to flesh out characters. Whenever I’m not absolutely, 100% certain of something, there is research to be done. There’s so much information available to us (quite literally) at our fingertips. It
would be a waste not to make use of it.

Do you have any hidden gems in your books that only a few people will recognize?

I wouldn’t say so. I think a lot of the books I read are well-known within their genres but aren’t so recognizable to people who aren’t frequent readers of those genres. People who don’t religiously read fantasy might not know about Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle or Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards, but avid fantasy fans know those series well. Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, though acknowledged as a classic by many, still isn’t a household name. They’re the kind of books where you’ve either read them at least twice and know every facet of every character and plot point, or you’ve never heard of them.

LASTLY, WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK 'KINGDOMS IN THE WILD'?

I think of writing that is vast in its subject matter, covering the lives and experiences of people all across the planet. In every piece on ‘Kingdoms in the Wild’ I read, there is a sense of wonderment and curiosity. That’s something I love about the works ‘Kingdoms in the Wild’ features; the fact that even with so much information surrounding us, there are still people who have questions that can only be answered in prose and poetry.

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ABOUT IN CONVERSATION

What makes a writer write? What resides behind the impulse to create a work of art?  We have always been interested in these questions here at KITW. Incredibly, we’ve received such varied responses to the same questions from each of our published writers, that we thought we’d share.

We hope you enjoyed your visit to Kingdoms in the Wild, if you did, please tell a friend. Thank you for your support.

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CREDITS: in this issue
Author: Jane Donohue
Editor: Shompole N.L & Lydia S.
Graphic Design: Shompole, N.L.