Smoking With Jane Sales

Read the Story March 15, 2004

The Côte d’Azur? We’re painfully jealous! Does living around all that beauty inspire or distract you?

I’ve only lived in France since the end of last August, so I’ve not had many warm summer’s days competing with my writing yet! I’m a keen photographer, so I think that later on it’s going to be tough not to be distracted by the amazing light we get down here.

You must have a real love of the language – some of the word choices in this piece are just lovely. Is it as effortless for you as you make it seem, or do you struggle with finding exactly the right image or phrase?

Thank you! I’m quite a slow writer, and I agonise over word choices for what seems like hours. My husband sometimes wonders how I find the will to revise a piece for the 6th or 7th time – but the truth is that I find it much easier and more enjoyable than starting something new. The frightening freedom in a blank Word document!

What other historical events did you consider including in this piece? Are you as fascinated with the life this woman must have led as we are?

I didn’t! The events I first came up with meshed nicely with the age of my main character at that time, and I didn’t have to struggle to choose between them. I would like to expand the piece and discover more about my protagonist—but there’s a danger of losing something in the process. Flash isn’t just a very, very short novel—ah, that’s the next question.

How do you feel about flash as a literary form?

Flash should be very clever, pithy, very bitter and very funny. This is the point of it. If a novel is a long Sunday lunch, something you want to dally over, then flash is like caviar—the whole of the taste of the sea is concentrated there. You certainly wouldn’t want to eat too much of it. (Though perhaps I could be persuaded, if you’re offering.)

What was it that first inspired you to write?

As a child, wanting not to lose the stories I made up in my head. And escape from the everyday world has always been a motivation, I think.

About the Author:

Jane Sales has recently followed her husband to the Côte d'Azur, and is trying to become a writer. She lived in Japan for 2 years.