Interview with the 2023 3rd Prize Winner - Jane Miles
Meet the Winners!
Jane grew up in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. At twenty, she joined the Navy and travelled the world. Since coming ashore, she’s kept the lights on by working countless top-secret office jobs. She wrote her first novel after reconnecting with her love of writing during the Melbourne lockdowns. Jane now lives in the Netherlands, with her partner and their Australian cat. She is currently working on a very dark psychological thriller.
We were intrigued to hear more about her inspiration for the story...
How did you feel when you found out that you'd won?I couldn’t help but feel relieved, only because it validates all those lonely hours at the keyboard! It’s a wonderful thing to have someone appreciate a story, and because of that, I am forever grateful to Exeter Writers.
Where did you get the idea?A difficult question, and one that I’ve given a lot of thought. Like many others, I spent the pandemic confined and subject to strict restrictions. For me, an inconvenience, freedom for some, and others still, it was life and death. Everyone has a story about that time, and it almost always centres around control or the lack thereof. With The Curfew, I was trying to explore the idea that power is not always a wielded sword. If people are the sum of their experiences and the outcome of how the world chooses to see them, then their reactions to control also differs. Like the various ways people responded during the pandemic, taking or losing power is complex and the outcome dependent on the individual. This all sounds very thoughtful, but, at the time, it didn't seem to have any real starting place. It's only now that I can see how it all began.
What is your writing process? Pen and paper or straight to screen? Do you have a routine?I prefer to plan for longer forms, but with a shorter piece, I like to be freer with my process. Usually, I’ll think of a situation or a theme. Later, I’ll think about the scene boundary. One or two characters is enough, anymore and it becomes too complicated. Most times I don’t know the ending until I’m halfway through, then I’ll rework the beginning to mirror the finish. It seems simple, but the devil is in the detail and, of course, the right point of view. Luckily, with shorter forms, it’s easier to rewrite the story a few (dozen) times to see all the angles.
How would you sum up your story in a sentence or 2?After her parents' murder, a teen girl becomes the face of the curfew, a new law that keeps men inside at night. When her teacher asks her to debate the curfew's validity, the teen must make a choice: either shy away or lean into a role she never wanted.
Thank you Jane. If you haven't read Jane's story yet you can find it here!