A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed
Jessica Andrews

A Conversation with Jessica Andrews, Author of Newly Released Book “ Saltwater”

May 10, 2020
Jessica Andrews, photo credit: Seth Hamilton

Do you write for others or for yourself only? 
I think I write for a past version of myself. I am giving her the words I think she needed, that she didn’t have at the time.

Saltwater by Jessica Andrews
Saltwater by Jessica Andrews

Are you affected by other people’s appraisal of your work? Have you ever been hurt by them?
Lots of young, working-class women get in touch with me to tell them Saltwater makes them feel seen, and that is the best kind of criticism. Some critics have said called my protagonist self-indulgent, or complained that the male characters aren’t well fleshed-out, but, of course, that was intentional. My protagonist isn’t self-indulgent – she is just telling her story, and women like her don’t often get to do so. 

Do you feel that you and the characters in your book have been well understood by your readers?
Yes – readers sometimes say that the book puts words to feelings they didn’t have the language for – and those are my favourite kinds of books, too.

What books are currently on your book stand?
–       On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
–       Recollections of my Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit
–       Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan
–       Glass and God by Anne Carson 

What do you plan to read next? 
Slip of a Fish by Amy Arnold is next on my reading list.

What is next for you? 
I am currently working on another novel about desire and denial.

About the Author

Jessica writes fiction and poetry.

Her debut novel, Saltwater, explores mother-daughter relationships and identity in relation to place, social class and the body. It won the Portico Prize in 2020 and is published by Sceptre (UK) and FSG (US) and translated in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Greece.

She has been published by The Guardian, Stylist, Radio 4, The Independent, ELLE, AnOther, Somesuch StoriesCaught by the River and Papaya Press among others.

She co-runs and organises events with literary and arts magazine, The Grapevine and co-presents literary podcast, Tender Buttons.

She teaches Literature and Creative Writing to adults, young people and children.

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