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Julia May Jonas Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Julia May Jonas
Julia May Jonas is a director, writer, and founder of the theater company Nellie Tinder. She teaches theater at Skidmore College and lives with her family in Brooklyn.

The idea for her narrator in “Vladimir” came to her back around 2018, when there was a slew of allegations against all these prominent men coming to light, and it got her thinking about the men’s wives, and she realized how many assumptions that she had held about said wives (that they were each long-suffering and saintly, among other things) and how reductive her own unexamined opinion of them actually was. So she wanted to explore, and possibly upend, some of these assumptions.

Julia began working with this character inside a play at first, which she wound up putting in a drawer, however the character that is The Wife stuck with her. As the pandemic hit and she had a huge theatrical project get postponed, she decided she’d attempt writing prose, something that she had attempted a number of times yet always set aside when she would get called on to work on some play. She knew she had a novel right after she had written the very first chapter.
Her narrator is a person that is undergoing some immense changes, both externally and internally, physically and spiritually, actively and passively. She believes a powerful protagonist is always going to be on the verge, somebody that is in the process of transforming, either in subtle or drastic (like in her narrator’s case) ways, and who’s confronting that transformation process.

The writing process came out quite a lot like an extremely long monologue, since she’s working these things out for an audience, in a way. And whenever you are working things out for an audience, you are making choices on a consistent basis, about what you’re admitting and what you are allowing and what you’re not admitting nor allowing.

Which all helped Julia really situate herself inside her voice. When she does that, and when she thinks through the voice of her narrator, and thinking about her talking with somebody or telling somebody, that she felt as though she could work through what this narrator would say, what she wouldn’t say, what she did or didn’t see.

She’d actually began the book with some chapters in first person, before switching perspective, and had it in third person, focusing on Vladimir and his point of view. But in the end, she felt like this was all about somebody’s fantasy, and their desires to make their fantasy a reality, and how this pushes the book itself into a fantasy. It became apparent to her that the force was going to come from staying inside of her head for the duration.

With her background as a playwright she figures she is more inclined to think more in terms of events and scenes while writing and using them as this container for all the other pleasures that come with fiction (perspective, memory, digression, internal reactions, emotional insights, and all that wonderful character development not possible in a play). Plays usually are about the spaces in between the lines, or scenes: all the unsaid, the jumps and the skips, and Julia believes that informs how she moved the story of “Vladimir” forward.

She also believes that playwriting also informs how she thinks about rhythm, both in the prose style and the structure of a novel from beginning to end. When she’s a novelist, she wants to get deeply into a character, to be a good bedside companion, to be truthful, yet also maintain an energy that keeps a reader wanting to turn to that next page. And obviously being a playwright helps out with dialogue, since she’s spent a considerable amount of her time pondering how people talk, their emotion they put behind it, what they actually say, and what they leave out.

This narrator character was such a pleasure for Julia to spend so much time with. She enjoyed writing all of this woman’s digressions—whether they were about her role as a mom, her insights about her colleagues, her past, ideas about meal preparation, or her opinions about her students. Julia appreciates too that, whether rightly or wrongly, amid every bit of her anger and insecurity, she still acts.

She is a flawed character, who can be selfish, harsh, judgmental, myopic, impulsive (among other things), yet also has some moments of true self-awareness. This is a woman that is able to examine her own mind and explore how exactly she could be falling short. Julia enjoyed writing about this woman, that isn’t young anymore yet is still exploring her own relationship to ambition.

And the fact that she’s an English professor allowed Julia the opportunity to make many allusions and references to other pieces of literature that are dear to herself while keeping true to her narrator’s voice.

“Vladimir” is the first stand alone novel and it was released in the year 2022. A beloved English professor is facing a slew of accusations against her professor husband by some former students. This situation gets even more complex when she develops an obsession of her own.

We are introduced to our deliciously incisive narrator with her saying she loved old men as a child and could tell that they loved her, too. She is a popular English professor whose charismatic husband at the exact same small liberal arts college is being investigated for the inappropriate relationships that he had with his former students.

The couple have long had a mutual understanding when it comes to their own extra-marital pursuits, however with these new allegations, life has become a whole lot less comfortable for each of them. When our narrator gets more and more infatuated with Vladimir, who is a married and celebrated novelist that has just arrived on the campus, their tinder box of a world comes dangerously close to blowing up.

Julia May Jones takes us into charged territory, a place where the boundaries of morality bump right up against the impulses of the human heart. This novel also perfectly captures the political and personal minefield of this current moment in time, and exposes the nuances and the gray area between desire and power.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Julia May Jonas

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