I am very excited to welcome Jessica Brockmole here to A Bookish Affair as a part of the HFVBT tour of "Woman Enters Left."
1. Since What inspired you to write "Woman Enters Left?"
WOMAN ENTERS LEFT came from a number of ideas I’d tucked away in my Future Story Ideas Box. I’d wanted to write about the radium girls, about early Hollywood, about road travel and Model Ts. Route 66 and divorce ranches. Loving a friend from afar. All of these came together to tell Louise, Ethel, and Florrie’s stories. But ultimately the book was inspired by the ephemera I used to research it. Without all of my road maps, travel guides, budget books, postcards, recipe booklets, and grocery ads I might not have thought of all the ways to tell a story. It isn’t just narrative that can make up a story, but all of the documents we use to record our lives.
2. Cross country road trips seem to have a special place in American lore. Why do you think we as Americans are still so drawn to road trips today?
With the vastness of the U.S., it’s easy to think of the road trip as something almost quintessentially American. This is a country it could take half a year to cross via covered wagon. Even when the transcontinental railroad cut that time drastically, it still took more time and money than all Americans could devote to travel. It wasn’t until the advent of low-cost, relatively reliable automobiles in the 1920s that middle-class Americans began to take to the roads in increasing numbers. With a picnic basket or a tent in the back, they could go for a jaunt into the countryside or, with a road map and a lot of gumption, set off to one of the many newly opened National Parks. Not only did reaching such places really require a car in those early years, but they also required a lot of fortitude in an era before frequent service stations or regular paving. That sense of adventure also was something quintessentially American and the road trip began to move into American mythology as a rite of passage.
3. What’s the best road trip that you yourself have ever taken?
I’ve taken a lot of fun ones over the years with friends and family. Last summer my husband, our kids, and I took our new truck to the road. Two thousand five hundred thirty-nine miles, eight states, six museums, four national parks, millions of fossils, more than a few bison, and an unspecified number of historical markers equaled one awesome family road trip!
4. Who is your favorite character in “Woman Enters Left” and why?
This is a hard question to answer; I spent so long with all of them that I consider them all really good friends! As much as I love my main characters, when asked about favorites, I’m always drawn to my secondaries. Carl is a character who grew from a background villain to a complex and interesting character integral to the novel. I would love to sit down with Carl and Hank and one of their jigsaw puzzles and hear their story.
5. What is your favorite scene in this book and why?
I love the scene where Louise pushes her car out of the snow. It’s so emblematic of the strength she’s discovered on the drive. I also love the quiet scene in the tent with Ethel and Florrie being nervous while the air smells like soap. I love Louise and Arnie meeting over that flashbacked library table. So many! But the one that always (still) makes me cry is A.L. escaping everyone and covering her mama to keep her warm.
6. If you could bring three people, fictional or non-fictional, with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?
I’d take Dolores Umbridge, Bill Sykes, and Bob Ewell…and then I’d jump in my secret hidden helicopter and leave them there. If there’s room on the boat, let’s squeeze in the man who shot Bambi’s mom.