Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Interview with Kathleen Jabs

What is the title/working title of the book?
The title is Black Wings

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I worked on a series of short stories centered on women at the US Naval Academy for almost two years before I started on Black Wings.  After so many drafts, I’d finally found the voice for Bridget Donovan, the main character in Black Wings, but I didn’t have the whole conflict. One day I had a vision of a female pilot crashing into the sea. The line, “Audrey Richards wanted to fly,” came to me.  I wanted to know who Audrey was and what had happened to her, why she crashed. Everything pointed back to her time at the Academy. The stories from the Academy became entwined with the real life quest Bridget undergoes to discover what really happened to Audrey.

What genre does your book fall under?
Black Wings is a mystery but also a literary thriller.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Audrey would be played by Jessica Chastain. Bridget would be played by Jennifer Lawrence with her hair short and dark or Ellen Page. Captain Fangmeyer would be played Tommy Lee Jones. Jude Duggan would be played by Ryan Gosling.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Black Wings is a mystery centered on Navy Lieutenant Bridget Donovan and her quest to discover what really happened when her former Naval Academy roommate, Audrey Richards, dies in a botched take-off from an aircraft carrier.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
 The first draft took about two years, but the entire project took 10 years, which included two years where the novel languished in a drawer. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I’m a lifelong reader and I always wanted to write a book. I entered the Naval Academy in 1984, the eighth class to accept women. I had no idea what I was getting into or what military life entailed. For a long time, I didn’t write about the military or set my stories in military settings, but once I started, I kept going. I loved exploring the world of girls/women trying to navigate their way through the military training as they chased different dreams. 

While I was writing, I had a vision of a female Navy pilot crashing into the sea. I wanted to understand what happened to Audrey and why she crashed and it kept going back to her time at the Naval Academy. The only person who would be able to put the pieces together was her roommate, Bridget Donovan. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Black Wings features secret societies, an inside peek at inner workings of the Naval Academy honor court, a glimpse at the early days of women in combat aviation and realistic settings from Annapolis, Norfolk and the Pentagon.

The title, Black Wings is both a reference to a physical object and a metaphor. In the Navy, people who are warfare qualified, such as aviators, wear a device on the pockets of their uniforms. In shorthand, the aviator device is referred to as “wings.” Throughout the novel Audrey is confronted with sets of black wings, which are meant to scare her away from flying.

Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m represented by a small press, Fuze Publishing. I was especially lucky to reconnect with Molly Tinsley, my former advisor at the US Naval Academy and one of the co-founders of Fuze. She taught me writing 20+ years ago and helped launch Black Wings into print.

Thanks Kathleen for stopping by Two Ends of the Pen. I have read Black Wings and loved it. Here's the link to my review:

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