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Since You Ask


Since You Ask is about the origins of sexual compulsion, and one young woman’s attempts to be free.

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Interview with Louise Wareham by Raul Deznermio

In a recent glowing review of Since You Ask, Booklist called the novel “potentially controversial.” Do you agree with this assessment, and if so, were you aware of this aspect when you were writing it?

Yes, I think it is potentially controversial. We have this belief system set up that there are victims and perpetrators. And because she is a victim, my character would like to believe this, too. But she can’t. She knows she is playing a role in her victimization. That she is doing this to herself is the cause of her distress.

The other problem with victims is that they have no power. Or they have a kind of negative power. And I am interested in the power of responsibility, in the power of something new, of getting up one day and saying, ‘Well, what will I do today? What will I take into my life—and what will I not?’

The structure of Since You Ask is fairly fragmented—in part because it moves between time frames. Was this narrative style something you set out to do from the beginning, or did it evolve as you went along?

My first drafts were about finding the story and were more chronological. In the end, though, I wasn’t too inspired by this. Once I knew the material, I got to start over with three different time periods. It was much more interesting to me, let me focus on language and the way the main character lives with all times in her at once—one of the reasons why she ends up in a hospital.

How long did it take you to write Since You Ask? How many drafts did you do? During the process did the book go through any fundamental transformations?

It took two versions before I got the voice I wanted—and the use of time. Then I got Since You Ask. That’s three versions, two years each. I think I will let you do the math there.

Since You Ask won the James Jones Literary Society First Novel Award. Before winning this award, were you familiar with the work of James Jones? How did you find about about the JJLS?

I replied to an ad in Poets & Writers. I hadn’t heard of James Jones, but as it turned out my grandfather who lives in New Zealand knew his work well. So that has been nice. The Society helped me a lot at a crucial time.

What were some of your literary inspirations with Since You Ask?

Some books, a friend told me recently, just create grooves in your brain that you can never erase. I’ve felt that way about a few books, most of them short and dark and intense. I really Jean Rhys and James Salter. I like intensity, in language and between people: I like Faulkner, Kincaid, Frisch. “No Place for You, My Love,” by Eudora Welty—that is one of my favorite stories.

You have lived in various places across the world (Mississippi, New Zealand, New York City, etc.). Where are you living now, and do plan to stay put for a while?

Right now I am in Northern Vermont. Sometimes I think that home is where you went to high school, so for me that’s New York. But I’m not sure where I will end up.

On a related note, does the location where you live have much of an impact on your writing at that time?

I just spent a year in New Zealand and writing about “America” seemed much easier there—as if the entire place were thrown up on a screen for me.

Are you working on another book right now?

Yes. It’s called Miss Me A Lot Of and is about the daughter of a philandering New York City investment banker. She has an interest in her neighbor, who may or may not be connected to the Mafia.