I first heard Patricia Park read from RE JANE at her graduation reading from the Novel Incubator program, and immediately fell in love. RE JANE: A NOVEL is a modern-day interpretation of JANE EYRE set in New York and Seoul. It was named Editors’ Choice by the New York Times Book Review.
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the newly designed paperback, or RETWEET/SHARE this post to enter to win one! (US only; details below.) Now here’s Patricia in her own words:
Talk about one book that made an impact on you.
I first read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë when I was twelve. Jane, by her own admission, was “poor, obscure, plain, and little.” She was such a departure from the beautiful Disney heroines I was weaned on, and yet she held her own. It sent a very empowering message to me as a preteen girl…so much so that later on I decided to pen a novel deeply inspired by Jane Eyre, but set in present day.
When you were a teenager, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
I’ll tell you what I wanted to be as a child—a Catholic nun slash novelist. But then I envisioned having to go to weekly confession and repent for everything I just wrote about. So eventually I gave up the former and went with the latter.
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
Jane has a friend named Eunice Oh who graduated from MIT and works for Google. Eunice is one of those socially awkward techie types that deliberately disengages by speaking in a kind of code. She reverses her syntax—like Yoda—and makes continual references to Star Wars or Star Trek, Tolkien or Philip K. Dick. I went to a math and science high school, so Eunice types abounded, and it took a certain amount of decoding to understand what the heck they were talking about.
What’s your secret or not-so-secret superpower?
I’ve certainly mastered the art of kvetching, as anyone in my inner circle will tell you.
Have you ever tried writing in a different genre? How did that turn out?
I kept an “Outtakes” file for Re Jane, and it is, without exaggeration, 10x longer than the finished manuscript. One afternoon a few years into the writing, I grew so frustrated with generating so much writerly waste that I decided right then and there to pen a terrible historical romance novel under a pseudonym whose whole point was to peddle—nay, celebrate–its clichés. Think: “almond-shaped eyes,” “inky black strands of silk,” “jade-smooth skin.” It was going to be a Chosun Dynasty-era court romance about courtesans, and I wasn’t allowed to delete a single word or sentence during the writing. Of course that manuscript has never seen the light of day. (Yet.)
Patricia Park is the author of the acclaimed debut novel Re Jane (Penguin). A former Fulbright scholar, she has written for the New York Times, Guardian, Salon, and others. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and received her MFA from Boston University. A Queens native, she lives in Brooklyn.