Saturday, October 8, 2022

Q&A with Jeff Stein




Jeff Stein's late wife, Annie O'Neill Stein, was the author of the new novel Exit Wounds. An actress and writer, her work appeared in a variety of publications, including More and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. She lived in Los Angeles. 


Q: First of all, I'm so sorry for your recent loss, and I appreciate your willingness to do this interview. 


What do you think inspired your wife to write Exit Wounds?


A: I think it might have been more of an act of compulsion rather than an inspiration. Much of the book's early chapters have been influenced by her early childhood and there was much to express that was previously locked in the background shadows. It was necessary for some light to flood the darkness and allow it to thereby bring some degree of peace.


This is a novel, not a memoir, but I think all artists get their inspiration from the life they’ve lived.


Q: Do you have a sense of how the book's title was chosen, and what it signified for her?

A: Exiting is the act of leaving but that does not mean without consequences. The main character, Laura, spends the entire course of the novel seeking some level of salvation from the psychic wounds of her childhood.


Most of us leave someplace at some time, families, marriages, schools, jobs, etc. And often there are scars of previous events that can possibly heal with time if they are faced full-on.


Q: The producer Moritz Borman said of the book, “It isn't a happy book and it’s not a sad book. It’s a brave, raw story of redemption infused with clever and witty black Irish humor.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think Moritz's description is pretty accurate. Though not a light happy book, Annie's wit and sense of humor keep it from being a maudlin slog. She has a clever way with words and her style is unique to her. I don’t believe another writer’s voice could be confused with her one-of-a-kind voice.


Q: How would you describe your wife's writing style?


A: I think her style is almost conversational. She writes as she talks, infusing her narrative with sharp and witty observations. I find Exit Wounds to be very readable and a quick read at that.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: Annie poured her heart and soul into Exit Wounds, and it was a cruel twist of fate that she passed away only weeks before the book was published, especially since she was writing it over a period of many years.


The very positive reception that it’s received so far would have made her feel validated for her writing abilities and for the many years of hard work that she put into it. I wish she was still here to hear it all.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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