Thursday, June 8, 2023

Q&A with J.A. Wright




J.A. Wright is the author of the new novel Eat and Get Gas. She also has written the novel How to Grow an Addict.


Q: What inspired you to write Eat and Get Gas, and how did you create your character Evan Hanson?


A: My father had a quirky sense of humor and often referred to the roadside café and gas station his parents owned in the mid-1960s as Eat and Get Gas. It wasn't the correct name, and my grandparents didn't like it when he said it, but I did. It made me laugh, and I often wondered what kind of family would run a place with that name.


It’s never been difficult for me to create characters. Evan was easy to create once I caught her voice.

Q: Did you need to do any research to write the novel, and if so, did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I only spent a few weeks researching the long arm of PTSD on veterans. Growing up close to several active military bases in Washington state when the Vietnam war draft was initiated, I experienced first-hand the impact it had on families around me.


Several boys from my neighborhood were drafted, and it seemed to me that every adult around me was on edge from then on. When a school friend's older brother went to Canada to avoid going to Vietnam, she told me about it and made me swear never to tell anyone because he might go to prison if I did. When she moved to Texas at the end of the school year, I was relieved.


Then, when I was 13, my mother married an Army officer who had recently returned from his second tour in Vietnam (infantry). For the rest of his life, he often experienced vivid war flashbacks and night terrors.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I did not know. The ending arrived one afternoon while I was writing something unrelated to the novel. At first, I wasn't sure it would work, but after several rewrites and a good editor's help, it came together. 


Q: Author Anne Leigh Parrish called the book “A powerful story about a sad chapter in America's history that is thoroughly modern, relevant, and inspiring.” What do you think of that description, and how do the events you write about tie into those of today?


A: I think her description is spot on. It's evident to me that Anne caught Evan's sadness and frustration in the first few paragraphs. She followed the thread of Evan adapting to an uncomfortable living situation brought on by her dad's involvement in the Vietnam war.


Political decisions were made in the early 1970s that caused great discord in the USA, which is not so different from what's been happening lately.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Short stories and flash fiction are my new interest.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: My website address is I’ll post news about interviews, PR updates and where to buy as often as possible. I do hope that readers who are users of Goodreads will review Eat and Get Gas; a novel and advance reading copies can be requested from my publicist,


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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