Friday, November 17, 2023

Q&A with Jill Charlotte Thomas




Jill Charlotte Thomas is the author of the new novel The More Beyond. Also a playwright, poet, and songwriter, she lives in Maine.


Q: What inspired you to write The More Beyond, and how did you create your character Morton Guthrie?

A: I wrote The More Beyond from self-experience. I guess you could call it faction (fiction based on fact, a la Truman Capote). A lot of TMB is embellished, but I did attempt suicide twice in one week, and afterwards I checked myself into a mental health facility for two and a half months. I was diagnosed as acutely depressed. 


Regarding the parents, they’ve always been favorite characters to write about. My father would probably have a hemorrhage if he were alive (very Holden Caulfield).


My mother read the beginning, and she was upset about the mother in the novel having awful feet. That really upset her. Not the kleptomania, the pills, the crazy episodes, nor anything else in the novel. For my mother, being described with awful feet was the worst! I almost took it out.


I guess writing about my parents keeps them alive for me. My mother was my favorite audience.


Q: The Kirkus Review of the book calls it a “sensitive and absorbing portrait of a woman who is braver than she knows.” What do you think of that description?

A: I’m beyond grateful for their amazing critique, but this question is one for my therapist to help me muddle through.

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 went back and forth on whether or not Morton should die at the end. I consulted with friends and associates who read the book before I decided to publish it. So yes, I changed it a lot, but I’m happy with how it turned out.


Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have a number of projects going on right now. I have a musical I’m working on called The Nuthouse. (I guess I have a brand?) I’ve written a children’s book, which I might self-publish. And my editor has recommended I write more about Morton.


So, I thought I’d make TMB into a trilogy, TMB being the second book. I’m just beginning the first book, Insanity Runs in My Family.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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