Jennifer Pashley was at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn to discuss her novel, The Scamp. The book explores small town, post-industrial America through the eyes of two women. Rayelle is trying to escape her life, and signs on to help investigate the disappearance of women in the area. Khaki has a darker, more troubling past–she’s responsible for the disappearing women. Pashley discussed the novel with Julia Fierro, founder of the Sackett Street Writers Workshop and author of Cutting Teeth.
Both Rayelle and her cousin, Khaki, have point of view portions of the novel. Pashley says that when began writing the book, Khaki’s character developed her own voice and she felt it was necessary to provide Khaki with her own point of view.
However, she also couldn’t bring herself to read an entire novel from Khaki’s perspective. Khaki’s voice is too disjointed. As a result Rayelle as the linear narrative while Khaki is more like a poem or flash fiction. At one point Pashley explains that she experimented with writing from the victim’s point of view, but that grew unwieldy.
“I like things that are violent and intense but have a really slow burn,” Pashley says, describing how she feels about her writing.
She also wanted to make it clear that Khaki’s killings were not about revenge.
“I’ve pretty much always written frankly about sex,” she says adding, ” I don’t want it to be melodramatic.”
Sex can reveal a vulnerability in the moment she, says. And it is that undercurrent of uncertainty that she tries to capture when writing about sex.
While writing The Scamp, Pashley says she felt haunted by the sense of being a kid where something bad happened. “I wanted people to feel gutted.” It was like growing up in the shadows of something bad.
Now Pashley is working on revising a new novel. Actually, its an old novel. She had finished the first draft before The Scamp, but explains that it didn’t get the response she wanted at first.