Behind the Words: Joscelyn Willett

Posted by on Sep 8, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Behind the Words: Joscelyn Willett

Joscelyn Willett is a writer whose work can be found in various journals, including Sun Dog Lit, Hoot and Cease, Cows. Here, we discuss her Issue Four story, “What About the Moon.

Cathy Ulrich: So much of this story hinges on this conversation between Alice and Jeremy about the passage of time. It’s a deeply important moment for Alice, and sort of frames how she views Jeremy throughout the story. Then, at the end, we find Jeremy has changed his stance, or, even worse, might not even remember the conversation. How do you think this realization changes Alice?

Joscelyn Willett: I think when you are young, and especially young and in love, you idolize people in a way that maybe you wouldn’t as an experienced adult. You put people on a pedestal, and people you fall in love with tend to become your entire world. You hang on every word. For Alice, Jeremy’s philosophies, though immature, represented something deep, connected, and meaningful. When Jeremy ultimately contradicts his own words, that connection breaks instantly; it is then that Alice realizes both of them are growing up…and away from one another.

At one point, Alice goes to bed with a boy at college to forget about Jeremy. It clearly doesn’t work, but she says it does. It’s a neat moment, really highlighting the lies people tell themselves. Did you ever consider having her admit it didn’t work?

Sometimes I feel like truth is more clearly seen in a lie.

The relationship between Alice and Jeremy is somewhat physical, but mostly metaphysical. Alice seems to be most attracted to the way he can get into her head. Or can he get into her head because of her feelings for him?

For Alice, the attraction goes deeper than the physical, though this goes back to being young, when hormones, inexperience, and idolization can create a perfect storm of emotional and physical attraction that feel like the same thing. Young love is powerful, and I wanted readers to connect with that and hopefully relate.

A few phrases get repeated once by each character, like they’re reflections of one another. Do you think Jeremy sees the influence Alice has on him the way she sees his influence on her, or is it more of a one-way street?

I don’t think Jeremy will understand Alice’s importance in his life until much later in life. Alice is a confidence booster for Jeremy: she hangs on his every word, shares his bed, and caters to him — even going so far as to help him fill out college applications. The two go very different routes after high school, and the chasm becomes too large to meet each other in the middle.

That phrase, “what about the moon” is deeply important to Alice and to the story. Was it always the title?

I chose this title after I wrote the story. In the story, the moon represents something both very small (careless words spoken by Jeremy) and very big (Alice’s fixation with Jeremy and his words), and that’s what the moon is — so small yet so very enormous. I think the metaphor could also be applied to love in itself. What we often see as something simple and pure is rather large and complicated.

There isn’t much physical description of the characters, except for the reference to Jeremy’s blue eyes. Is this intentional?

In a sense I suppose I wanted every reader to see a part of himself/herself in the characters. Avoiding physical descriptions just made sense to me.

Many writers revisit characters and scenarios. Have Alice and Jeremy shown up in any of your other stories?

So far, no, but I do believe both Jeremy and Alice have much more to show us.

Cathy Ulrich is a writer from Montana. Her work can be found in a variety of journals, including Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, Former Cactus, and Spry.