Angela Jane Fountas is a former Hugo House writer-in-residence and Jack Straw writer. She has been awarded an Artist Trust Fellowship and grants from the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and 4Culture. Her work has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, Quick Fiction, Diagram, Sentence, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama.
Before she became a Seattleite, Angela grew up in Oyster Bay-East Norwich on Long Island in New York with three sisters and two brothers. Despite an overactive imagination and a love of reading, Angela never dreamed of becoming a writer when she was a child. It wasn’t until her solo travel to Greece that she caught the writing bug by writing long letters about village life to her friends. With their encouragement, Angela finally sat down at a typewriter and began to write.
How would you describe your writing style? What do you hope to achieve by this particular writing style?
“I guess I would describe it as spare, quiet, understated prose. But also somewhat poetic. I like to write sentence by sentence, and then continually return to the beginning to move forward. I hope my readers are as surprised by where a story takes them as I am by where it takes me while I’m writing it.”
What inspired you to write “The Good Girl”?
“When I start a fiction, I don’t typically have a plan. Most of my work begins with a first line rather than a character or story idea. But when we took up my grandmother’s bones in 2009, I was struck by how different the ceremony was compared to when we had taken up my grandfather’s bones back in 1991, and I thought I might one day write about this—how much the village had changed since those who had emigrated after the civil war began to return to renovate their family homes for summer visits.
But as I wrote that first scene with the narrator standing at the foot of her grandmother’s grave, a sister suddenly appeared in the shadows and then that sister quickly became a twin sister and the story unfolded from there.”
Being a food-lover myself, I absolutely loved all the descriptions of cooking you included in story. Were the descriptions of cooking influenced by your personal experience around family cooking?
“Some of this was influenced by watching my grandmother cook our midday meals during the times I spent with her in the village. And some of it came out of a daydream I used to have of becoming a village girl myself and all the self-sustaining ways I would live. So I did some research to that end as well.”
Your story seems to cover the experience of a third-culture child, someone who grows up in a different culture than the ones that their parents grew up in. I remember at the reading when you mentioned that you are half-Greek; are the experiences of your main character influenced by your own?
“The village in my novel is the only real character, all the others are made up. But yes, the story itself is informed and inspired by some of the experiences I’ve had in the village and as a “third-culture child.” I’ve never heard that term before, but I like it. I guess I’m more of a “half third-culture child.” My mother was first generation for her mother, who was born and raised in Ireland. And I was first generation for my father, who was born and raised in Greece. “
As an upcoming writer, what does something like the Sou’Wester Award mean to you?
“It means the world to me to know that if “The Good Girl” is chosen, it will be in such good hands. I discovered Dock Street Press at the APRIL Book Expo this past spring, and I submitted because I am so impressed with the quality of their books, both inside and out. So it’s a thrill to think that they may publish my first novel—and it’ll be a dream come true to finally have a book in print.”