5 Questions: Emily Winslow (Jane Doe January)

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Emily Winslow’s new book, Jane Doe January: My Twenty-Year Search for Truth and Justice is a powerful memoir. In 1992, while Winslow was a student at Carnegie Mellon University, she was raped. It wasn’t until 2013 that a DNA match identified her rapist. Throughout the memoir, Winslow is firm in one goal: she wanted to see Arthur Fryar tried and jailed.

After his recent Tribune-Review interview with the author — who has also written three crime novels — Pittsburgh’s Rege Behe gave Winslow our “Littsburgh Questionnaire”…

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“With a shocking twist that rivals the best that fiction has to offer, this book is a triumph of heart over unbearable hurt. Everyone should read it.” —Sophie Hannah

“Jane Doe January should be required reading for any person who is in a position to interact with victims of crimes” —Retired Commander Bill Valenta of the Pittsburgh Police, the original detective from the case


51qlwNuJQvLWhat comes to mind when you think about Pittsburgh?

In physical terms, the PPG building, the library in Squirrel Hill, the shops in Shadyside. In a more general way, my youth! My Pittsburgh years were my college years.

What books are on your nightstand?

All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz is on the lip of my bathtub. I reread it at least once a year. It’s not a perfect novel, but the protagonist is brilliantly realized. She wants to be a writer and her mistakes, desires and desperations remind me in many ways of myself.

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film?

The Secret History by Donna Tartt, but only if it’s done BRILLIANTLY.

Do you believe in writer’s block?

I sometimes resist writing certain scenes or tackling certain difficult plot pieces, so I’ll go into a café with a bit of money, my work and nothing else. I’m not allowed to leave until I’ve done whatever I’ve been stuck on. Yes, I do keep buying drinks as long as I stay. Yes, this was more effective before smartphones!

If you could call up any fellow writer (dead or alive) for writing advice, who would that be and why?

I would love to talk with Lin-Manuel Miranda. His musical Hamilton is astonishing and his genius is equally in overall structure as in each perfect word.


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