Fall Reading Series Continues at Weber Fine Arts Building


Sara Meadows

Jaye Viner speculates on speculative fiction. Photo courtesy of UNO College of Fine Arts and Media.

Jaye Viner kicked off another night of the Fall Reading Series on Nov. 3 at the Weber Fine Arts Building.

Viner read three excerpts from her debut novel, “Jane of Battery Park,” which is a Romeo and Juliet romantic thriller where Romeo comes from Hollywood royalty, and Juliet comes from a family that puts celebrities on trial for their sins. Falling in love is easy, says Viner, but staying in love once their families find out is something else.

Viner describes herself as a disabled feminist speculative fiction writer, meaning she is interested in telling stories that expand our cultural norms — specifically, the norms of what kind of characters get to be part of certain stories. Speculative fiction refers to any kind of storytelling that involves things that do not exist in our current world, says Viner.

She says this includes fantasy, science fiction, magical realism and many other things in her debut novel.

“When I have an idea for a project, I think about it for several weeks (sometimes months) before sitting down to a blank Word document,” says Viner.

Describing her writing process, Viner says that in this pre-writing time, she makes space in her routine to think about the story, to take notes and to think about what kind of stories, themes and ideas she wants to incorporate. When first starting something, she tries to do so on a day where she can write for an extended period without any interruptions.

Once she gets started, she normally has enough momentum to return to the project in short increments as it fits into her schedule. Because she does a lot of thinking beforehand, her first drafts tend to come out very fast, which normally ends up being an exploration draft.

“All gained knowledge, no matter what it’s about, can be incorporated into a story,” says Viner.

As a child, Viner began to rewrite and expand the stories she read in chapter books. Her desire to know things is a natural companion to writing. She constantly reads various kinds of books to expand her knowledge and sources of inspiration.

Viner has been in Omaha most of her life and has been interested in a wide variety of things since elementary school, but she soon began to realize she had a passion for books and writing. She started thinking of herself as a writer in college, and has been pursuing a career as a writer ever since.

Viner studied international studies with a minor in creative writing and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She also has two master’s degrees from the University of Nebraska–Omaha, an MFA from the writer’s workshop and an MA in rhetoric and composition.

You can find Viner’s novel “Jane of Battery Park” anywhere you would typically buy books or eBooks.

The Fall Reading Series will continue Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. over Zoom.