Jae Vail

Jae Vail

Jae Vail is an emerging writer and trade unionist based in London. They completed their Ph.D. in music at the University of Manchester in 2021, before working as a researcher at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Jae is now the Head of Communications at the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB). Their debut stage play Empress of Dogs is in development, with a view to a London premiere in the coming months.

Jae began writing and illustrating their own stories as a young child – most of their early stories involved inanimate objects that could talk, or lots of rats. As an adult, they have been writing for a number of years. ‘Quicksand’ is Jae’s first story submitted for publication.


Q: If you could travel back in time, which of the great writers would you like to meet and why?

A: If I could travel back in time, I would visit Kobo Abe. We would both get inside separate cardboard boxes, just like the characters in The Box Man, and we would talk only about baseball.


Q: What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you as a child?

A: One book sticks out from my childhood. It was about an old woman who finds a severed hairy toe in a field and, for some reason, decides to take it home with her and keep it in a jar by her pillow. The toe’s original proprietor comes at night to reclaim its missing appendage, bellowing “where’s my hairy toe?!” up the stairs.

Though the original text is surely quite whimsical in nature, I found it horrific as a child and I used to hide behind the sofa with my brother when my dad did the voices. I’d love to see it on the screen, but I doubt any adaptation would quite capture the images I had conjured in my mind as a kid.


Q: Is there a book that you keep going back to, and if so, how many times have you read it?

A: I keep reading The Vegetarian by Han Kang. I’ve read it three times now, but I must have read the short story that it is based on ‘The Fruit of My Woman’ five times at least. It’s the story that made me want to write again.


Q: What is the least interesting part of writing for you?

A: Checking for typos. Double-spacing.