Joan Chase

The Ohio Connection

  • As a young girl, Joan Chase moved from town to town in Ohio, wherever her father could find work. Her family made stops in Cincinnati, Columbus, Tiffin, and Danville.
  • The family had many relatives on farms throughout the state, and they visited them frequently. Joan says that her relatives seemed “mysterious and interesting,” and that, perhaps due to the impressions her parents gave, she thought they were wonderful and important people.
  • Her first and highly praised novel, During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, takes place on a farm in northern Ohio, where four granddaughters of Gram, the “queen,” tell stories as a collective “we” about rural family life in the 1950s.

“When I began to write what became During the Reign of the Queen of Persia, I didn’t decide on Ohio as the setting. Ohio was just there, my imaginative heartland. It was the land of my childhood and, from my perspective, the most lovely and thrilling place in the world.

“This exhilaration was in part the legacy of my parents. Displaced natives of Ohio, they yearned to find a way to go back home. My father had been teaching at a college in the East, and he took some years to search for a new livelihood. In that pursuit we moved from pillar to post, living in such places as Columbus, Cincinnati, and Madisonburg. All that moving around didn’t do much for my education, but it had its own charm—living the life of a vagabond. My passion for reading grew out of that time, since we never stayed long enough in one place to make real friends.

“That scarcely mattered to me, because we had so many relatives and visited them often, on farms all over the state. Through my parents’ eyes, I honored those hard working people and their stern values. Mysterious and intriguing to me, they took on mythic stature. My fascination with those obscure lives has never left me and I guess that’s the kind of preoccupation that, over time, can lead someone to take up something as daunting and precarious as writing fiction.” —Joan Chase

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