Thursday, July 19, 2007

Contemporary Fiction Author Jane Green and Second Chance

This is a visit I have been looking forward to all month. Bestselling author, Jane Green joins us today to chat about her latest novel Second Chance, how she juggles a writing career and motherhood, and her upcoming projects.

Welcome to Aspiring Author, Jane. It is wonderful to have you here!

Thank you for having me.

I've been following your virtual book tour and the more I read about you and your work, the more inspired I become as a writer.

How lovely of you to say that – enormously flattering.

Let's start off with the basics. How did you get started along your career path? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

I always thought I'd be an artist of some description, but then realized it was unlikely I'd ever make a living. I fell into journalism by mistake in my early twenties, and then decided to write my first book, Straight Talking, at twenty seven. The only clue perhaps, looking back, was that I always loved to read.

You've had an amazing career so far. You've had nine books published, made The New York Times Best Sellers list, helped launch a new genre of women's fiction (chick lit), and received a fun fearless fiction award from Cosmopolitan. Did you ever anticipate such success?

Not at all. Naïve as it sounds, I always assumed, when I left my job on the Daily Express, that I would get a publishing deal, but I never dreamt I would have the career that I've had. In the twelve years since I've been writing my books I've seen a number of authors drop off the map, and I feel incredibly blessed on a daily basis that I'm able to continue doing what I love.

In addition to your writing career, you're a single mother to four children. How on earth do you juggle it all?

With a huge amount of difficulty. Truthfully, I seem to have a tremendous amount of energy, and somehow manage to do it all. It's also getting easier as the kids are in school for longer and I have more time to get my books written and manage the household stuff.

Let's talk about Second Chance. From what I've read so far, it is the story of best friends from high school who lose touch with one another over the years. After the tragic death of one of the friends (Tom), the rest reunite to celebrate Tom's life and their lives are changed. What can you tell us about these characters? Why will readers care about them?

I hope that as my writing grows and changes, what will always remain a constant is the emotional honesty. I always aim for realism, to write about people that could be you or I, could be our friends. And I write about situations that many of us have experienced, and if we haven't, we probably know someone who has. Ultimately I'm writing about the human condition, and we can all relate.

There were a couple of incidents which inspired this book. Can you tell us what they were?

Firstly I lost a friend in the Tsunami and was utterly blindsided by the grief, and just as I was preparing to write the book, my marriage started unraveling, which took the book into a new direction – a look at mid-life crises and how it's never too late to reclaim happiness.

In an interview with The Book Pedler this month, you referred to the four remaining friends as "brave heroes". What is it about them that will make readers see them this way?

I think each of my protagonists are brave in making large decisions about their lives that inspire change, which is often frightening, even when that fear keeps us in a place that does not serve us well. Saffron is able to finally face her drinking demons, Paul and Anna learn to live without their dream, Olivia finds herself making a decision she never would have dreamed of, and Holly is able to face the fact that she cannot stay married to a man she never loved.

You met with the employees of Google while you were in the process of writing Second Chance and one of your comments really stuck out at me. You mentioned that you were enjoying the writing of this novel and it was going well, which is unusual because you usually hate everything you write. It seems so strange to think of a bestselling author feeling that way about her writing. How do you work through these feelings of self-doubt? Is there any advice you could give your fellow writers on how to deal with self-doubt and anxiety?

My agent swears that each time an author has phoned him and said they've written a masterpiece, his heart sinks and it is invariably the worst thing they've ever written. I think a healthy dose of humility is essential, and part of the creative process – it's what keeps you striving to do better, to grow, to evolve.

Let me end with asking, what's up next for you? What do your fans and fellow writers have to look forward to?

I'm hoping to try my hand at a mystery next. This week was supposed to be my week of plotting, but life, as usual, seems to have got in the way, so fingers crossed for next Monday.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just that if you've read Second Chance and loved it, tell people! Write a review, write a blog, tell your friends, and thank you so much for asking such incisive questions.

Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your work with my readers. I wish you continued success in the future and can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Second Chance.

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