Promises To Keep, released in the U.S. in hardcover last week, is the newest novel from Jane Green, a British author now living in Connecticut, who has been credited as one of the first to help carve the chick-lit genre in the mid 1990s.
But according to at least one recent review, that doesn't exactly describe her current work.. Alicia Rancilio of the Associate Press wrote, "Jane Green's books are often described as a beach read or chick lit, but don't mistake those labels as meaning frivolous or light. Green's writing has both heart and depth. Her latest novel, "Promises to Keep," is the story of Callie Perry, wife, mother, photographer — and breast cancer survivor."
Green took some time recently to answer just a few of my questions.
LR: If I’m counting correctly, this is your 12th novel. In what ways have you found the writing process has gotten easier, and in what ways does it get more difficult?
JG: Life gets busier and busier, so far more discipline is required as the years progress. It is definitely harder to make the time, but at the end of the day it’s my job, and whether I feel like it or not, I have to sit down at my desk and get those words on the page.
LR: Having begun your writing career in feature journalism and public relations, are there any skills you learned which are still beneficial to you now as a novelist?
JG: The discipline of journalism is the greatest gift I was ever given. When you have an editor demanding a thousand words in an hour, you do it. You can’t claim writer’s block, or lack of inspiration. You just write, because it’s your job, and I apply the exact same principle to writing novels.
LR: Do you have any atypical writing advice? Anything you’ve done as a writer, especially in the writing process, that is maybe a little bit unusual but which has worked for you?
JG: No Just keep writing. The only way to unlock the creativity is to write through it. You may think you have writer’s block, and it may feel like squeezing blood from a stone, but the only way to free the creativity is to keep writing until the block disappears.
LR: No matter who they are or what they are doing in the story, all of your female protagonists are so damned likeable. Any tips for developing characters readers will want to follow around for a few hundred pages?
JG: Like them yourself, and identify with them. The key to your writing resonating is to keep them emotionally honest, and I’ve always found it easiest to write about subjects I know, or am passionate about.
LR: On your website you advise aspiring authors, “Just keep writing. Don’t go to conferences and classes and workshops, because that is just procrastination. A little of that is fine, but the people who become professional conference-goers, are actually procrastinating, and just putting off the actual business of writing.” Can you elaborate?
JG: I meet people all the time who call themselves writers, but have not written anything. Instead of writing, they study writing. The only way to be a writer, is to write.
LR: While promoting this book, are you already deep at work on the next? Do you find that talking a lot about the just-published (or soon-to-be-published) book makes it difficult to switch gears and continue on another?
JG: I’m currently taking a break whilst coming up with the storyline for the next…I’m hoping inspiration will strike very soon.
LR: Any upcoming readings or other events on your calendar?
JG: A number of fundraisers for breast cancer, and several book readings around the country. Check the calendar on my website.
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