We are thrilled to welcome New York Times best selling author Jane Green to The Debutante Ball today. Jane has an amazing new book called The Beach House, a book fans and reviewers are calling her best work yet.
The Beach House by Jane Green
Known in Nantucket as the crazy woman who lives in the rambling house atop the bluff, Nan doesn’t care what people think. At sixty-five-years old, her husband died twenty years ago, her beauty has faded, and her family has flown. If her neighbors are away, why shouldn’t she skinny dip in their swimming pools and help herself to their flowers? But when she discovers the money she thought would last forever is dwindling and she could lose her beloved house, Nan knows she has to make drastic changes.
So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach. Slowly, people start moving into the house, filling it with noise, with laughter, and with tears. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family expanding. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside-down.
How do you keep your books so fresh and distinct? You have a great voice- but your books all read (at least to us) as unique and separate, unlike some authors you can’t even remember if you’ve read that book before or if it is just like another one of their books you’ve read.
I have no idea, and every time I finish a book I think I’ll never be inspired again. In all truth I think my voice is pretty much always the same and quite distinctively mine, but I’m writing about very different characters and very different subject matter with every book, and of course drawing upon my own life for inspiration.
What is your writing process like? Do you outline first, or just work out the story through your writing?
I always start with a theme, a general story or message, and although I usually have the beginning and a rough idea of the ending, I let the characters dictate the middle, so the ending often changes. I outline each chapter though, before I start to write.
Would you say you spend more time on publicity now, or earlier in your career?
Far more now. I was lucky in the beginning because it was the start of chick lit and there was a tremendous amount of attention for my first book, but then it dropped off for a while. It’s lovely to finally be recognised for what you do.
What’s it like to be you? Describe your normal day.
Up at around 6am, struggle downstairs hoping to get coffee before the kids (four of them) wake up. Descend the stairs hearing the TV is on, and thinking, shit, as usual they’re already up. Tiptoe into kitchen hoping they don’t hear me, to find 8-year-old on Pop Tropica in kitchen, complete with weird beeps and bips emanating from computer. Request, many times, for computer to be turned off, but 8-year-old in computer coma and doesn’t hear. Make breakfast. Make packed lunches for kids which I try to make night before but rarely manage. Down coffee. Walk kids to bus stop with large Doberman, Baron, back home to check email and vital news on Perezhilton.com. Throw computer in back of car, head to local library where I grab medium skim latte and sit down to write.
Finish by lunchtime, grab sushi across the street with girlfriend for lunch. Back home, running errands/shopping on way. Back on computer to update blog/return emails/phone calls/write articles/do interviews. Doberman sneaks into house and terrorises one of the three cats. Mayhem ensues until Doberman banished to my office, which is rapidly becoming his. Kids home off bus. Open fridge many times for inspiration for supper. Get supper on, sit with kids, bathtime. Beloved home around 8. Dinner with beloved, chat over wine and supper in kitchen. Collapse into bed and fall asleep to Law & Order. Glamorous? Best-selling author? Are you SURE???
Your newest book, The Beach House is beautifully-written and has an amazing character, Nan. Nan is so eccentric and charming we feel like we know her. Is she based on a real person or entirely concocted in your imagination?
When Beloved and I were getting to know one another, we would go for long midnight walks on the beach, and every night we’d pass this woman who fascinated me. She must have been in her sixties, very beautiful, riding a bicycle with a cigarette in hand. I thought that snapshot was a wonderful start, and then there were several older women I knew who I suppose inspired me with their wisdom and their acceptance.
In the book, Nantucket itself almost becomes a character. To me, it seems that the setting played a far bigger role than I can ever remember in your past work — did you plan that from the beginning, or did it sort of sneak up on you as you were writing?
Completely snuck up on me! We rented a house there last summer and the book had originally been set in the fictitious town of Highfield, CT, but as soon as we arrived on Nantucket I knew it had to be there.
What is your favorite deadline stress eating vice? (Cheetos, dark chocolate?)
Nothing quite so decadent or glamorous as dark chocolate. I go for the crap stuff, I’m afraid. Those mini Hershey bars that the kids bring home from Pinatas, Reese’s Pieces, Snickers. Most of the time I don’t eat sugar at all, but God help my household when I do…
Thanks so much for taking the time to do the interview. We’re so delighted to have you as our guest today!
I’m thrilled you asked!
Be sure to pick up Jane’s wonderful new book, The Beach House. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its characters, especially Nan, who reminded me of my favorite Aunties. The Beach House is like a summer vacation you never want to end.
For more on Jane Green or The Beach House, check out Jane’s web site www.janegreen.com
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