Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Author Jane Green talks "Falling" and writing tips

Author Jane Green may be familiar to many thanks to a stack of books bearing her name and millions of copies sold, but she was new to me when I heard she was doing the rounds promoting her new book, Falling. I always enjoy events like this, even when I’m not familiar with the author. It’s inspiring to hear about their writing process, how they got a first book deal, and other little tips they know every aspiring author in the audience (aka 99 percent of the crowd) longs for.

These talks rise to a new level if you’ve read the author, however, so I made use of my library card to snag Second Chance. I saw it listed somewhere as one of her most popular titles, and it was in at the library – my selection process was no more challenging than that. It dates back to 2007, but her newest book, Falling (released July 19), wasn’t on shelves yet when I started my advance reading to prepare for the main event.

Unfortunately, I didn’t finish Second Chance before the talk, but I’d read enough to know I definitely wanted to see it through to the end. Now, after attending the event and later finishing the book, I’ve happily joined her fanbase. Nothing so lovely as finding a new author you enjoy and learning she’s got a shelf full of books for you to catch up on!

I very much look forward to reading Falling, which found its inspiration in the author’s own love story that had it's own happy ending (reader, she married the hero). The details Green shared of the story behind the story sounded very romantic, very charming, and very much a framework for an intriguing novel. When her first marriage ended, Green packed up her young children and decided to rent a beach house. Romance bloomed with the handsome landlord, who as chance would have it she had actually met before. I can’t wait to see how she wove threads of her own life into the novel’s pages.

One thing I learned from her talk was that Green likes to go freestyle when developing her plot. After writing several novels, she found a new publisher (or it was an agent? Editor? Damn, I should’ve taken better notes!) who insisted on carefully plotted and outlined novels that followed a basic formula. That's not her style. Green enjoys doing things her way, and eventually parted paths with that publisher.

Second Chance was among the books she’d penned before the stint with the strict publisher/agent/whatever, and I could see what she meant about having a looser style of developing a plot. And it worked. Characters didn’t always do what you were sure they would do had it been developed following a typical formula. What that amounted to was an engaging story that felt a bit more realistic than some, and was a bit more surprising at times.

Another interesting tidbit Green revealed at her library talk was that she never really struggled to become an author, never dealt with hopeless stretches of rejection that she powered through to become successful. Nope, it came easy. When she was a journalist in her native UK, a friend published a book. Feeling a bit indignant (Green was the journalist, she’s the one who should be publishing a book!), she quit her job and gave herself three months to write a book and wrangle a deal. Seriously, only three months?! Apparently she was right on the money, because two days before her self-imposed time limit ended, a bidding war broke out for her first book, Straight Talking. Pretty impressive. And kind of annoying to other writers envious of the quick success, but I’ll let that one slide.

Some of the advice Green gave to aspiring authors (who, again, I’m sure she knew there were many of in her audience) was to avoid writing seminars and classes. Writing is a muscle, it needs to be exercised,” she advised. As in, don’t talk about it or mull it over, just get down to it and write. Another gem of wisdom on writer’s block: “The only way to unlock the creativity is to write through it.” Again, just do it, keep going, the way to be a writer is to write.

Green served up many other interesting stories, from those explaining the inspiration for various of her novels to amusing anecdotes about her husband’s family. If you ever get the chance to attend an author event with her, I highly recommend it. There aren’t any on her schedule currently, but you can check her website to see if any pop up (or to read her frequently updated blog).

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