A conversation with Jane Green New York Times bestselling author of
SUMMER SECRETS is set partly in London and partly in Nantucket. Why did you choose these settings?
I can’t ever get too far from my London roots. It’s hard for me to write about it now, it has changed so much since I moved away fifteen years ago, but I grew up there, and I love that nostalgic jolt I get when I delve into my memories for my characters. And Nantucket is the most magical place on earth – if I could set every book there, I would.
In SUMMER SECRETS, Cat confronts a secret in her family’s past. Was this plotline inspired by any personal experiences?
My husband has a cousin who recently discovered, in his 50s, that the man he thought was his father wasn’t his father. Coincidentally, I have cousins who don’t know they are related to me — the result of an illicit affair one of my uncles had years ago. I am fascinated by the secrets people keep, and the impact those have on our lives.
SUMMER SECRETS is your 17th book. All of your novels have been bestsellers. Once you hit the New York Times bestseller list, is there more pressure on you to continue to write books that hit the list?
The pressure grows and grows…will you make the list, will you be higher than last time, is your career on the upswing or is this the moment it all comes crashing down and everyone realizes you’re actually a load of rubbish. I had tremendous, and instant, success with my early books, and later had a period when things were quieter. It was a humbling and valuable lesson. Now I tend to focus less on how well the book does, and more on creating the best possible book I can create. If I know I’ve done that, then I’m happy.
How and when do you write? Please describe your writing routine, rituals, and traditions.
I write in the mornings, taking myself off to a small writer’s room in town where I sequester myself for three or four hours. I need frequent large cups of coffee and spare batteries for the huge noise-cancelling headphones I wear, listening to either classical or ambient music. I buy a new notebook dedicated to each new book Large, thin enough to slip into my computer case, the very first page always contains notes on the story, before moving on to characters. All my thoughts and notes go into the book, always in longhand, before being typed up on the computer. And it’s usually pink.
Before you became a women’s fiction favorite, you were a journalist. Do you miss the 9-5 routine?
The only thing I miss is going to work every day with my best friends. I worked on the women’s desk of the Daily Express and we were such a tight knit group, going to work was actually my favorite part of the day.
This summer you launched a Kickstarter campaign for an exclusive cookbook GOOD TASTE. Please give us all the delicious details.
On June 11, I announced plans to self-publish my first cookbook! I’m so excited! It will be supported directly by my fans via Kickstarter – the only place to buy the book ($25!) is through Kickstarter, until July 7th. http://kck.st/1B8BvGC. Drawing on stories from my life and the food that runs through these personal stories — from caring and cooking for a friend with breast cancer, to supporting my blended family with six kids and several animals, to my family’s recent move into an antique cottage on the water, the book is a combination of recipes, gorgeous photos and original writing. And because I’m doing this cookbook through Kickstarter, it has my fingerprints on every inch. It feels as personal as it gets. I have loved the creative process and the freedom I have had to give my readers what feels like a piece of my heart. There will be a limited print-run and my fans can learn more and pre-order their copy by visiting http://kck.st/1B8BvGC, or my website.
How and when did you learn to cook? Have you had any professional training?
I learned in my mother’s kitchen, perched on a stool and helping out as she cooked, graduating to studying recipes as a teenager, and finally, a few years ago, doing the Part One of a professional chef’s training at the French Culinary Institute in New York. To go back to being a student again at this age, when I have children, and a whole other life, was an enormous privilege – it was exhilarating and huge fun.
What are some of your favorite dishes to cook, those that you return to again and again?
I’m a big fan of comfort food, so anything that can be slow-cooked in one pot is always going to be a win. I make braised lamb shanks and short ribs quite regularly, and an English Victorian breakfast dish called Kedgeree, which is curried rice, salmon and eggs, that we all adore.
What have you read lately that you’ve loved?
I was lucky enough to read I Take You by Eliza Kennedy as an advance copy, and it had me crying with laughter in a way I hadn’t since Bridget Jones’s Diary. Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is another I was lucky enough to read early, and another I plan to revisit, savoring the stories of hoity toity women on the Upper East Side of New York.
Any other books you are looking forward to reading this summer?
Laura Dave is not only one of my favorite writers, but one of my favorite people. Her latest, Eight Hundred Grapes, is first on my list. Jamie Attenberg’s The Middlesteins was a wonderful, poignant book. So I can’t wait to dive into Saint Mazie. And what can I say? Who won’t be reading Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event this summer?
What can you tell us about the next Jane Green novel? And how long will we have to wait for it?
With any luck I’ll be finished in August of this year. It’s called The Hemlock Sisters (although that could change), and it’s about three estranged sisters who reunite when their mother announces she is ill.