Awhile back, a friend of mine who goes by the name BadBarb requested that I do an interview with a favorite author of hers, Jane Porter. Of course, I couldn't say no. I mean, who wants to end up in one of the scary closets she keeps? I'll leave that to the experts...the authors :)
So Jane, how long have you been writing, and when did you know this was your calling?
I've been writing since I was a little girl, and seriously attempted to get published from 1988-2000, which is a long time. In January 2000 I sold my first book to Harlequin Presents and have been writing full-time ever since.
What is a typical writing day for you? Are you up at the crack of dawn and write til the sun goes down? Please share your work day with us.
Because I have kids at home, and the youngest is just starting 2nd grade, I pretty much just write when the kids are at school, and then each day has a different agenda. I also know I spend more of my days doing business writing now than I used to. Whenever I have a new book out there is so much to do with book tours, press releases, media kits, event planning, reader fan mail. The actual writing seems to be an afterthought. However, now that I'm on deadline for my next book, the writing is pretty much on my mind all the time and I'm writing more and more every day. Soon I will be writing from 7 am til midnight, and I'll do that to get the book finished, but I don't want to think about it yet because its pretty draining and a lot of work.
You've mentioned that it took years for you to first get published. Why do you think you kept writing? How did it change you?
I don't believe in failing, and writing had been my dream since I was a little girl so I couldn't give up. There were definitely hard, grinding, discouraging years but I knew my writing was slowly improving, and I was determined to stick with it until I sold. So I did. And now here I am, with twenty-three Harlequin Presents behind me, and I'm completing my third book for Hatchette Books USA (formerly Warner Books).
What was your first published story, and what are all the lines you've written for? Do you have a favorite? (I love Harlequin Presents!)
My first book was The Italian Groom and it was met by lots of conflict! Some readers/reviewers loved it, other readers/reviewers hated it and that fiery initiation into the publishing world only made me stronger. I determined then that I would always write what I wanted to write, knowing that readers want an intense, passionate story with a happy ending. My personal favorite is probably Lazaro's Revenge, and that's because he was such a bad boy! (Love those bad boys!)
So, you know BadBarb. Tell us how you met and a little bit about your relationship with this person :)
Barb is a very strong advocate of romance, and a very positive one. (Just beware any closets. Actually now I think islands are to be feared as well). I met BadBarb through the online community and then in person at one of the RWA conferences (Denver, I think) and I immediately loved her passion for books, her love of romance, and her support for her favorite writers (particularly the writers she keeps in closets!). Barb is extremely giving and genuinely cares about the authors, and the books, and her friendship has definitely made this business feel less like business and more like a family. I love it! And I love every chance I get to hang out with Barb at a conference, too.
Jane and the infamous BadBarb
Romance readers are a very vocal, passionate group. What have you learned from your readers and how do you think it affects what you write? Do you enjoy going to booksignings and meeting readers?
I?ve learned from my readers what's important in a story, and I've come to respect my readers so much, that when I sit down to write a book, I know I owe them a great book, each time, every time. My readers are amazing women with complex, challenging lives and I want to give them books that sweep them away, wrap them in love, passion, excitement, adventure, and most of all hope. And yes, I love doing events if it means I get to meet readers. It's the only reason I do them. My readers rule.
Do you travel a lot when you research your books? If so, what are some of the most exciting or interesting locations you've been to? Where would you like to visit, for work or pleasure?
I use to travel more for research then I do now. I'm trying very hard to be home more for my kids sake. Since my divorce their lives have been changed so much that I really feel a need to be with them as much as I can, to help them feel safe, secure, and loved. Because I'm not using as much childcare, either, its slowed my writing down, but I'm happier now, and for now, while the kids are still young, they must come first. But with regards to travel, you've nailed my favorite activity. I love, love, love to travel and just returned from a couple weeks in Australia. It was wonderful going to Australia, and as I took the kids with me, it was a perfect trip, a great combination of work and pleasure. I've gone to some incredible destinations (London, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Cape Town, Nice) and each one is special for a different reason, but there are a couple places I haven't been that I'm eager to visit: Morocco, Dubai, Greece, and Egypt.
Tell us about your latest release, "Flirting With Forty". I love that title, btw. What does it mean to be forty or older and looking for romance these days?
Flirting with Forty is the story of a newly single mom in Seattle who is still coming to grips with her life, at forty. She meets a younger guy, a sexy surfer, on a birthday trip to Hawaii and while there are definite sparks between them, her friends back home don't approve. Her friends mean well, but they don't want Jackie taking anymore big risks.
I love that theme, too, because in my heart of hearts, I think we have to always continue taking risks. I don't think we should ever play it too safe. If we're moms, then yes, we protect the kids,but mentally, emotionally we should still have goals, dreams, things we want for ourselves.
Regarding the number forty, I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying being forty. I really like myself in my 40's and I hope other women do, too. Age is just a number anyway, and I've decided to love everything about being alive and just keep going for it. And if I could give any advice to other women, it'd be to embrace adventure, keep your outlook young, take care of yourself, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Live. Dream big. Don't stop having fun. There's no reason love or romance should be harder in your 40's. There are plenty of men out there, ranging from their 20's to their 60's. Women shouldn't focus on age, or forever partners, but rather, men who are good company. If you meet someone and you really enjoy his company, then slow down, breathe deep, relax, and just live in the moment as right now is the only moment we really have.
Which authors do you read for pleasure? Do you find that their styles are similar or different than yours?
I love to read everything, and my favorites include lots of chick lit, historical romance, paranormal, sexy contemps, anything and everything.
Any chance of seeing you write paranormals or historicals? What are some of your future goals?
I don't see myself writing paranormals, but I used to write historicals, very dark medievals, so we'll have to see how the market goes, and my time and contracts go. I've got quite a few books to write for my current publishers! (Music to a reader's ears!)
What would you like to teach your sons about love and relationships? Do you think they will ever read your books when they are older?
I'd tell my boys to honor their feelings, to love well and to cherish their women. Women need to be deeply loved. It's as simple as that.
Do you find it difficult to be taken seriously when you tell people what you do? How do you react to people who judge romances as fluff or porn? (Personally I think romances offer a positive, empowering message about relationships and how women should respect themselves and not put up with anything less than they deserve).
I have no problem being taken seriously, maybe because I'm so passionate about what I do, and so passionate about the quality of books we write for our readers! I love what I do, and am consumed by what I do, and there's no room in my head for worry or doubt or insecurity about writing romance and women's fiction. Women deserve great books; women deserve books where women are the heroes and their values are respected; women need to be respected by society and others. That's why I write, those beliefs shape who I am and the words I put on paper, and this might sound brutal, but I could care less about the critics. The critics are negative and small-minded and women don't need it. Women don't have to answer to anyone. We women just got to go for it.
What do you do to relax and have fun? What type of music/movies/tv shows do you enjoy?
I read, I try to see my friends, and I love to go to the movies. I don't watch a lot of tv although last year I did enjoy trying to catch episodes of Grey's Anatomy.
If you could meet anyone in the world, writer or not, who would that person be, and why?
Right now, because of the book I'm writing, I'd love to meet Angelina Jolie and interview her for hours. I want to know why she's not afraid to break rank, and do what she wants. I'm curious as to why she doesn't seem to care about public opinion or criticism. I'd like to know what her experiences have been as a single mom and if it's easier now with Brad in the picture, or if there's more conflict trying to share parental duties with what was once an outsider.
What's next on your plate? Any details you can share about upcoming releases?
I'm writing my next book for Hachette Books/5 Spot now. It'll be a September 2007 release, a novel about the "Mommy Wars" and after I wrap this one up, I've a Harlequin to write and then another book for 5 Spot, as my next two trade paperback books are linked, kind of like Emily Giffin's "Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue". I'm really enjoying writing right now and very much in the groove so it's a good place to be. I always have details about my current and upcoming releases on my website, www.janeporter.com so it's a good place for readers to visit to see what I'm doing and where I'm going to be next.
Wow, fabulous answers! Thank you Jane, for spending some time with us here - I know how busy you are with your family and your writing. I wish I would have gotten the opportunity to meet you at RWA....maybe next year. I really look forward to keeping up with your stories - all the best to you :)
Stay tuned for a contest to win a copy of "Flirting with Forty"!