Today we have a very special guest, Jeanne Blasberg, as she tells us a bit about herself and her DEBUT novel!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’ve kept a journal all my life and have always loved to read. My favorite book as a child was Harriet the Spy. Being an only child who spent a lot of time alone, I got scarily close to emulating Harriet’s spying ways.
My passion is fiction, but my early professional life had me writing business case studies and articles on the retailing industry. My first serious pursuit of creative writing involved memoir and essays based on personal experience, but I always knew I had a book in me.
Once my three children moved out of the house, things got quiet and my mind could slow down. I used that time to write and study the craft. My husband and I also love to travel, and I blog about it on my website. In the last nine months I have been to South Africa, Uganda, Patagonia, the Canadian Rockies, and Iceland.
What aspects of your life led you to writing the kind of stories you write?
I have always been fascinated by family dynamics. What is spoken and often unspoken between siblings (which I can only imagine, having always wanted to be a sister) and how bonds strengthen or deteriorate between generations are things I think about.
I have also witnessed (as well as read and thought about) the way behaviours get passed down from generation to generation, especially painful ones such as addictions and secret keeping.
You have a new book coming out soon. Tell us about it.
EDEN is the story of a family matriarch in her late seventies who, after the death of her husband, decides to introduce her family to the daughter she gave up for adoption fifty years earlier. The setting is their grand summer home, built by her industrial tycoon father, in a fancy summer community on the coast of southern Rhode Island. The chapters describing the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as relatives arrive, and our matriarch prepares to make her announcement, are alternated with chapters revealing the 80-year history of the family. Four generations of women are introduced, each with secrets of their own.
What inspired you to write it?
The idea was born after my husband discovered he had a brother who had been given up for adoption. In getting to know this newly discovered brother and having conversations with him and his wife, I understood something about how the mystery around his birth had been bound to his self-identity. I related to this immediately. The product of a hasty marriage, I was ten years old when I did the math on my fingers to figure out I was a mistake, something a could never quite shake. I never stopped thinking about the different choices our mothers had (or didn’t have) and also the residual effect on the children.
How do you get into the minds of your characters?
I spend time meditating or quieting my mind and then I think about the scene I am writing until I just know how a character would react. Sometimes, I get it wrong and in the editing process I think “no, no, no, that’s not quite right.” My characters are evolving and so getting it right sometimes requires writing an entire first draft and then going back to refine them. I understand my characters so much better when I know the ending.
I often think about my characters when I’m out in the world. I might notice a woman’s clothes and think that is something Becca would wear. Or overhear a conversation and think that is something Camilla would say.
In your opinion, what are some of the biggest obstacles facing female writers today?
Maybe the same obstacles face men as well as women, I’m not sure. I am a debut author and don’t feel I have a very knowledgeable opinion on this topic. But the one thing I have noticed in the process of launching EDEN is that there are a lot of books being released each season and there are a lot in the genre I am writing…. By Women For Women. Is the obstacle one of continually feeling relevant and original? I have found the communities of women authors that I have become a part of to be extremely helpful and supportive. So whatever issues we have as a gender, there is a big movement around taking them on!
Any additional comments or advice you’d like to add for our readers?
Here are 5 good writing tips for a satisfying writing life:
1) Consistent routine, for 8 out of 10 people morning energy is best – take advantage of that time and don’t give it away
2) Meditate – unclutter the mind
3) Find a community of writers and hold each other accountable
4) Be generous – with yourself and others
5) good writing has a lot to do with intuition – trust it
Synopsis of the book: “Becca Meister Fitzpatrick―wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community―is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel―with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship―will react.”
Jeanne can be found at the following sites: