Today I have the pleasure if introducing to you an author who is new to me. Jane Heller has several projects to her name, both fiction and non fiction.
Tell us about your backlist now being released digitally.
My last two novels, An Ex to Grind and Some Nerve, were published in ebook editions shortly following their hardcover and paperback releases. But my eleven earlier comedies had never been ebooks until just recently, so I’m super excited that they’re now available for download – complete with new covers and, in the case of my first novel (Cha Cha Cha), a new title (Clean Sweep). I love the fact that they’ve been attracting a whole new readership for my books, but what’s also interesting is that people who’ve been my fans for years are going back and re-reading the stories as ebooks because they’re so affordable now.
Where do you get your storylines from?
I eavesdrop. Seriously! My novel Female Intelligence, which is about how men and women have so much trouble communicating, was triggered by a conversation I overheard while coming out of a movie theater. The husband and wife were trying to talk about the movie and it was hilarious how they couldn’t connect. My novel Sis Boom Bah, which is about two sisters who can’t get along, was inspired by all the sisters I met during a book tour. I remember sitting at bookstores signing books and I’d hear women discussing their estrangements from their sisters. I also get ideas from funny situations people tell me about.Name Dropping, for example, is about two women with the same name who live in the same New York City apartment building and discover their identities have been mixed up. When I met my agent, Ellen Levine, for the first time, I said, “Isn’t there another Ellen Levine who’s the editor of Good Housekeepingmagazine?” She laughed and said, “Yes, and she and I get each other’s mail and phone calls all the time.” Best Enemies came about after my editor at the time told me how she’d had a best friend in high school who was beautiful and popular and how she always felt like this girl’s handmaiden or second fiddle. AndThe Secret Ingredient, about a wife who gives her husband an herbal potion to make him act more like the cool guy he was when they were first dating, was born after a friend and I had a phone conversation about our husbands’ annoying habits. Ideas come from everywhere. You just have to be open to them.
Describe your typical writing day.
I get up in the morning and go to work in my office, which is a quiet room in my house and looks out on the hills of Santa Barbara. I take a short break for lunch and work until late afternoon when I try to get some exercise, either a walk by the beach or yoga. If I’m deeply into a book and nearing the finish line, I’ll work at night too, because it’s hard to make the wheels stop turning in my head. I don’t pay attention to how many pages I write per day. I just try to move the story forward. My biggest challenge is to stop going back over the beginning of a book and let it go. It’s so tempting to keep rewriting it and rewriting.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
It’ll sound like a cliche, but my advice is to write. Don’t just talk about how you’re going to write. Don’t just think about how you’re going to write. Don’t just sit there and wait for the Muse to strike. Pull up a chair, place your fingers on the keyboard and write. Start with a sentence, then a paragraph, then a page. Small bites, not a whole meal. And don’t project too far into the future about how you’ll get an agent or find a publisher or how people will react to your work. Just keep your head down and write. If there’s a local writer’s group or workshop, sign up. It’s very helpful to get feedback from other writers as well as to learn how to critique their work.
Which author had the greatest influence on you as a child?
Strangely, my biggest influence as a child wasn’t an author but rather a performer: Lucille Ball. As a kid, I’d watch “I Love Lucy” – even the reruns – and think,This is what I want to do: make people laugh. I knew I wanted to tell comic stories even before I knew I wanted to write. As an adult, it was Susan Isaacs who had the greatest influence on me with her first novel, Compromising Positions. It was a revelation that someone could write a funny story about a contemporary woman who solves a murder and finds love. The combination of the romance and the suspense and the humor was magical for me. Nora Ephron was a huge influence too, speaking of funny women.
Which of your novels is your favorite and why?
The Secret Ingredient is one of my favorites because it came so easily to me. I’ve always wondered why the beginnings of romantic relationships are such an adrenaline rush and then a few years into marriage we start to take each other for granted a bit and the relationships become stale. I loved the idea of a wife who’s dying to reignite the passion she and her husband felt when they were first dating, who takes drastic measures to turn her hubby back into that stud, and who realizes that marriage isn’t about perfection or unrealistic expectations. My favorite hero of all the men in my novels is Terry Hollenbeck in Crystal Clear. He was a guy who was handsome and funny and charming but immature. He couldn’t handle the responsibility of a relationship. He couldn’t hang onto a job. He had no direction. Ten years after the heroine divorces him they’re reunited by sheer chance when she goes to Sedona, Arizona on vacation. Terry has made a life for himself there, raising his daughter as a single parent and running a business. He becomes the total package and I fell madly in love with him.
Tell us about your new nonfiction project.
It’s called You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You: A Caregiver’s Survival Guide to Keeping You in Good Health and Good Spirits. It’s being published next week (November 1st). It’s a combination of my personal, candid and often humorous experiences being married to a man with a chronic illness, interviews with other caregivers (some caring for a spouse or child with an illness, others caring for an elderly parent or grandparent), and advice from experts regarding how caregivers can take better care of themselves – experts including therapists, fitness instructors, meditation teachers, even a bestselling cookbook author with quick and delicious recipes. I wanted to write a guide book that was the opposite of depressing – a cheerful companion for the 65 million caregivers in the U.S. alone. Recently, on Facebook, someone posted: “When are you going to write another funny book?” I wrote back: “Believe it or not, the new nonfiction book will make you laugh.”
Thank you Jane! Looking over these titles, I’m definitely going to be checking them out. Thank you so much for stopping by!
You can find Jane Heller on the web at:
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