Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Jane Porter Interview - Flirting with Fifty


Photo Credit: © Courtney Lindberg

Jane Porter, the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 70 romances, holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award six times, winning in 2014 for Take Me, Cowboy. In 2008, Jane’s popular novel, Flirting With Forty, was made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear, and in 2021 two of her novels were turned into holiday movies for the new GAC Family channel. Jane lives in sunny California with her surfer husband, three sons, and three dogs.

        
  

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
My first novel was written in fourth grade (all 110 single-spaced, handwritten pages) and was inspired by Little Women. But I'd written a book before that, a picture book in second grade inspired by the Baum's Oz series. I've been writing since kindergarten, with my first story being the Christmas Elf, so it's not that surprising I am still writing Christmas stories, and series featuring close-knit families. I have been drawn to family stories as a reader since I was a little girl, and I continue to respond to similar stories as an adult. My first actual romance novel was written my senior year of high school, as I'd begun dating a baseball player in the minor leagues, and I was fascinated by a world I'd known nothing about. I'd hoped to see Struck Out in Love to Harlequin, but despite many rewrites, it never sold, nor did the next 13 books. Fortunately, I kept trying!

Greatest thing you learned in school.
Both of my parents were educators so I learned more at home from having teacher parents than in school. True confession—I absolutely detested school. I found it hard to learn in such a rigid environment and quite often my curiosity was squashed, or my favorite subjects (English and history) were taught too quickly. In 1st grade, I was already reading at a 6th-grade reading level so I was often bored and unhappy, and then there was the whole PE thing. I hated recess and spent most of that time sitting next to the classroom reading, writing poetry and stories, and wishing I was home in my bedroom. Unfortunately, school taught me that learning isn't fun when in my heart, I knew that learning was amazing... provided there was no one interrupting.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
The most rewarding experience since being published is discovering that our stories--fictional, and even escapist--can change lives. After I wrote Flirting with Forty I heard from hundreds of women. Many of them wrote saying they identified with Jackie, and others thanked me for understanding how they felt being forty or going through a divorce. Some said it helped them fall in love with reading again, and others said they ended up making different decisions after reading it. One woman left an abusive relationship. Another woman returned to college and finished her degree. Another one said she realized she deserved so much more and was going to stop putting herself last. Knowing that stories can empower women, and help them heal or find joy, changed me as a person. I stopped worrying about what the critics say and focused on writing what I wanted to say.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Writers should definitely protect their voice, but the voice isn't a super complicated thing. Voice is something you're born with. It's how you speak, how you communicate with the world, how you share your personal themes and your truth. But you can certainly hone your craft, and I'm a big believer in taking as many writing workshops as you can, reading writing books, taking writing courses, working with other writers, and having critique partners. Writing is a muscle, and the more you use it the stronger you become. Conversely the more you write, the better you read, and the more you read, the better writer you are, so I think we should never stop growing, or wanting to tell a stronger story.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I am just now writing the third book in my Modern Love series for Berkeley, featuring Margot and Max. The story--tentatively titled Flirting with Fire-- is set in Cambria, California, just south of Hearst Castle. I've loved writing this series and will be sorry when it's done. I also have a Christmas story to wrap up as well, Once Upon a Christmas, set in Bakewell, UK, and coming out this Christmas. It's important I get it done as it’s already been optioned for a Christmas movie.

In your newest book; FLIRTING WITH FIFTY, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Flirting with Fifty was an interesting challenge for me because I wrote about a woman who didn't want to fall in love, and she didn't want to have a man in her life. She was quite happy being single and wasn't interested in dating or marriage because it would require compromise, and she'd done enough of that in her life. So I created this very smart, successful, loving 50-year-old woman who had a great job, good friends, wonderful adult daughters, and she was happy. Or so she said. But then she's assigned to co-teach a course with a brilliant Australian scientist she'd had a thing for when she was just twenty-one, and despite her best intentions, sparks fly once again. But falling in love at 50 is a different thing than falling in love at 20. We are wiser, but also a bit more bruised, and a lot more skeptical. Getting Paige and Jack together wasn't the simplest, but I tried to be realistic since there was no way Paige was just going to fall into bed with him… Jack had to woo her mind and win her trust. Flirting with Fifty is a slow-burn romance that I think is realistic for us as we get older.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I'd like readers to recognize that we are every bit as beautiful, important, and valuable in our late forties, fifties, and sixties as we are in our twenties and thirties. We as women make different decisions as we mature, and hopefully better decisions than when we were younger. I would hope that readers would also reflect on what they would actually do if they were in Paige's shoes, especially if you'd gone through a hard, painful marriage. I know some readers might find her indecisiveness frustrating, but I've been through a very hard marriage, and it can leave scars, and it can take one a while to feel safe enough to open up and feel, and see a future with someone. Maybe that's what I love the most about the hero Dr. Jack King. He's a really great human being, and he never puts a woman in a box, nor does he ask her to compromise, and that's my idea of a hero now. A man that lets me be me---and encourages me to be the best, happiest me possible.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Paige and Jack?
The most surprising thing I learned in creating Paige and Jack was that not all of Paige's daughters were excited about her dating again, and possibly falling in love. They'd had their mom's undivided attention for years and it was hard for them to accept that she might need more than them. Let's face it---our kids don't live at home forever. Women need lives, but so often we feel guilty for wanting anything for ourselves. One of Paige's daughters works that guilt pretty well.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing FLIRTING WITH FIFTY?
I loved writing brainy characters—two math and science geeks—and how in many ways they shared the same interest in teaching and education, but then, how differently they each approached life. Jack embraces it all and seeks out change. Paige, having been hurt in the past, seeks safety and security, and had closed herself off from relationships, because she wasn't open to change. Her heart wasn't open. But put these two professors together and there were immediate sparks and tension. Something had to give... much like the topic of Jack's course that he teaches at Orange University.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
If I could introduce any two characters, I would introduce Kai from Flirting with Forty, to Paige, and have him teach Paige to surf, so she could paddle out with Jack and they could do fun, adventurous things together!

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Do something that is totally out of your norm. Try something that isn't you, and possibly terrifies you or something you strongly resist. For me, that was surfing. I had no desire to ever surf, or learn to surf, but I tried it at forty and it changed my life. I realize I wasn't stuck, and I was braver and younger than I knew, and it was never too late to grow and try new things.

TEN FAVORITE BOOKS READ THIS YEAR
  • Small Town, Big Magic by Hazel Beck (I read an arc, the book comes out in Sept... fabulous!!!)
  • The Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews
  • All Night Long with a Cowboy by Caitlin Crews
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Bold Fortune by MM Crane
  • A Hard Yes by Sinclair Jayne Sawhney
  • Munro by Kresley Cole
  • The Scoundrel's Daughter by Anne Gracie
  • A Fall from Grace by Jenne Goutet
  • Miss Moriarty, I Presume? by Sherry Thomas
Writing Behind the Scenes
Something not everyone knows about me is that I'm an author and a publisher. Nine years ago I founded Tule Publishing and since then, Tule has published 800 books, and has had 10 movies made from our books, with another dozen movies in production now.

Considering I'm very busy with my family and my own writing, why did I start a publishing company?

It started very organically. I wanted to do something creative and commercially viable with my close friends, CJ Carmichael, Megan Crane, and Lilian Darcy. We decided to write some loosely linked stories set in Montana together. We did extensive world-building, creating our own town and individual story series ideas, which became Montana Born’s 75th Copper Mountain Rodeo., from Tule’s first ‘imprint’.

At this point, Tule Publishing was little more than an LLC and the first imprint little more than a marketing tool so readers could find our Marietta (Montana) stories easily. Marketing makes sense to me. Before I sold my first book, I was in sales and marketing for six years and then a teacher for six years, and I know how important it is for your customer to be able to find you.

We decided to add some more stories to Marietta, which meant adding some additional authors, and then we kept adding authors and stories and we grew from there. Tule has a full-time staff of seven, including the CFO, Managing Editor, Marketing Manager, Bookkeeping, Art Director, and our editorial team. Tule now publishes romance, commercial women's fiction, and mystery. What makes Tule work is that we really wanted to be supportive of smart, successful, creative women – we wanted an environment that respected and empowered authors – without ever marginalizing them. That meant we couldn’t take every book, and it meant that we made mistakes as we learned on the job. Admittedly, not every decision, or every story, has had the sales and success we’ve wanted, but Tule’s strength is being small, flexible, and focused on the goal of supporting talented authors and keeping the communication open, honest, and real.

I believe in women, the power and energy we bring to projects, and creativity. I love taking risks and trying things, and there's nothing more exciting than being a storyteller and a book girl.


A sexy and sparkling later-in-life contemporary romance about a woman who leaps out of her comfort zone and takes a chance on love by New York Times bestselling author Jane Porter.

Paige Newsom is finally at a place in her life where she's comfortable. She loves her job as a college professor in Southern California, lives close enough to her mother to visit her regularly, and has three daughters who are flourishing in their own careers. Paige has no plans to upend her life again after her divorce eight years ago, but she's about to embark on a new adventure: co-teaching a course that includes a three-week international field study.

Paige can think of a dozen reasons why she shouldn't go, one being a dazzling Australian biologist who will be teaching alongside her. Professor Jack King is charismatic, a world traveler, and more like Indiana Jones than Indiana Jones, all of which unsettles Paige, who prides herself on being immune to any man's charms. As the two co-professors lead the rigorous program together, first on campus, then in beautiful Tanzania, Paige's biggest challenge will be working closely with Jack while resisting the undeniable chemistry she feels when she's with him.

You can purchase Flirting with Fifty at the following Retailers:
        

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JANE PORTER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Flirting with Fifty by Jane Porter.

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5 comments:

  1. Excellent article. I learned so much about my favorite author.

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  2. most summers as a teen I was babysitting, then I worked at a grocery store for seven years from high school through college.

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  3. Worked for a slightly nutty but funny older career woman who owned a mortgage company who would refer to all good looking men as "beefcake".

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  4. I volunteered to be a camp counselor for my sister's friend's church camp. I got to use my first aid skills and Girl Scout know-how for situations that came up. We found out there's no such thing as an organized pillow fight. The feathers went flying and one girl had an asthma attack, so we took her in the shower so she could breathe easier. After that we had a game to see how fast one could stuff a pillow into a pillowcase. It's tougher than you think and we laughed a lot.

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