This month I will be checking in with some very busy authors to see how they are doing during this Covid-19 health crisis. Today the spotlight is on Jane Green.
She is published in over 25 languages, and has over ten million books in print worldwide.
She has been part of the ABC News team, has had her own radio show on BBC Radio London, and has made regular appearances on TV and radio.
She contributes to a number of newspapers and magazines, and has a weekly column in The Lady magazine, England’s longest running weekly magazine.
A graduate of the International Culinary Institute in New York, Green is an avid cook, amateur decorator, and passionate gardener. She is also a regular storyteller for The Moth.
A resident of Westport, Connecticut, she lives there with her husband, a small menagerie of animals, and (too) many children.
Q & A with Jane
Q: Who are you quarantined with and how is it going?
A: I am quarantined with my husband, and six children. One of them has temporarily left for NYC, but will be back. On the one hand, I’m thrilled to be home, my happiest place, but this house was not designed for eight people, and it is absolute chaos. Plus, all the children cook, which sounds heavenly, but actually creates more mess than I though was humanly possible. One child is now sleeping my office, so I am sequestered in our bedroom, which is the only clean, tidy room in the house. I have to steel myself every time I go in the kitchen, and am spending much of the time hiding upstairs.
Q: Have you learned a new skill, accomplished something unexpected, tried a new recipe, cleaned your closets?
A: I have become obsessed with decoupaging oyster shells. I’ve been collecting old washed-up shells from the beach across from my house, decoupaging things on them, painting the edges with gold leaf and varnishing them. I have no idea what I’m going to do with all of them, but they’re beautiful, and I love keeping my hands busy. It almost puts me into a meditative state, doing a craft like this. A few people have bought them just from seeing them on Instagram, so I have to figure out how to sell the rest of them!
Q: How has this social distancing impacted your world when it comes to book marketing, writing?
A: Massively. Up until this week, I haven’t been able to write at all. I have had no focus, haven’t been able to read, haven’t been able to do much of anything. Over the past week or so, I could slowly feel things beginning to change, and I’m thrilled to report that I now have my writing head firmly back on. I think I needed all these weeks to come around to full acceptance of this new reality, and now that I have done that, I’m able to concentrate again.
Q: Do you think this odd time will show up in book settings moving forward?
A: I’m writing my first non-fiction, which is part-memoir, part prescriptive, about breaking out of the isolation of middle age once the kids leave home, about reinventing ourselves in our fifties, about figuring out who you really are when you are no longer defined as someone’s mom. I am having to overlay all of this with quarantine, but it doesn’t change the essential message of the book. I keep hearing about people who are writing The Covid Chronicles, The Quarantine Diaries, etc etc, but I’m not sure what those books look like. I’m more inclined to gravitate towards something that provides escapism, particularly right now. Historically, seismic events such as war have led to waves of feel-good books, so we shall see!
Q: What is the silver lining for all of us and specifically for authors when it comes to the Covid-19 shut down?
A: I have spent months thinking about, and writing about, isolation, so the enforced isolation has been fascinating, showing us just how much we need human connection, how much we need to value our friendships and the people we love.
Q: What do you have going on right now?
A: The Friends We Keep just came out in paperback, which I only knew was coming last week, so please please let me shamelessly plug it! It’s a cozy, warm, blanket of a book about friendship, about people who lose touch, then find each other again when the kids have grown, and decide to live together on a sort of mini-commune, not realizing there is a big secret that threatens to blow everything up. It’s the perfect read for these scary times! I’m also doing an online author event with the fantabulous Adriana Trigiani on her Facebook page on May 26th.https://www.facebook.com/AdrianaTrigiani/