Born in Visalia, California, I'm a small town girl at heart. I love central California's golden foothills, oak trees, and the miles of farmland. In my mind, there's nothing sweeter in the world than the heady fragrance of orange blossoms on a sultry summer night.
As a little girl I spent hours on my bed, staring out the window, dreaming of far off places, fearless knights, and happy-ever-after endings. In my imagination I was never the geeky bookworm with the thick coke-bottle glasses, but a princess, a magical fairy, a Joan-of-Arc crusader.
My parents fed my imagination by taking our family to Europe for a year when I was thirteen. The year away changed me (I wasn't a geek for once!) and overseas I discovered a huge and wonderful world with different cultures and customs. I loved everything about Europe, but felt especially passionate about Italy and those gorgeous Italian men (no wonder my very first Harlequin Presents was Italian).
I confess, after that incredible year in Europe, the travel bug bit, and bit hard. I spent much of my high school and college years abroad, studying in South Africa, Japan and Ireland. South Africa remains a country of my heart, the people, the land and politics complex and heart-wrenching.
After my years of traveling and studying I had to settle down and earn a living. With my Bachelors degree from UCLA in American Studies, a program that combines American literature and American history, I've worked in sales and marketing, as well as a director of a non-profit foundation. Later I earned my Masters in Writing from the University of San Francisco and taught jr. high and high school English.
I now live in rugged Seattle, Washington with my three young sons. I never mind a rainy day, either, because that's when I sit at my desk and write stories about far-away places, fascinating people, and most importantly of all, love. I like a story with a happy ending. We all do.
Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves. Add to the mix Shey's ex-crush, Dane Kelly, a national bull riding champ and she's got her hands full. It doesn't take long before Shey realizes that in order to reinvent herself, she must let go of an uncertain future and a broken past, to find happiness—and maybe love—in the present.
Jane, I would like to congratulate you on your August release of She’s Gone Country. For many years, I’ve personally been such a fan of your Presents and now your women’s fiction. Jane, thanks for taking time out for this Q&A. Is there a “Behind the Book Story” for She’s Gone Country?
Jane Porter: Hi Marilyn, thanks for having me here. She’s Gone Country is a book I’ve been wanting to write for a very long time. I love Texas and I love the country and every year we spent Easter on our Parkfield ranch, the ranch my late grandfather left to his grandchildren. The ranch was a working cattle ranch before his death and has thousands of acres of rolling hills and wildflowers, corrals and windmills and grain silos. So in a way, this book is an ode to my rugged Texan grandfather as well as to my grandmother who had to live with this tough man!
This is also the first book where I’ve made boys the focus. Shey is a mother of three sons and the younger sister of three brothers. I loved writing about our contemporary male culture and the pressure on boys and men today.
Do you plot your stories or let your characters lead you?
Jane Porter: My characters always come first, and they very much lead me in terms of emotion, but I do have a plot that’s born with each character.
What are you currently working on?
Jane Porter: I’ve just wrapped up my 26th book for Harlequin Presents, an intense very sensual story set in Sicily, and am plotting my next single title while preparing for my SHE’S GONE COUNTRY book tour.
Of all of your characters, do you have a favorite you identify with and why?
Jane Porter: I love Marta in Odd Mom Out because she’s so independent and so determined to be herself. I admire women who don’t feel like they have to fit in, or play a game. I wish I had Marta’s confidence to thumb my nose at society more. Instead, I worry about what people think and how to keep everyone happy. Perhaps in my next life I’ll be a Marta instead!
What is the best thing about your job as an author? What is the hardest thing?
Jane Porter: A tough question! You know, I don’t think I could pick just one thing that’s best about being an author. There are so many reasons this is the perfect job for me. Just being able to write is one. I love creating new stories, exploring new characters, facing their challenges, and then finishing a book. I’m fascinated by the publication process and enjoy watching my manuscript go through the various production stages, and then seeing it hit shelves. I also love, love, love hearing from my readers, too. It’s always a thrill when a book touches someone’s deeply, or makes them laugh out loud. It really is an incredible job!
The hardest thing about the job is not having enough time with my boys when I’m on deadline, and then the worst is leaving the kids when I have booktours or other business travel. My youngest son is still a baby to me—15 months old—and leaving him behind for a week at a time just about breaks my heart.
What is something you definitely want readers to know about you?
Jane Porter: That I care passionately about writing great books. I want every book to be as strong and wonderful and magical as possible. I’m such a reader myself that I know what a great book should deliver and I try so hard to not just meet, but surpass, my readers expectations every time.
When the time comes for you to retire from writing, what would you like your readers to remember the most about you and your writing?
Jane Porter: Well, I hope that time doesn’t come for many years yet because I’ve got so many more stories inside of me, but I suppose I’d want to be remembered for writing stories that touched my readers’ hearts. My stories are meant to entertain, uplift, and ultimately, empower women. When my reader puts one of my books down I want her to feel better than when she started it.
What are you currently reading?
Jane Porter: I haven’t had a lot of time to read in the last few weeks due to traveling and looming deadline issues but I started The Help and it’s amazing, and books I have packed to take on the road include Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells, Sally Koslow’s With Friends Like These, A Kiss At Midnight by Eloisa James and so many more.
Before I let you go is there anything I forgot to ask that you want the readers and fans to know?
Jane Porter: I’ve got two fantastic contests happening on my website right now including one with a chance to win a cowgirl adventure for two at Rancho Cortez in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. There’s lots of fun stuff happening so I hope you’ll all come visit my site and enter to win some cool prizes! I’m also starting my book tour in a few days and I’ll be visiting California, Nevada, and Texas in the next several weeks so if you’re in one of those states, please come see me!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me!
Jane on here
Thanks to Jane Publisher, You can win (5) copies of She's Gone Country. Enter here
Monday, August 16, 2010