Methods and Techniques for Integrating the Biological Variable "Sex" in Preclinical Research - PM
Redbook Reads: Q&A with Jane Green
Maggie's Connecticut experience is very much part of what I have experienced here — both the good and the bad: The neighborliness, sense of community, and the element of social climbing in some of the more affluent towns. Sylvie's California experience is very much the life I dream of — I have a secret desire to pack everything up and move to Santa Barbara!
How did you come up with the personality and idea for main male character, Mark? On one hand, he's a great husband and father — but also deeply flawed.
I read so much about men who aren't what they seem, and particularly stories written by women who found out their husbands had a slew of secrets they knew nothing about. But in almost all of the cases, these men were described as sociopaths: i.e., they felt no remorse, no guilt, no compunction in lying, stealing, or betraying people they were supposed to have loved.
I was very clear in knowing that I didn't want to write that. I wanted Mark to be human, someone who made a huge error in falling in love with someone else, who didn't know how to get out of the mess he'd created, and ended up digging himself in deeper and deeper.
Sylvie and Mark's last moments together seem open to interpretation. Do you think Sylvie forgives Mark before Maggie is able to?
I think Sylvie is able to forgive partly because, in many ways, she isn't as complicated as Maggie, who has created an elaborate web to hide her own secrets and truths. And I do believe that Mark genuinely loved Sylvie, but felt an obligation to Maggie, and particularly to his children. He wanted to do the right thing, but didn't know how to without hurting the people closest to him. Ultimately, I do believe he was trying to keep everybody happy.
There is one moment when all the women are gathered at the bedside during one character's emotional and physical crisis. How was this a turning point for all the women?
I was in tears myself when I was writing that scene! I hadn't expected the friendship between Grace and Eve to be so emotional, and I certainly hadn't planned this moment in the hospital bed. When you're writing a book, the characters so often take on a momentum of their own, and this was an instance just like that. I hadn't planned this scene, and the gentleness and love definitely redefined the rest of the book.
How did you decide that Eve should struggle with anorexia? And how does her psychological journey with the illness reflect the external factors and family issues she's experiencing as the book progresses?
Having struggled with food issues and eating disorders myself, particularly when I was younger, I've long been interested in using it within my books. As Eve's life spins more and more out of control — initially just during the anticipation of leaving home and starting college, well before she finds anything out about her father — the only thing she can control is her food.
Can you shed some light on Maggie and Sylvie's different mothering styles?
Sylvie and her daughter Eve are very close, but there's a huge part of Eve's life that Sylvie doesn't have access to, and for a long time she's okay with that. As a woman, Sylvie is enormously strong and self-sufficient — one of her mechanisms of dealing with her own narcissistic mother — and Sylvie's vulnerability can't come out until her daughter is truly ill.
I love Maggie's transformation throughout the story. It's far less about who she is as a mother than who she is a person: her comfort in her skin, in who she is, ridding herself of the shame she has carried her entire life, is what enables Maggie to be the kind of loving, giving mother that her children need.
Can you talk about the emotional journey Maggie's three kids go through upon realizing the truth about their family? Do you think Eve and Chris ultimately find healing together?
I hadn't expected Eve and Chris's relationship either, but it made perfect sense when I was writing it, and I do think their chemistry is entirely independent of their family history. It's incredibly common for family members to feel a chemistry, meeting someone blood-related as an adult who they never knew as a child, but of course in this instance, thankfully, there is nothing incestuous about it.
Speaking of chemistry, Sylvie loses two loves in the book, while Maggie loses one and gains another. Do you think Maggie finds peace and love for life with Cole? And is Sylvie truly happy alone for life, as she says?
I like to think the endings of all my books are open to interpretation. I think Cole and Maggie have a lovely partnership, which is the grounding for all the most successful relationships. As for Sylvie, I strongly suspect she does end up alone, and is happier for it. She has known love, both the good and the bad, and that is enough for her.
Who was your favorite character to write about? Who was the hardest for you to relate to?
I loved writing Sylvie, but found Maggie hard in the beginning because she wasn't particularly likable. You think you can find things to like in your character when you have their background, when you understand why they behave badly, but it is still difficult to empathize. However, as Maggie transforms, I fell in love with her, and felt so proud of the woman she becomes.
How has your career transformed since you first became a published author? Now, it seems your books sell based on your name alone.
Sadly, I don't think books ever sell based on your name alone — the minute we make an assumption like that is the minute it all goes horribly wrong! There is greater pressure than ever to write really strong books that will not only keep your existing readership happy, but hopefully pull in many new readers. I'm blessed to have a new editor who has transformed the way I write. My plots are far stronger now, and I'm happy to say I think I'm finally writing "page-turners," thanks to her. I do believe I'm writing the best books of my career, and am gravitating more and more to an element of suspense that I think was missing in the earlier books. It will be interesting to see where it goes!
What's the last great book you read?
May We Be Forgivenby A.M. Homes. I'm currently on a reading binge, and have read so many fantastic books recently:Hell and High Waterby Joy Castro;Still Missingby Chevy Stevens,Into The Darkest Cornerby Elizabeth Haynes.
Do you have an all-time favorite author or book?
Tales of the Cityby Armistead Maupin has to be up there with my all-time favorites, but I'm adding A.M. Homes to the list, as I'm ploughing my way through her books, all of which are beautifully written, wise, warm, and spectacularly funny. I'm a new devotee.
What are you working on now?
I've just finishedTempting Fate, about a woman who may or may not be embarking on a mid-life crisis, and am starting a new book calledStolen Lives. It's too early to reveal!
Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?
Write, write, then write some more. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised every day: The more you write, the easier it becomes. Be extraordinarily disciplined: Writing is my job — if I waited for inspiration to strike, I would never have had 14 novels published. And persist. Write because you love it, because you have a story to tell, not because you think you're going to be the next J.K. Rowling.
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