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Monday 5 December 2022

Jill Amadio talks with writer Jane Green


Jane Green

When your own books in hardcover and paperback take up almost an entire shelf at the local library it appears that author Jane Green spends all of her waking hours pounding the keyboard, Hardly. Her several hands-on hobbies include creating lace-embossed pottery, designing filmy, silk caftans, knitting, and heading up an online  book club.
“I tend to be obsessive”, she admitted, “with some of my compulsions ending up in my books”. She took a silversmith course and set up a fully equipped jewelry studio in her basement until a month later she turned her talents to candle-making. A while back she published a cookbook called “Good Taste” after graduating from the International Culinary Institute in New York.

“Of all the many lessons I learned at the Institute, one of the most useful was how to organize, and to clean as you go”, she said. Preferring to entertain guests rather than spend time cooking, her book is described as containing simple, easy, and delicious offerings for family and friends gathered in her kitchen. “I often add recipes to my fiction but the publishers don’t always like the idea. The editor takes the recipes out and, in the next draft, I slip them back in”.

While they are not considered mysteries or thrillers in the accepted sense, several of Green’s novels include dangerous elements and sinister, dark secrets in their page-turning plots. There’s even touches of Satanism and black magic in the scripts she writes. Her books are a master class in characterization and human relationships, with most of them written in the present tense for immediacy, adding to the tension, although only the Prologue in “Sister Stardust”, is written in real time while the remainder of the book is in past tense.

Jane Green began her career as a reporter with the Daily Express newspaper in London. A friend and fellow journalist had just published a book and told Jane she should try one herself.
“I fell into journalism and then fell into fiction. I wrote my first novel just for fun. To my great surprise it was almost immediately bought by Heinemann, and I went on to write more books and luckily attracted more
publishers including Penguin, Harper, St. Martin’s, and Macmillan”.

Green’s latest book is her first venture into biographical fiction, Sister Stardust, published this year, 2022, by Canada’s Hanover Square Press. Based on the life of Dutch socialite, actress and model Talitha Pol Getty, wife of oil heir and playboy John Paul Getty Jr., some of the book’s action takes place in their palace in Marrakech, Morocco where many of the world’s richest people enjoyed the exotic ambience in the swinging ‘60s
“I came at the book sideways working from the outside in because there was very little known about her,” said Green, “aside from memoirs of their own lives by other people. I usually visit most of my settings in person with the publisher’s blessing. It’s important for me to be there for the smells and the sounds, to explore the cuisine and to be able to touch things and talk to people”. Her curiosity knows no bounds and often takes an interesting turn. “Why”, she wonders, “is there a period, a full stop, under a question mark and an exclamation point”?

Green’s current interest is embroidering images of snakes onto linen tableware, but she’s not finished with art yet. Prominently displayed on a wall of her small home is her large, framed black and white digital composition of friend Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. She boldly added two bands of gold across the middle of the artwork to provide splashes of color. Unlike the large mansion she previously owned in one of Connecticut’s wealthiest suburbs her one-bedroom residence is appropriately dubbed Mouse House that she shares with her husband. It is close to the beach and was built deliberately on the compact side so that, she said in her refreshingly frank manner, “there’s no space for guests or our grown children to stay here!” 

A couple of years ago writers block struck. She decided a different environment was necessary, so she rented a one-man office and went there every morning, forcing herself to sit and write.
“I wrote anything when I had no idea what to say. And, as always, the magic happened. The characters woke up as did I”, she said. “Their lives got busy, and it became a pleasure to come to the office each day”.

Novels such as Green’s were known as chick lit but now her books are categorized as women’s commercial fiction. Her sales are massive but like many current authors she finds that some publishers’ lack of support in several areas, especially marketing, demands a lot of non-writing time and work for an author.
“It can be disappointing, so I often set up my own book tours. This year I spent three months continually on the road at bookstores, writers’ meetings, luncheons at country clubs, yacht clubs, wineries, and at public libraries”.

She takes along her mini souk of caftans inspired by her research visits to Morocco, along with jewelry including snake pendants and bangles she has designed, and sets up a pop-up shop whenever she can, often at her talks and presentations.

A pro at television interviews, having covered royal weddings and other events for ABC television, she had her own radio show with the BBC in London. With 19 of her 23 novels New Yok Times bestsellers and having sold more than ten million copies (fellow Brits Jackie Collins sold 500 million and Barbara Cartland a billion), Green, a tall, elegant Londoner, recently expanded her creative ideas to include becoming the director of a podcast network in New York City for interviewing well-known authors, mostly via Zoom, and writing a radio crime drama and other scripts. She is the chief content officer for the podcasts, overseeing each show and currently working on a script that touches on Satanism and black magic.
“I have insane energy , she said, perhaps the greatest understatement she has ever voiced. “I tend to be obsessive”, she admitted, “with some of my compulsions ending up in my books. It’s all or nothing for me and my work. I take my laptop to bed and sometimes spend all the next day there writing, blogging, communicating, and researching for my next novel, script, or activity”.

Three of her books have been made into movies including Tempting Fate, Family Pictures, and To Have and To Hold, and others are in development for film and television. Jane Green is now in her mid-fifties, prompting one to wonder where her creative obsessions will take her next although she claims,
“My life is so settled these days”.

Jill Amadio hails from Cornwall, U.K, like the character in her crime series, Jill was a reporter in Spain,  Colombia, Thailand, and the U.S. She is a true crime author, ghosted a thriller, writes a column for Mystery People ezine, and freelances for My Cornwall magazine.  She lives in Connecticut. USA. Her most recent book is In Terror's Deadly Clasp, was published 16 July 2021. To read a review of the books click on the bookjacket.   

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