Monday, August 30, 2021

TBR: Jane of Battery Park by Jaye Viner

TBR [to be read] is an invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe.


Give us your elevator pitch: what’s your book about in 2-3 sentences?


A Los Angeles nurse with a dark past tries to start life over with the man of her dreams only to discover he’s as much a part of her past as her present.


Which character did you most enjoy creating? Why? And, which character gave you the most trouble, and why?


The character I most enjoyed creating was the blockbuster movie star Steve. I read several Hollywood bios and autobios (Rob Lowe, Tab Hunter), I watched Entourage, and then I built on those sources with my own imagination. I think readers will hate Steve, but he’s just as complex as the main characters. He wants to be loved in a genuine way, but being a beautiful person has conditioned him to certain behaviors and he feels pressure to perform.


Rhea, Steve’s mother, was the most challenging character I wrote for the book. She’s a secondary character, but she’s also really important to the texture of the story. Many early drafts her voice felt off, and then she felt stereotypical. I really struggled with giving her life without having it take over the book.


Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.


I started writing this book in 2012 and thought it was finished in 2014. I went through three rounds of sending queries to agents, then workshopping in an MFA, then more agents, and no one picked it up. I knew Kate Gale, the editor at Red Hen, and, when agents felt the big publishers couldn’t sell it, she picked it up.


What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?


The difference between thinking you’re a writer and being a writer, is making space for writing. If you don’t make space for it, no amount of wanting is going to help you.


My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?


How much my idea of what the story was supposed to be changed over the drafts. I started out thinking I was writing to help coastal people understand the appeal of home-grown conservative religion in the Midwest. But the book ended up being much more about the process of deconstructing fundamentalist belief and how a person figures out who they are when they want to come from a different place.


How did you find the title of your book?


The title refers to the main character, Jane’s, desire to remake herself as a woman from place different than where she comes from. A foundational scene takes place in Battery Park in New York City. It changes the direction of her life. She thinks of herself as Jane from Battery Park because of that moment, claiming the park and the events there as her foundational homeplace.


Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might share?)


Sadly no recipes, but there’s a lot of sushi in the book. One of the things Jane wants to learn is how to eat sushi correctly. Much of what happens in this article is in the book.








READ AN EXCERPT, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2:



DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.