Thursday, September 13, 2012

THE FIVE W’S Of Jane Heller

I’m a nice Jewish girl from the NY suburbs who grew up watching “I Love Lucy” and, later, reading Susan Isaacs and Nora Ephron and have always loved funny women. That’s why, whenever I get comments from readers telling me my books made them laugh out loud, I’m a happy author. I try to write about subjects we can all relate to – from sibling rivalry and mother-daughter struggles to marital conflicts and career problems. I always say, “My novels are romantic comedies but they aren’t about how to get a guy. They’re about an ordinary woman with a problem and in course of solving the problem she finds true love.” Speaking of true love, after two divorces, I’m about to celebrate my 20th anniversary with Husband #3 (the third time’s the charm), and he’s such a good guy that he doesn’t mind when I use him for material.  We lived in CT early in our marriage (my first two novels, CLEAN SWEEP and THE CLUB, are set there), then decided we were tired of cold weather and moved to FL (two of my other novels, INFERNAL AFFAIRS and SIS BOOM BAH, are set there). Then, as more and more of my books were sold to Hollywood (nine of them have been optioned for movies and television), we took our act to CA (THE SECRET INGREDIENT, LUCKY STARS and SOME NERVE are set there). We live up in the hills of Santa Barbara with a view of the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains and feel very lucky to be surrounded by beauty, along with the occasional rattlesnake, bobcat and mountain lion. (I carry a little canister of pepper spray when I go for a walk, but am convinced I’d spray myself by accident and have never used it.)

WHAT? What do you enjoy doing other than writing in your spare time?
Last year I started doing yoga and I’m totally into it; after a day sitting at the computer writing, it feels great to move my body. I love afternoon walks too, either near my house or down by the beach. I’m a baseball fanatic and as a former New Yorker I follow the Yankees obsessively. In fact, my first nonfiction book was CONFESSIONS OF A SHE-FAN about my passion for the boys in pinstripes. I read a lot – mostly at night and mostly fiction by and about women. And I’m in love with movies. We have a great film festival in Santa Barbara and get to see many of the Oscar contenders at screenings before the films are released, plus visits from the actors for Q&As. I’m still in a daze that George Clooney came to the screening of his movie “Ides of March.” He was everything you’d want a movie star to be. I only hope one of my books will finally make it to the screen. One of them, AN EX TO GRIND, is in development at Fox now to star Cameron Diaz and Benecio Del Toro.

WHEN? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a writer. It never occurred to me that I could write books – not even during the 10 years I was working with authors as publicity director at several New York publishing houses. I was perfectly satisfied being behind the scenes. And then one day I got an idea for a story. Just like that. It was about a woman who loses all her money in the terrible economy and then her husband dumps her and then her house is about to go into foreclosure. She swallows her pride and answers an ad for a maid – only to have her employer get murdered and the police think she did it. I wrote a few pages each night and when I got to page 200 I said, “Hey, look, Jane. You’re writing a novel.” I found an agent, she sold the book (CLEAN SWEEP) and I’ve been writing ever since – 15 books later.

WHERE? Where do you write? 
I have an office in our house. I work on an iMac and sit at a real desk in a real chair and approach my writing as seriously as if I were clocking in at a real job.

WHY? Why do you write?
I love making people laugh, as I said, but I also love telling stories about women. I think we lead such rich lives – our dating experiences, our heartbreaks, our marriages and divorces, our climbs up the career ladder, our issues with our families. The storytelling possibilities are endless, but for me the trick is to find the “funny” in it all. I write comedy, even in my nonfiction. My next book is called YOU’D BETTER NOT DIE OR I’LL KILL YOU and it’s a survival guide for caregivers that features my personal essays about being married to a man with a chronic illness. It demonstrates that even in the grimmest times – especially in the grimmest times – we need to laugh. And now that all my novels are available in new ebook editions, I’m hoping a lot more readers will be laughing along with me.

Thank-you so much for joining us here on A Novel Review, Jane! It was wonderful getting to you! Oh and once I had pepper spray in my purse and it must have leaked and got on my hands--I rubbed it on my eye and thought I'd go crazy! I no longer carry it!

I've added a widget with Jane's books--now available as e-books! Just click the link and you can make a purchase!

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