‘Girl On The Run’: Jane Costello Tells All About Her Writing
September 18, 2012
By: Lauranne Heres
To celebrate the release of her latest book ‘All The Single Ladies’, I’ve decided to ask Jane Costello a few questions about her writing, her characters and her upcoming projects. Jane has previously published four books, and her growing success is proof that we ladies love a good book where the girls are feisty and the lads are less than perfect, but oh so perfect anyway. But before we dive straight into Jane’s world, here’s a little summary of Jane’s latest book…
Sam and Jamie are the perfect couple, but after six years together, Jamie drops a bombshell: He wants to move to South America. Alone. Unable to deal with rejection, especially as Jamie still loves her, Sam vows to get him back, no matter what it takes. With the help of her two best friends she decides on a plan that will have Jamie giving up his teenage pipe dreams and running straight back into her arms. But what if someone else had already made his way into Sam’s heart?
Now without further ado, here’s what Jane said…
1) I’ve read all of your books and I’ve loved every single one of them. How do you come up with an idea for a novel?
There are times when the ideas slip into my brain without much effort at all – but I can’t say that happens as often as I’d like. Most of the time, I’m scratching around for ages trying to find ‘The One’ – an idea that’s big, bold and compelling enough for me to invest 100,000 words in and a year of my life.
Before I settle on a theme a novel, I’ll often come up with a few potential concepts. That way I can choose the one that feels that leaps out as the strongest. It often comes down to this simple thing: which one would I like to read if I picked it up in a bookshop?
2) Your female characters are more often than not successful in their careers and love lives (unless the loss of it all brings about the plot); do you create these as a role model for women who nowadays find it even harder to make it in the world?
I don’t set out to create anything as high-minded as role-models, but I’d certainly say this: my heroines have qualities I admire in other women. I deliberately wanted to avoid your archetypal ditzy chick-lit heroine and instead try to make characters that are strong, intelligent and loyal, at the same time as funny and flawed.
I usually try to make my heroine strive to overcome the odds in arenas that go beyond their love lives – I make their family and work lives an important part of the story too. Equally, I want them to – ultimately at least – make good decisions when it comes to men. I couldn’t be doing with writing about the type of woman who’d put up with appalling behaviour from boyfriends or would sit around bemoaning how awful life is when you’re single. We deserve better, ladies!
3) Your male characters range from the outrageously seductive to the geeky, laid-back dude. Do you base them on men you know or men you wish for?
Definitely men I’d wish for – and others too, because people are always contacting me on Twitter to say: ‘Where can I pick up a Henry?’ or ‘I want a Ben!’ They’re not perfect, my heroes – they’re very human (at least I hope so) and, as you say, they’re very different from each other. But the one thing they have in common is that they’re genuinely good men. The sort of bloke who wouldn’t mess you around, who treats women with respect and – hell yes! – is prepared to step up his game and make the odd grand (if not spectacular) gesture when required.
4) All of your characters have strong friends with them. Is that something you truly believe in? Is it essential to life?
Absolutely. I’ve really learnt the value of female friendship over the years and will never take my friends for granted. They’ve been through thick and thin with me – babies, career changes, divorce, the lot! One of my favourite parts of writing a book is creating that strong circle of friends. I love putting together their dialogue, imagining how their different personalities would bounce off each other, just like most of us do with our real friends.
5) You write love stories that make your readers cry and laugh with the characters. Do you believe in true love yourself? And do you think we only have one, or more?
Yes, I believe in true love but I like to think I’m a realistic romantic. I don’t think being in love with someone for the long-term is hearts and flowers all the way – relationships have their ups and downs. I read something recently that said we’ve never had higher expectations for relationships than now. Centuries ago, life expectancy was much lower, and the idea that you’d remain in this blissful, extended honeymoon period for evermore just was never around. These days, that’s what so many of us seem to expect – and when it doesn’t happen, decide we must’ve been with the wrong person all along and get divorced. All that said, it is amazing when you meet someone who really blows you away – there’s nothing better than that feeling of really falling for someone… it’s unbeatable.
6) Did you always want to be a writer or is that a passion you discovered later in life?
Always. From the day I read 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith as a little girl, I’ve loved stories – both reading them and writing them. That said, it took many abortive (and, I’d have to confess, some abysmal) attempts before I finally actually completed my first novel. I’m no overnight success, that’s for sure.
7) Do you have a particular writing regime?
My children are both at school these days so I write when they’re there. I produce one book a year so will try and complete a first draft within a few months, then spend the rest of the time re-drafting until every little flaw in it is ironed out. I’m terribly OCD about my books… which is possibly why, even though I have a full year to write them, I’m still typing away like a maniac the day before my deadline.
8 ) What advice could you give a budding writer?
First and foremost, accept that writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to stick at it, even during those horrible times when it feels too hard to go on and all you can see is problems with what you’ve written so far. Secondly, seek out and listen to advice – whether that’s contained simply in a book about writing novels (I’d recommend two: Celia Brayfield’s Bestseller and Stephen King’s On Writing) or from agents to whom you’ve submitted some work.
9) Are you already planning a new novel, and can you reveal a little about what it will be about?
My next one is called The Big 3-Oh and will be published in April 2013. It follows the story of Emma Reiss and her friends, who are about to turn thirty. For Emma, this ‘defining moment’ is defined largely by her having achieved none of the things she thought she would. Her career is all wrong, her love life is a desert and that penthouse apartment she pictured herself in never materialised. As an endless round of birthday parties sees Emma hurtle towards her own thirtieth, she sets about addressing these issues – but it’s fair to say that some of them are significantly more challenging than she’d thought.
Well that’s all from Jane Costello, I hope you’ll now whiz on Amazon and buy all of her books, you know, as suggested reading material for uni…
A big thanks to Jane Costello for answering my questions in such detail, and also to Emma Harrow from Simon and Schuster for passing on my request!
Pictures from : dooyoo.co.uk; images-amazon.com; blogspot.com; icnetwork.co.uk