For legions of women on both sides of the pond, summer is Jane Green season. Books such as Dune Road, Summer Secrets and The Beach House have been beckoning from beach bags since Green got her start in the late ’90s, in her native U.K., sharing shelves with Helen Fielding and Jennifer Crusie when the market for women’s fiction was undergoing a youthful transformation. Now in her late 40s, a mother of five living in Connecticut, Green remains a consistent bestseller whose books—and readers—have grown with her. This July’s release, Falling: A Love Story, follows a convert from the corporate life as she starts over with a new home, a new family and ultimately a new perspective on life and love.
This post is by Jessica Strawser. Strawser is the chief editor of Writer's Digest magazine, where she often has the privilege of penning WD Interviews featuring writers she has long admired, including Alice Walker, David Sedaris and Stephen King. Her 15-year career in publishing has also included editing roles at a trio of nonfiction book imprints and even a brief stint in marketing and public relations. She's also a writer of women's fiction represented by literary agent Barbara Poelle, and—having first started querying agents for an entirely different, unsold novel back in 2011—is thrilled to be looking ahead to her 2017 debut novel, Almost Missed You, forthcoming from St. Martin's Press. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two young children. Connect with her on Twitter @JessicaStrawser and on Facebook, and visit her at jessicastrawser.com.
In a parallel publishing universe across the Atlantic, Freya North simultaneously climbed the charts in the U.K. with her own smooth reads that put entertaining, relatable women at the center. Since her debut, Sally, in 1996, the single mom of two has enjoyed a steady stream of her titles on The Sunday Times Top 10. Her latest, The Turning Point, came to the U.S. in May—with this summer affording a chance to make what North hopes will be her first big stateside splash.
Their books and their publishing careers have so much in common, it comes as little surprise that the authors do too—they’ve been best friends since childhood.
What are the odds that two girls who never intended to be writers would grow to share spots on the top charts, even with an ocean between them? In an exclusive dual interview in the September 2016Writer’s Digest, Green and North invited WD into their circle.
Here, in these responses we didn’t have space to print, Green and North discuss some differences between publishing overseas and stateside.
Freya, you've been so successful in the U.K. for so many years—it's hard to believe you just now making your debut in the U.S. with The Turning Point. How did this come about?
North: Well, two earlier novels, Secrets and Pillow Talks, had a limited and very quiet publication in the U.S. a few years ago—both sank without a trace, which I found so upsetting because they were very popular in other territories, and my American friends and family absolutely loved them. The Turning Point—well, I just don’t know where to begin. I have never known a book like it. I was utterly in its thrall. It was as if that story pre-existed and, odd as it may sound, I really find it hard to say that I “made it up.” I felt so strongly that I was simply the author lucky enough to get to write it down. It took me on such a journey, emotional and physical—and my time spent in Canada, where the book is partly set, was one of the most special and life-affirming experiences I’ve had. The Turning Point is a love story at heart but its themes are universal—of family, of love and loss, of seizing the day and also letting go, of taking chances and just believing deep down that whatever life throws at us, we will access the courage to face it head on. It was a joy to write—a year on, I think of [its characters] Frankie and Scott every day still. I really hope that readers in the U.S. will enjoy it.
Jane, with your experience on both sides of the pond, what are some of the biggest similarities and, conversely, most distinctive differences in writing and publishing for readers in the U.S. and the U.K.?
Green: The editing process is far more intense on this side of the pond. I was terrified of it for years, but now throw myself into it with glee—I have been taught to hone and craft, hone and craft. I now do at least one major rewrite, plus around three edits, and am so much prouder of the writing as a result.
[On the flip side,] I miss the unconventional approach to marketing in the U.K. In first Penguin, and now Pan Macmillan, I’ve been lucky enough to have always had a brilliantly creative team who have always come up with unconventional ways to position and market my books. It doesn’t happen in quite the same way in publishing in New York. Events here can still get decent crowds, whereas I think it may be harder in the UK … or perhaps that’s just me!
To read the full dual WD Interview with Jane Green and Freya North, check out the September 2016Writer’s Digest now.