JR: First let me say that I’m delighted to have been so warmly welcomed into the book blogosphere! Yes, I’ve taken what some may consider an untraditional path to being an author...I’ve worked in politics at both the state and national level, I was a local TV news reporter in NYC and have served as a media advisor to high-profile figures. However, whether working on political campaigns, in a newsroom or as a consultant - my craft and skill set has always centered around the art of communication. Writing has been the constant in my work, regardless of the field. My unique career experience has not only given me a rich reservoir from which to pull from, but expanded the style and range of my writing...so I wouldn’t change anything about the path that led me to this moment.
LPFR: Please tell us about your book in one sentence.
JR: A blonde NYC television news reporter has an intoxicating affair with a hunky morning anchor.
LPFR: I mentioned in my review that I found the September 11th part to be passionate and realistic. If you don't mind sharing, were you working in media during that time? Did you find it challenging to write about such a powerful event?
JR: The September 11th scene was inspired by my experience while working as a production assistant at WNBC 4, the NBC affiliate in NYC, that day in 2001. I had been on the job only a few days, with no previous experience in a TV newsroom...so, that, combined with the magnitude of the event, made for a powerful day. It was challenging to write...it was important to me to accurately convey the pace, intensity and mood of a newsroom while covering a story with that much dimension, tragedy and scale. I wanted to pull back the veil on what was really happening behind-the-scenes in NYC newsrooms that day and my experience of actually being there hopefully helped me to portray the scene and the characters in an authentic way.
LPFR: What is your favorite part of the story?
JR: That’s such a tough question! Every word, every sentence, every scene has meaning for me. I did particularly love writing the chapter when Jules and Jack unexpectedly cross paths at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles...because the central theme of that exchange is one that I am constantly fascinated by, which is, the interplay between the life that we want and the life we create and often the misalignment between the two. The scene examines the idea of self-sabotage and self-deception...how is it that after so much sacrifice and hard work, just when Jules’s greatest wishes are coming true, she still finds herself stuck in a pattern that is destructive to her well-being? Every moment of our lives is an opportunity for transformation and that moment is a pivotal one for Jules...it clearly triggers something in her.
LPFR: The ending was a surprise to me. Did you write the story with the ending in mind, or did the character development lead you there?
JR: The ending was a surprise to me too! Without giving too much away, for those who have yet to read it, I will say that I had a completely different ending when I wrote the first draft of the novel. As I spent more time with the characters and worked through multiple drafts, they helped me write the story...not the other way around. There were many times when the book seemed more real to me than what was happening in my day-to-day life...it may sound strange, but I grew very attached to the characters and loved being immersed in their world, so I went along for the ride with them...and was just as surprised by where they ended up.
LPFR: You have lived in both Washington, DC, and NYC, just like Jules. What is your favorite thing about each city?
JR: I truly love both cities. I lived in Washington, D.C. during a very formative seven years of my life, it is where I went to university and and started my professional career and so its impact on me was tremendous. I was fortunate to have been exposed to the highest levels of government, diplomacy and scholarship while living there...being a part of living history is by far my favorite thing about my time there.
New York City has been my home for more than a dozen years and every day it feels brand new. New York City has an energy and magnetism that invites you to dance from the minute you walk out your door. It evolves and unfolds before your eyes and is a magical place to live as a writer...it is my very own fantasy island. Depending on the seasons, I feel drawn to a different little corner of the city...at the moment it is NoLita...I can spend hours there just drinking cappuccino and watching the world unfold.
LPFR: What made you decide to write and publish your first novel?
JR: I left the news business because I wanted to focus on my writing. Being a full-time writer and author was definitely always a childhood dream...and one, that even after three decades, I wasn’t ready to give up on. For years, I’d jot down notes, ideas and outlines for stories. I didn’t really know what form they would take, but I knew there was something there. The pieces of the novel came together organically...it was the one story that kept coming to me - torrents of dialogue and scenes would hit me, often when I was doing something else, so I knew this was the first story that wanted to be told.
LPFR: What was the hardest part of the writing/publishing process?
JR: The most challenging part of writing the novel was being patient enough to receive the story. Being a journalist was a great apprenticeship because it gave my writing discipline and focus. But writing fiction is completely different. I had to learn not to force timelines and release myself from external goals, and instead create the circumstances in which the writing would flow naturally.
When it came to getting the book published, I went the traditional route (with a top literary agency, etc.) for more than two years and became completely fed-up with the lack of progress, arcane pace and quiet frankly the pomposity of it all. Luckily we live in an age when technology has made the traditional ‘gatekeepers’ largely irrelevant. But in a town where image is everything, the hardest part of independently publishing my book was having the courage and humility to do it. Once I got over the fear and released from ego, everything started to fly!
LPFR: What are you working on now? Can we expect another book any time soon?
JR: I’m always writing...at the moment I’m dabbling between two genres...fiction and memoir. But I’ve learned that, for me, it is better to keep the exact story a bit of a mystery...it is the only way to be fully present in the world I'm creating. Outside inquiry and examination are the quickest ways to get yanked out. Daniel Day-Lewis has a great quote in the opening of the film Nine, playing the character Guido Contini, based on the amazing filmmaker Federico Fellini, he said “You kill your film several times, mostly by talking about it”...as a creative, these are words to live by.
Thanks so much to Jennifer Rainville for this interview!