I am excited to have Jen Turano on my blog today. Her latest book Caught by Surprise will be arriving on bookshelves on July 31st! So grab a cup of coffee and join us in a fun conversation about books! – Becca
Hi Jen, I’d like to start off with some questions so your reader’s can get to know you a little bit better.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
I’ve been married to Al for almost thirty years – I know, I must have been a mere child when I married him, right? We weren’t in a real hurry to start a family, but after we’d been married for about seven years, the company I was working for was bought out. I decided I’d had just about enough of the fashion industry at that point, so we decided we might want to give the whole parenthood thing a try. About a year later, Dominic was born. He was a, well, challenging child is being kind, but that right there exactly explains why he’s an only child. I always thought I’d have three children, but Dom took care of that idea.
What hobbies and activities do you like to do?
I do two powerwalks a day – five miles each, and even though I do a lot of plotting while I walk, I only walk that far because once a girl reaches a certain age, even looking at cake will end up on my hips. I don’t really have any hobbies, although before I started writing I used to like to do cross-stitch, but I simply can’t find the time to do that these days. I’m a very social kind of girl, so I always make time to meet my friends out and about on the weekends.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I’m a morning person, and I’m a talkative morning person which I’ve heard can be very annoying to non-morning people.
Growing up, what did you see yourself doing as a career?
You know, the usual – movie star, singer, bus driver.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I was really shy when I was little – so shy in fact that I’d hide when any adults would come to our house to visit with my parents. Because of that, I used to hide in very unusual spaces, such as closets. And while in those closets, I’d take my books. I learned to read when I was three and I’ve never really stopped reading. I’ve also always had a pretty vivid imagination, which does help when it comes to thinking up stories.
Thank you for these great answers! I have some questions about your writing and books.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I do a ton of research mostly through non-fiction books about the Gilded Age, newspapers from the 1880’s, data banks from libraries, and am always keeping my eyes open for new sources. The time I spend changes with each book. If I’m setting a book in New York City, I already have a fairly extensive grasp on the Gilded Age in the city. I recently set one of my books near Pittsburgh, so that took me about a month of new research time since I didn’t know that much about Pittsburgh in 1885.
Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There are a lot of things in my books that are from real life – usually the more outlandish scenes. I have been chased by peacocks, I have gotten stuck to chairs, I’m a nightmare on the dancefloor, and I have a lot of wacky friends.
What weather inspires you the most, in terms of bringing out your literary best?
Weather doesn’t really impact my writing. Since I only write in my office, it’s always the same for me – day after day, after day.
Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?
I have to turn in a proposal before I even get a new series approved from my publisher, so there’s always an outline of what the story is going to be about and where it’s going to go. There’s no saying I’m going to stick to that proposal, but I do detailed outlines for five chapters in advance, which does allow my characters to have a say in what they want to happen, which they tend to do rather frequently.
Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with again?
Nope – once I look over the design pages – that’s the last time I get to see the manuscript before it goes to print, I never revisit the book again. Because I write series, I do have contact with the same characters, but I’m always ready to move on after I finish a book.
If you had the choice to rewrite any of your books, which one would it be and why?
I shudder even thinking about that question, so no, I would not choose to rewrite any of my books.
Which book would you want adapted for the silver screen?
“Behind the Scenes.” It’s one of my favorite books and I think Alva Vanderbilt’s ball would be a great opening scene for a movie.
Your latest book Caught by Surprise is coming out in just a few days! This sounds like a fun book!
Can you tell us a bit about your novel?
This is Miss Temperance Flowerdew’s story, paired with Mr. Gilbert Cavendish. I’ve never really done a story with two friends as the leads before, so thought I’d give it a try. Temperance and Gilbert have known each other for years, even though they’ve spent the last few years apart, but circumstances find them in a compromising situation, which is anything but compromising, and they’re forced to contemplate marriage – and to each other.
What inspired you to write this story?
The idea for the story – or rather the opening for the story – which then leads to the entire story, came about when I read about what happened to A.T. Stewart – owner of one of the first department stores in New York. His body got stolen, you see, and after I read that, well, an entire book sprang to mind and…there you have it.
What is one thing that you learned while researching for this book that was surprising to you?
Part of this book is set in Chicago, which is a new setting for me. I found Mrs. Bertha Potter, wife of Palmer Potter, to be a fascinating woman. She was quite a bit younger than her husband, and as a wedding gift to her, he built the Palmer House Hotel – an extravagant hotel that burned down within a few weeks of opening. But, Palmer, being a determined sort and wanting to impress his new bride, rebuilt the Palmer House within a year, and it was one of the finest hotels in Chicago. Readers will see this hotel again in a different series, as well as get to visit some of the lovely department stores in Chicago.
What do you want readers to take away from your books?
That it’s okay to be different, and that laughter is something that cannot be overrated.
What will you be writing next?
I’m doing an American Heiress series next – but of course, it’s an heiress series with a bit of a twist – as in my heiresses go a bit…rogue.
Do you hide any Easter Eggs in your books that only a few people will find? Would you be willing to share a clue with your readers?
I do not, but if I did, I’d certainly share.
Thanks for having me, Becca!
~ Jen ~
Purchase your copy here:
Amazon: Caught by Surprise
Christianbook.com : Caught by Surprise #3