Answering your questions about writing, publishing, and marketing books
May 5, 2016 (San Diego's East County) - Local writer, award-winning journalist and USA Today best-selling author Jennifer Coburn is finally joining me to offer advice to authors and talk about her latest book, We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir. I've been trying to get her here for months and have been a fan since reading The Wife of Reilly, though I had no idea at the time that Coburn lived in San Diego – not until we both ended up scheduled at a local author event at the Barnes & Noble in Santee. She was promoting We'll Always Have Paris, her first memoir. Coburn has also authored six novels and contributed to four literary anthologies, not bad for someone who originally thought she couldn't write a novel.
How do you decide whether to write a sequel? - G. Elizabeth Kretchmer, author of Women on the Brink
JC: I’ve only written one sequel, THE QUEEN GENE, which is a sequel to TALES FROM THE CRIB, and as I was writing the final chapters of the first, it was clear I needed to write a follow-up. I just felt a sense of not being done with these characters and their stories. The storyline in the first had resolved, but there was so much more I knew I could do with this cast. Plus, I was going to miss them and wanted to hang out with them a little longer. I hoped that readers might feel the same way and want a sequel.
SJ: When I initially wrote Between Boyfriends, I planned for it to be a standalone. But after I finished I realized the story wasn't over, and it was already too long to consider adding chapters. Write a sequel when the story isn't over, not because your publisher wants you to do it or because you could think of more stuff that could happen. What was your favorite experience while writing We'll Always Have Paris?
JC: I got a lot out of revisiting my childhood experiences for the flashback scenes. It wasn’t always enjoyable, but it was better than five years of therapy. I gained a much better understanding of my father’s struggles and my mother’s courage. Most people assume the best part of writing a European travel memoir is getting to relive the trips, and that was fun too, but my favorites writing was about NYC in the 1970s and 80s.
SJ: Does your daughter like the memoir?
JC: She does. She read the book at 16 years old and got a kick out of the fact that she had no idea how clueless I was on our first trip. I think that’s better that eight-year-old Katie thought I knew what I was doing.
SJ: The blurb for We'll Always Have Paris says your adventures helped vanquish your fear of dying. Are you fearless now? Do you find yourself tempted to do crazy things like skydiving without a backup parachute or picking a fight with a new Chargers draft pick?
JC: I’m not at all fearless, I’m just a little more at peace than I was before. Travel helped me enjoy life more, but I am still anxious about death. I was at Target last week and I bought a package of 5,000 Q-Tips and a small voice inside my head wondered if I’d make it to the end of the box. So naturally, I’m using more Q-Tips.
SJ: What's your favorite local spot to write? Read?
JC: I’m pretty basic in this regard. I write at my computer at home. I don’t even own a laptop. I like to read anywhere, but mostly in bed.
SJ: What do you do when you're not writing?
JC: I love to read, go to theatre, and have an ongoing hobby of losing and gaining weight. (I’m really good at the gaining part!)
SJ: What are you working on now?
JC: Overcoming the crippling anxiety that comes from that question. Which is to say nothing right now.
SJ: What was the best piece of writing advice you've received?
JC: About 15 years ago, an agent suggested I write a novel instead of the book of essays I’d proposed. I told her I couldn’t write a novel. I only wrote in chunks of 1,500-2,000 words. She said (add gravelly smoker’s voice and New York accent), “So, do that 50 times.” That totally flipped a switch for me.
About Sarka-Jonae Miller
SJ is a local author, book marketing manager, publicist, and columnist who writes chick lit and steamy romance based in San Diego and Los Angeles. Her novels include the Between Boyfriends series and the All for You series.
SJ also writes health and fitness articles for Align Life and Natural News. Read her Between Boyfriends blog for book reviews, author interviews, TV episode synopses, and giveaways. Follow @sarkajonae and @sjpublicity9 on Twitter for more writing tips, book recommendations, and industry news. Get health and exercise articles from @sjnews9.