In honor of the release of her first fiction novel, If You Were Here, Jen (through her publicist) offered me an interview in her home.
Both she and her husband, Fletch, are very warm, welcoming and extremely gracious. A tour of their home reveals a secret: Jen is an extremely talented interior designer. She rummages through antique stores and vintage shops, picks items most people would not even notice, and is able to display them so they appear to be valuable designer pieces.
She prides herself on pointing out different pieces of furniture and saying, “outlet” or “vintage — bought it for a song.” Don’t be surprised if her next enterprise is a chain of designer furniture–found by her at garage and rummage sales and “improved” by Fletch.
But it’s not Jen who rules the house. Nor is it Fletch. It’s their three dogs: a bulldog mix, a pit bull, and a labradoodle who is a dead ringer for a German shepherd. All three love to lick faces and get belly rubs. The dogs are allowed on the beds, the couches, probably even the tables (although, to be honest, I didn’t see that during my visit).
Jen told me about her schedule when she’s actually writing a book. As those who read her memoirs know, she waits until two to three months before the book is due. Then, “…it’s like a full-time job. I start at 8:00 am and write until lunch. An hour for a lunch break, and then I work until 5:00 or 6:00. That’s five days a week.”
How does Jen remember enough of her life to write the memoirs without taking copious notes every day? Jen can turn a 400 word blog into a 4,000 word piece; a twitter feed can be a whole chapter. Because she has a photographic memory, she can remember virtually all details. She explained, “If it’s like gossip, I’ll remember it.”
For the next few days, however, Jen Lancaster will be packing. She’s getting ready for her book tour for If You Were Here. The tour is long. City after city, signing books and meeting fans–and she loves it.
Jen truly does love meeting her fans. “Everyone who reads me is someone I’d like to hang out with.” Note that doesn’t mean she wants you to pop over just to hang with her, Fletch, and the dogs. But she is sincere that she appreciates her fans–the ones who read her blog and especially the ones who buy her books.
Although If You Were Here is a work of fiction, not a memoir, her fans won’t be disappointed. Those who read her memoirs will love her fiction. It’s all about her and Fletch (now Mia and Mac), perhaps slightly exaggerated.
Jen’s first idea for this book was that it would be a memoir about her and Fletch buying a house and the problems that might ensue. That wasn’t working out.
So she went to John Hughes’ grave with some roses (really, just like in the book!), and it was there that she figured out how John Hughes would appear (posthumously, of course) in the story. And the result is the semi-fictional, entertaining, touching, and, of course, extremely humorous book, If You Were Here.
What’s funny about Jen’s book and her real recent purchase of a home is that the book, with its story of remodeling and renovation horrors came first–the real house remodeling came second.
That’s not how Jen’s life usually goes. Because a memoir must be true, Jen explained, she would find herself in “stupid situations where a normal person would extricate herself; I roll with it–it might be funny.” Fiction, on the other hand, is not real. Jen can make it all up! Much more fun (according to her) and no weird situations to endure for her art (my thought).
Jen has more fiction planned. Mia and Mac’s story will not end with If You Were Here.Fans will like knowing that two more books are on the horizon. Better yet, Jen plans on writing two books every year–so fans won’t have so long to wait for the next full-length episode of Jennsylvania! Stay tuned.