(From Debra: I’m so happy to welcome New York Times Bestselling author, Jill Barnett today. She is a lovely, kind, genuine woman who is absolutely funny. And she sometimes makes me cry, but isn’t that what the best writers are *supposed* to do?)
I was watching the Piers Morgan Oprah interview the other night and was struck by something she said when asked where she’d be if she weren’t Oprah. “I would have been a 4th grade teacher,” she said. “Because I love sharing with people. I love the moments where people are understanding something in a new way, something they’ve never thought of before.”
That’s the whole Oprah show (with the exception of giving away cars, trips, and favorite things) in a nutshell—the sharing of experiences with each other, especially touching something kindred between women. I will forever remember the Eat, Pray, Love show, where so many of the audience had lived through Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey back to happiness. She touched something universal in each of those women by sharing her story.
I have never thought of myself as that kind of writer. But I did remember when I conceived BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS and March Cantrell’s story, that I wanted to write a woman’s journey–her honest experiences–and I told a close writer friend that I was going to write this book so the reader was right there with March, there to live her life, both beautiful and terrible, to stumble when she stumbles. I wanted the reader to feel joy when March feels joy, to feel her love and lose, to watch her get so terribly lost that she forgets who she is. And I wanted the reader to be by March’s side when she triumphs and finds herself again, to be there to experience her confidence and joy and surprise when she is able to find happiness again, and learn that love is not lost.
Setting the book in San Francisco was important to me, as was the Lake Tahoe setting. I have lived in both those places. I love them, and know them as well as I know anywhere I’ve called home. In my dedication I explain that her experiences are not mine. I made up every single scene; it’s fiction—that’s my job, to make things up. (I lie for a living.) So I am not Elizabeth Gilbert. I created the characters and their words, even the songs, but I placed them in real places I know so well I can still taste the air.
I am not Oprah, but I’ve shared a few photos I took of the places I used as inspiration for March’s home and life in San Francisco, a city I adore. (Note from Debra: click on the link to see Jill’s photos in a short slide show!)
In BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS, I have also shared an experience, a woman’s journey, and I share this because I hope that in reading her story, women will find something kindred, something shared, something possible. And maybe when they read the last page, they’ll find a little happiness.
Question from Debra: How long will a wonderful story stay with you? How long will a satisfying read lift your spirits? One lucky commenter will win an electronic edition of BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS! (This release is a special ebook only release.)