Guest – Jill Barnett – LOVE, FALL, EAT…TRIUMPH.

(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.)

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23 Responses to Guest – Jill Barnett – LOVE, FALL, EAT…TRIUMPH.

  1. loisgreiman says:

    Thanks so much for joining us, Jill. And thanks for all the lies you tell so well.

  2. hjoanbr says:

    Hi Jill and welcome! I love these kind of woman’s journey books. We do all share so many common issues and even if the journey isn’t exactly ours we can identify so easily.

    As for Deb’s question … a wonderful story stays with me for life. It becomes a part of who I am somehow. Isn’t that cool?

  3. april says:

    I think a good book will stay with you forever. Maybe not the words or specific things, but you should take away something – something as big as a life lesson or something little like smiling every time you see the book or hear/see something that reminds you of it.

    I actually already have Bridge to Happiness so I don’t need to be included in the contest. I really liked it all and March’s journey, and it really is more of a journey than you usually get in a book which makes the story a little sweeter and more fulfilling.

  4. I think a really great book never leaves you. Something about the story, the characters, embeds into you and you’ll find yourself smiling over a remembered piece several years later.

  5. Laura Waite says:

    How long do you have a book in your head before you start writing it?

  6. Jill Barnett says:

    Lois you lie well, too! 🙂

    The woman’s journey: These are a whole genre unto themselves, and I think you’re right that there is something important to take away from the best of these kind of books. You should close them with a sense of hope, I think.

    Don’t you love the memory of a good book? You remembered how enthralled you were, how you laughed or cried. I adore Judith McNaught’s ONCE AND ALWAYS because I will never for get how I cried in that book. Greatest historical romance ending ever.

    How long does a book pickle? Sometimes I let the idea rest and come back years later. I have a book, a historical gothic I’ve been writing on the side for years. Every so often I will come back to it and write. These women’s fiction books rattle around my head the whole time, they play cruel games with me and are difficult for me to complete. There are so many more choices about where to go in a contemporary women’s journey book, or women’s fiction books. In a historical romance, you go this way or that, maybe a 3rd choice, but in a contemporary, you can go to a million different places. As for the head idea, I keep the idea in my head the whole time I’m writing and I can usually jump right into a book, then I come to a screeching halt when I realize I don’t know the characters well enough or I hit a wall because a scene is wrong or I’ve foregotten about the CONFLICT! My bigger problem IS keeping the idea clear in my head. Most often, I get all tied up in the writing and the characters and a scene and I forget the purpose of the whole story. Writers are either see the pieces or the whole. I’m a pieces kinf of gal, which is promblematic because that stops me. My best friend is a see the whole kind of gal and she gets stuck because she write the wrong scenes. It’s dilemma whatever kind of story conceiver you are.

  7. Hello, Jill! I’m so glad you’re riding with us today. Talk about women journeying–we’re the perfect bunch. Our “10 authors on the open road theme” is partly fun and frolic, but when I think about our virtual trip together and how our 10-way friendship has grown to include the “regulars” we’ve come to know, I realize that what was meant to be a figurative journey has become literal, too. Just one more example of the richness of women’s journeys.

    Needless to say, this is one of my favorite themes in a book, and I can’t wait to read BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS. Do I have to buy an e-reader for it? I haven’t done that yet–such a paper page addict am I–but I really really really want to read this book. Hmmm.

  8. Okay, so I said our journey has become literal, and I realize I’m stretching it. We’re not covering literal miles here. But I think of life as a journey. Some time ago I became fascinated with the diaries of women traveling west in the 19th century, covering miles and living lives, dealing with the same milestones every woman negotiates, just like our riders do. The woman’s journey can be set in any time, any circumstance, and in the hands of a writer like Jill Barnett, guaranteed universal appeal.

  9. Almost forgot. How long does a great book stay with me? For the duration. That’s my measure of “great.” I carry so many with me, and there’s always room for one more.

  10. MIchele says:

    Loved Eat, Pray, Love, and your book sounds like another winner. I love stories that touch my heart and stir up real emotions.

    Welcome to the convertible, Jill!

  11. debradixon says:

    Welcome, Jill !

    I agree the truly great books stay with us forever. That’s why we reread them. They speak to something in us.

  12. Lovely, Jill! Thanks so much for sharing with us about your wonderful books.

    As to how long a book will stay with me…weeks and weeks! Sometimes I have to “cleanse my palate” because of that. After I read the Hunger Games trilogy (young adult dystopian series) I had to read a lot of wonderful romances to up my mood!

  13. Hellion says:

    *squeals* I’m so glad that Jill Barnett–*waves at Jill*–is publishing again. I’ve been a fan since I’ve read Bewitching (so I was a little later to the fold), but I just adore your stories. Almost all of them have stuck with me even years later. Sometimes I’ll just reread your stories to get the lift again. (Dreaming and Wonderful are two of my favorites.)

    Those are the lighter stories, but I also really really enjoyed Sentimental Journey (I love WWII era set stories–I think they really are the greatest generation); and oh, dear, the summer book…the title is drawing a blank for me, but I remember your description of the little girl on the beach and the tar balls… These stories were more about women’s journeys or big emotional journeys than the sweeter frothier romances like Wonderful was.

    The bigger the journey, the bigger the emotional payoff, if it’s all done right. I love your books. I’m really looking forward to your new historicals that will be coming out soon!

  14. Jill Barnett says:

    I used to step in those tar balls as a kid. Oil wells were all over the coast of Southern California years back. I remember because it was so difficult to take off. To get it off, my dad used turpentine and my mom used nail polish remover.

    I have those same kind of past California memories in the settings of BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS, which is a little different than SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY and THE DAYS OF SUMMER. This story is very much in the now. I love the winter setting. Snow is special to me and I made it special to my characters. And one of the best stories in BRIDGE, I got from someone close to me who knew the Country & Western singer whose wife got even in that funny, funny way! (You ahve to read the book to find out.)

    Thanks for the wonderful welcome by my favorite authors, Kathy and Christie. Funny, too, about the ‘top down.’ My favorite car I ever owned was a red, 1959D Porsche Roadster I owned in the 70’s. We lived in SoCAL and it was real beach car. But while I was at work one day, dear Chris sold it. (I almost killed him. His best friend almost killed him. ) I told him he owed me another one someday. He was really in hot water. I loved that car. Luckily for him I loved him more. And my best friend had a TR3 and we drove it all over the place. I still rent a mustang over in Hawaii when I go there every few years. It reminds me how much my memories are tied to a bathing suit, a ponytail and topless car.

    This sure is fun! I think I like blogging!

    Jilly

  15. Quilt Lady says:

    I think a really good book will stay with you forever. I read Gone With the Wind in my teens and it was the book that got me started reading. I have never forgotten the story although I did read it several times.

  16. Jill Barnett says:

    I watch my favorite movies at least once a year, and my daughter and I had a ritual of gearing up (pjs and Ben & Jerrys) for a marathon watch of A & E’s Pride and the Prejudice every year. (Now she watches it with her husband, who loves it, too.) My favorites I watch every year are Under the Tuscan Sun, French Kiss, You’ve Got Mail, & Flesh and Blood (I know.. I know… It’s horrid. But it’s teeming with sexual tension and I love the antihero RH.) But my point is, do you reread your favorites? Like your GONE WITH THE WIND? My all-time favorite most memorable novel was LES MISERABLES, by Victor Hugo. I fell in love with that book when I was 14. It displaced my earlier fave, THE MISTRESS OF MELLYN, by Victoria Holt.

    (I adore Lois’ books too.)

    Jill B

  17. Pam Keener says:

    I read just recently on a blog that the reviewer smiled and held the book close when she finished the book. I have read a few books like that and I have loved every single one. My list includes Sarah’s Key, The Last Noel and more recently Brava Valentine.
    I love reading and ove books that touch me.
    Love & Hugs,
    Pam

  18. debradixon says:

    Jill !! OMG. He sold your car? I was laughing so hard, I had to instant message my hubby who is a car guy. He’d have killed Chris, too !!

  19. debradixon says:

    Pam Keener– Oh, yes! I’ve smiled, nodded my head and even sighed after a good book.

  20. Jill Barnett says:

    Tell hubby he sold it for $600, which is why his best friend wanted to kill him. I think readers’ love affairs with books are why some still want to hold books instead of eReaders. I have such a huge research library I had to move it to a storage facility when I downsized my home. I still have a gazillion books around here. But I adore my Kindle, a Christmas gift. For some reason I read even more on it. But I love thrillers on audio, and Harry Potter. I like them in teh car, on airplanes and in bed. It’s like having someone read you a bedtime story. So I’m kind of a all-media girl.

    Jill

  21. Stephenia says:

    Great books can linger for a long time – a really good story is what compells me to pick the same author again and again. Favorite movies are the same way – I have watched Pride and Prejudice too many times to count, I love the tension between the characters, all without a single sex scene! Under the Tuscan Sun is another – all about a woman getting what she wished for, but not in the way she imagined it and finding herself again (plus her hot guy shows up in the end!).

  22. Jill Barnett says:

    Well, a huge thank you to all the fabulous writers at TOP DOWN RIDERS. You are as gracious as you are talented. You made my first guest blog so much fun. I loved it!

    May you have a year filled with bestsellers and readers who can’t put your books down because they’re holding them so tightly to their chests. (Love that image.)

    All my best,

    Jill Barnett, BRIDGE TO HAPPINESS Jan 2011

  23. Julie DuChesne says:

    How long will a wonderful story stay with you?
    Always. It is always with you. And the oddest most insignificant thing can set off the memory of that story. Thereby changing your impression of your real life moment.

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