Jenn Bouchard joins the Spotlight this week to chat about her debut novel, First Course
Author Name: Jenn Bouchard
Book Title: First Course
Book Genre: Women’s Fiction
Release Date: June 21, 2021
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Welcome, Jenn! And congrats on your debut. Please tells us about First Course.
Janie lost almost everything, but to hang on to what’s left, she’s back in coastal Maine at her family’s summer house. Through cooking amazing creations and taking a chance on love, she discovers her new role within her family and finds her life’s second act.
How long did it take for you to write the book? Did you have to do any research?
It took me 2 ½ years just to write the first draft! I spent a good amount of time in coastal Maine during that time, taking notes and pictures in several locations. One time we actually drove from Portland, Maine to Camden, Maine, driving most of the route that Janie and Rocky take when he brings her to Amville on the first full day they spend together. My husband was driving and I took notes of every bridge we crossed (there are lots!) and all the major sites along the way. I visited Peaks Island during that stretch of time as well, and I knew I had to include it (I won’t give away any more than that!).
What drew you to contemporary women’s fiction?
It’s my favorite genre to read. I love the escape it provides and the relatable characters.
What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?
There is so much to learn! I have really enjoyed connecting with other writers and being a part of their writing process and publishing experience. The WFWA (Women’s Fiction Writers Association), 2021 Debuts group, and Grub Street here in Boston have been such a supportive part of this journey for me. I am so grateful for their support.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I cook a lot, which is reflected in everything I write. While I’m cooking, I like to think of what my characters would enjoy cooking and eating. I also have a 14-year-old and a 10-year-old who play competitive sports and love to eat. I’m busy supporting them on the sidelines while also keeping them well-fed. I enjoy traveling and can’t wait to really start going places again. Trying new Boston-area restaurants is a ton of fun, and I love going to coastal areas to explore. Additionally, I am a devoted Red Sox fan. Fenway Park is one of my favorite places to be.
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
I am going to start drafting a new novel this summer, tentatively titled SHELL GAME. It’s set on Cape Cod near my favorite beach in the world, Mayflower Beach in Dennis. The main character Rachel is approaching forty and owns a restaurant. A group of people show up one day to eat and drink, and ultimately everything changes due to their presence in her life. I’ll leave it at that for now, but there’s a “When Harry Met Sally” component to this book that I am so excited about. I’m a huge fan of Nora Ephron–HEARTBURN was a big influence on FIRST COURSE–and I’ve watched Harry and Sally probably over a thousand times.
How are you adjusting to promoting your book during a pandemic?
I think it’s remarkable how booksellers and writers have adjusted through virtual events and webinars. My launch is virtual, but the cool thing is that I was able to invite so many people from across the country who never could have attended an in-person event in the Boston area. I do have an in-person book event scheduled for later this summer at a shop, and hopefully more of those things will be possible soon.
Where can readers find you?
I have many events coming up that are listed on my website jennbouchard.com; I am adding to it almost daily now. I am excited to be a part of the Fall for the Book festival this October. Please connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @JennBouchardBOS, and Goodreads @jennbouchard.
Thank you, Jenn! First Course is out NOW.
Second acts can be delicious.
When four life-altering catastrophes hit in just one day—including the loss of her parents in a tragic plane crash—twenty-four-year-old Janie Whitman retreats to her family’s summer house in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Here she tries to provide stability for her older sister Alyssa and two young nieces by cooking them amazing food.
Through a mix-up with the alumni office at her parents’ alma mater, Janie meets a young high school guidance counselor named Rocky at a volunteer event, and their fast-tracked romance helps Janie to see possibilities beyond the life she had known just a few weeks prior. But with her ex-boyfriend (and former boss) making overtures beyond her wildest dreams, as well as Alyssa’s estranged husband willing to do whatever it takes to win her back, the Whitman sisters are faced with big decisions.
Despite the obstacles in their way, when Janie and Alyssa are tasked with establishing a lasting memorial for their parents, they just might find the second acts they are seeking.
Jenn Bouchard’s debut novel First Course was published by TouchPoint Press in June 2021. Her short stories have appeared in The Bookends Review, Litbreak Magazine, The Penmen Review, and the Little Patuxent Review. A graduate of Bates College and Tufts University, she has been a high school social studies teacher for twenty-one years. An avid cook and devoted Red Sox fan, she lives in the Boston suburbs with her husband and two children.