Debut novelist, Joanne Easley, visits the blog this week to chat about Sweet Jane, which releases this week. Welcome, Joanne!
Author Name: Joanne Kukanza Easley
Book Title: Sweet Jane
Book Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: March 19, 2020
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Please tell us a little bit about your book.
After a broken childhood, Jane runs away at sixteen right on time for the Summer of Love. Seventeen years later, her return for Mama’s funeral catapults her back to the events that made her the woman she is.
What sparked the idea for Sweet Jane?
The character of Jane came to me at a writing group at a café in Austin, Texas. The writing prompt—she didn’t get that far—conjured an image of a heartbroken teenage girl hitchhiking away from her troubled home. The mental picture was so vivid, I had to delve into her story.
How long did it take for you to write ? And what was the research like?
It took several years to finish SWEET JANE. Life events put my writing on hold at times. When I retired from nursing, I was able to complete the novel. I did research the settings in Texas and California and the time period 1957-1984.
What’s the hardest thing about writing? What do you love about it?
The writing itself isn’t hard for me. Right now, with the upcoming release of my novel, all my time is devoted to promotion, and I’m itching to get back to the creative process.
I love when my main character comes to life and I feel I know her.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Sweet Jane?
My novel is ultimately about self-acceptance. Any reader who has struggled with unresolved childhood trauma will identify with Jane.
Has your career influenced your writing at all?
I draw on my knowledge and experience as a psychiatric nurse for perspective on the psychology of my characters.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
My dogs. I have three little rescue terriers. We enjoy walking around our small ranch with its abundance of wildlife. I’m also a dedicated swimmer, a mile-and-a-quarter three times a week.
Are you working on a new project?
Yes, I finished another novel while waiting for a contract. JUST ONE LOOK is set in my native Chicago and tells the story of a girl who fell in love at thirteen. I also have started researching another novel, LAUREN EATON, based on a character in SWEET JANE. Jane’s AA sponsor never did tell Jane her story as promised, so it’s up to me.
Where can readers find you?
You can find my upcoming author events on my Facebook page. I’m located near San Antonio, Texas.
Thank you, Joanne! Sweet Jane launches on March 19th!
A drunken mother makes childhood ugly. Jane runs away at sixteen, determined to leave her fraught upbringing in the rearview. Vowing never to return, she hitchhikes to California, right on time for the Summer of Love. Seventeen years later, she looks good on paper: married, grad school, sober, but her carefully constructed life is crumbling. When Mama dies, Jane returns for the funeral, leaving her husband in the dark about her history. Seeing her childhood home and significant people from her youth catapults Jane back to the events that made her the woman she is. She faces down her past and the ghosts that shaped her family. A stunning discovery helps Jane see her problems through a new lens.
Joanne Kukanza Easley, born in Chicago, Illinois, has adopted Texas as her home. She lives in the Texas Hill Country on a small ranch with her husband, three rescue terriers, and abundant wildlife. Retired from a career in nursing—with dual specialties in the cold, clinical operating room, and the intense, emotional world of psychiatric nursing, she devotes her time to writing fiction. Her novel SWEET JANE was a 2019 Faulkner/Wisdom Writing Competition Finalist.