Good Morning Everyone and happy Friday
Welcome to Inside A Beautiful Mind.
For those of you who have been here before, go grab your coffee, tea or beverage of choice and come sit with me as we get comfy and have a chat with the amazing Jeanne Blasberg.
Good Morning Jeanne, thank you for hanging out with me this morning and being a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind.
So now let’s get to it and tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I’ve been a writer all my life although EDEN is my debut novel. After graduating from Smith College in 1987, I surprised everyone who knew me by accepting a job on Wall Street and embarking on a career in finance. I’m a firm believer that you are never too old to change course and began studying the art of memoir and the craft of the novel at Grub Street, a wonderful creative writing center in Boston. I am an avid squash player and skier and my husband of 27 years and our grown children all enjoy playing and being active. We split our time between Boston, MA and Westerly, RI.
Can you tell us about your books?
A sweeping family saga, Eden chronicles four generations of Meister Fitzpatrick women from 1915 to 2000. The book centers on an extraordinary family home aptly named after the Biblical paradise. As the novel opens, the family matriarch, Becca, is faced with the loss of this beloved home due to her late husband’s financial missteps. She is also planning to disclose a long-held secret to her extended family over a Fourth of July weekend. Fireworks result from both as family love and loyalties are tested and resentments emerge.
Eden is both a marvelous page turner and a fascinating look at the changing roles and choices available to women throughout the 20th century—and how these choices, or lack of choice, reverberate through generations. Redbook states, “This beautifully written family saga firmly establishes Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg as a rising writer to watch – and it will likely have you liking your family a whole lot more.”
What inspired you to write your first book?
I guess you can say the core of this story has been inside me all my life. I am the product of a hasty marriage when my mother got pregnant in college. Later, I met someone who talked openly about his feelings around being adopted. That meeting sparked a lot of “what if’s” for me. What if my mother had chosen not to have me? What if she gave me up? I dwelt on these issues during my early writing life where I wrote personal narrative and memoir.
But being an avid reader, I was driven to emulate the kinds of books I like to read: family sagas, works of fiction, especially those that span big time periods. I like multiple points of view and multiple chronologies. My thought was, if I only write one book in my life, why not write a big one?
Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Yes there are many anecdotes in the book that are from real life experiences (see above). Several of my matriachs are characters inspired by women in my family.
What was your favorite parts to write and why?
I love to write setting. My scenes are cinematic and the sense of place in EDEN is very poignant. EDEN is a quintessential, New England, shingle-style beach home where four generations summered together over the span of eighty years. After reading my novel, you’ll have picked out your favorite bedroom and may feel you’ve spent every summer of your life there as well.
How did you come up with the titles?
My original title was “A Garden”, then “Her Father’s Garden”. It was my publisher who convinced me to go with the very profound title : “EDEN.”
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The best compliment is that my book is a page turner. I do not view criticism as tough or as negative. It is all important feedback as I am developing as a writer.
Do you have any unique or quirky writing habits?
The thing about quirky people is that they don’t realize when they are being quirky J
What’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
Hmmm…. I researched a lot about train travel in the early part of the 20th C, the velveteen of the seats the names of the linens – that’s not very strange, though!
Give us an interesting fun fact about your book.
Everything in my book is fictional, however the setting is based on the town where I live in Rhode Island. The large stone home where the residents of Long Harbor weather the 1938 hurricane is actually my father’s home and all of the events that took place there are based on oral histories. The large Italianate villa is named Sunset Hill and the original owner was indeed, Mary Thaw Thompson.
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
For my first draft I just write and write and then at some point later on, I need to organize everything and I create an outline.
Can you tell us about your experiences in getting your first book published?
It was a long, drawn out, difficult process. The book was re-written and revised many time after a long series of rejections from agents. I worked very hard on learning the craft of the novel and improving my book. I thought about giving up on several occasions. I finally found an agent at a writing conference called the Muse and the Marketplace in Boston. We really hit it off and had a great discussion about my goals as an author. April Eberhardt, my agent, helped me sift through the different publishing options and I ended up publishing my book with She Writes Press which is an independent, hybrid model in Berkeley, CA.
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing in 2008 and finished in 2015. Yikes!!
How did you choose the genre you write in?
I love reading fiction, historical fiction most specifically. I wanted to emulate the type of books I am a fan of reading.
Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas and characters are based on my life experiences and then I extrapolate from there!
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way
The Big House by George Howe Colt was an enormous influence to me in the way that the house was a character in his work of non-fiction. I try to achieve the same thing in EDEN. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible was written in multiple points of view and reading that made we want to attempt the same thing. I was influenced by John Steinbeck’s East of Eden in terms of creating a biblical allegory.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
It is really easy to get discouraged. Don’t let other people get you down, and don’t give up. Make a regular practice of writing and stick with it. Your writing will improve, just put in the hours and read as much as you can!
What is your favorite quote or saying?
It is a little corny, but my niece reminded me of this favorite recently: “The past is history, the future is a mystery, but the present is a gift, that’s why it’s called a present.”
Tea or coffee? Mint Tea!!
Sweet or salty? Salty!
Would you like to share with us a passage that will give us a glimpse into the world you built?
Even though Becca could be accustomed to life without her husband, a life without Eden was an entirely different story. Even during the winter, the sheer notion of this place had buoyed her as much as the physical house did during the summer. Eden transcended time as the receptacle of the family’s legends and most vivid memories. She associated Eden with love and tradition, a link between the generations, and it made her sad to think that Sarah’s baby would miss the opportunity to run through its cool grass.
Would you mind sharing with us the best way to stay in touch with you and where to learn more about your books?
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jeanneblasbergauthor/
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15746550.Jeanne_McWilliams_Blasberg
Alright folks, it is that time again but I would like to say a heart felt thank you to Jeanne for sharing with us and spending some time in her world today. Also, I would like to say a big thank you to the lovely readers out there for joining in and taking a moment to support your Authors.
If you or any of you know of someone who would like to be a part of Inside A Beautiful Mind, please send me a message or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your Friday folks, you are awesome and please remember to be kind to your Authors, leave a review. See you in a couple of weeks, Peace.