Jeanne Blasberg strolled on over just in time for tea. What a sweet author! Settle in and take a look at the gift she brought for me!
Love having you over to visit. I brewed coffee and several flavors of tea. Which do you prefer?
I would love some mint tea – my favorite especially in the summertime when I just steep leaves from my herb garden in hot water.
I’m so honored you stopped by to talk about your book, Eden. A synopsis is below, as well as a link for our readers to get their own copy. Before we begin, is that a gift for me?
I brought you an adorable black lab puppy! I know he’s full of energy and not quite housebroken – but think of the companionship he’ll provide. Imagine long walks on the beach with him at your side. And I’m happy to dog sit anytime!
I love him! Now I need a name! (Readers, comment below and help me decide on a name!) So tell me, Jeanne, (please help yourself to one of these freshly baked scones) if you could only use one sentence to introduce us to your main character, what would it be?
Becca Fitzpatrick is the apprehensive matriarch of a well-heeled family who is about to blow the lid off of everything.
Well that sounds like a fun time! Who can resist such trouble? What is the most amusing phrase or behavior of your main character?
When Becca is a little girl, she survives the Great Hurricane of 1938 and is concerned afterward about the families of bunnies that had lived on their property. Not that this is terribly amusing, Becca actually has quite a challenging go of it.
Which of Aristotle’s six elements did you find easiest: Plot, character, thought/theme, melody/rhythm, language/diction, spectacle/setting.
Setting all the way. 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.
Who is your favorite playwright and why?
I would have to say Wendy Wasserstein is my favorite playwright. The Heidi Chronicles premiered in New York when I was living there, right out of college, forging out on my own and it made a big impression on me. Her cutting humor, intelligence, and feminist sensibilities were eye opening for me in 1989. Even after attending Smith College, it was powerful to see such a great work by a contemporary female playwright. It was a really big deal.
What is one aspect where you are different from your main character? How are you two the same?
Becca and I are similar in that we both are striving for peace in the family (in my case, the price of being a Libra) We both value a sense of tradition and have spent countless hours volunteering in our communities – because we feel it is what was expected of us. And we’ve both embraced change later in life – letting go certain expectations.
We differ in that Becca never leaves the house unless her hair, make-up, and clothes are pristine, even in the summer, even in the middle of a heat wave!! He clothes are always pressed and her shoes match her purse. It’s not that I’m unkempt, but I am a little more casual and bohemian in my dress.
How did you handle the various points of view in your story: keeping them separate, clear to the reader, etc.
My book is written in the close third person, which allowed me take on each POV character’s essence without trying for a unique first person voice for each. I think that made it easier. In addition my point of view characters hail from different generations – their differing ages and vernacular of the day made it easy to keep them separate.
Do you have a specific writing strategy that you could share with other writers?
I am pretty disciplined about writing every morning – that is the time of day when I have the most energy, my mind is quiet, and I am creative. I sit down at my desk after the typical morning routine in which I include about fifteen minutes of meditation and another fifteen minutes of writing long hand in a journal.
What is the most unusual item sitting on your desk this very minute?
I have a little brass figurine of the laughing Buddha on my desk right next to my computer. Whenever I take myself too seriously, he’s right there laughing at my earthly concerns.
Anything else you’d like to share about your book, the characters, setting, theme?
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?
I’m so happy you visited. Please take the rest of these scones with you!
Whoops, looks like the puppy likes scones too!
Well he has good taste! I’ll be sure to let you know the puppy’s name. Stop by anytime to see him! And thank you for visiting and sharing the great news about your new book!
Becca Meister Fitzpatrick—wife, mother, grandmother, and pillar of the community—is the dutiful steward of her family’s iconic summer tradition . . . until she discovers her recently deceased husband squandered their nest egg. As she struggles to accept that this is likely her last season in Long Harbor, Becca is inspired by her granddaughter’s boldness in the face of impending single-motherhood, and summons the courage to reveal a secret she was forced to bury long ago: the existence of a daughter she gave up fifty years ago. The question now is how her other daughter, Rachel—with whom Becca has always had a strained relationship—will react.
Eden is the account of the days leading up to the Fourth of July weekend, as Becca prepares to disclose her secret and her son and brothers conspire to put the estate on the market, interwoven with the century-old history of Becca’s family—her parents’ beginnings and ascent into affluence, and her mother’s own secret struggles in the grand home her father named “Eden.”
Jeanne Blasberg is a voracious observer of human nature and has kept a journal since childhood. After graduating from Smith College, she surprised everyone who knew her by embarking on a career in finance, making stops on Wall Street, Macy’s and Harvard Business School, where she wrote case studies and business articles.
A firm believer that you are never too old to change course, Jeanne enrolled at Grub Street, one of the country’s preeminent creative writing centers, where she turned her attention to memoir and later fiction. Eden is her debut novel. Jeanne and her husband split their time between Boston and Westerly, RI. When not writing, she can be found playing squash, skiing, or taking in the sunset over Little Narragansett Bay.
Please leave a comment below, ask Jeanne a question, or come up with a cute puppy name for the new lab!