Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what’s coming up.
I recently published my debut novel entitled “Between Boyfriends.” It’s a chick-lit story about one of those girls who simply cannot be single. She is always dating someone and changing herself for every guy she is with. In the beginning of the story Jan gets dumped over the phone by a guy she thinks is “the One.” Soon afterward her mother finds out that Jan dropped out of college in favor of massage therapy school. She is so furious both at Jan’s decision and at being lied to that she cuts her daughter off financially and takes back her American Express card. Jan has never worked a job or paid a bill in her life. She doesn’t even know how much her rent is because all her bills get sent to her parents. With her world turned upside down, Jan wonders what does she miss more: her ex or her AmEx?
How did you become inspired to write this work?
I knew a lot of Jans in high school and college. I had friends who would blow me off to go hang out with their boyfriends and then would be inconsolable when the jerks they picked treated them terribly. All women have a friend like Jan. I never completely understood what motivated that extreme behavior. I wanted to shake my friends and yell, “STOP. Just stop dating for five minutes and figure your life out.” Since that probably would not have gone over well I decided instead to write a novel from the perspective of one of “those girls,” a story in which the girl realizes what she is doing and takes steps to figure out what truly makes her happy instead of thinking some new guy is the answer.
Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?
I write chick lit and fantasy. I could not tell you why I love those rather different genres. I adore chick lit because it is light and fun. It makes me laugh and it’s easy to relate to. As I writer, I appreciate the opportunity to introduce some heavy subject matter within a fun, humorous context. I do not particularly enjoy books that bum me out, but I do like books that make me think or teach me something about human nature. Fantasy, oddly enough, is another great genre for commenting on society or teaching life lessons in an indirect way. Fantasy allows a writer to make thoughtful and entertaining parallels to the real world without turning people off with a bit too much honesty. Plus I have quite a vivid imagination and if I don’t use that for my writing I suspect I may instead go a tad bit crazy.
Are you published primarily in print or eBook, or both equally? Which format do you prefer and why?
“Between Boyfriends” is only an eBook at the moment, but I recently found an affordable means to release a print version in the near future. I promised myself never to do a large run unless it was on recycled paper because I am a recycling nut. I love eBooks because they save trees and they are so much more convenient. I used to be a diehard print book fan who thought I would never get into eBooks. I loved everything about holding a real book in my hands. That all changed when I got my first e-reader and realized I could take my entire library traveling with me instead of only a couple of books. What I really love are audio books. I’m working on one of those for “Between Boyfriends” as well.
Do you own an e-reader, or maybe two? How do you like it?
I have a Sony Pocket e-reader. It was a gift from my dad and my boyfriend, though neither intended it to work out that way. I absolutely love it. I literally can fit it in my back pocket of my jeans, though I usually carry it in my laptop bag. I stare at a screen all day either writing my books or writing health articles so I originally thought I would hate staring at an e-reader screen. That was before I realized that the e-ink screens are exactly like print books and do not hurt your eyes at all.
What do you have planned writing wise for the rest of the year?
I am working on the sequel to “Between Boyfriends.” Jan goes to Thailand to study abroad and learn how to do Thai massage, which is one of my favorite modalities. I was a massage therapist, briefly, and my favorite type of massage to give was Thai massage. I have been to Thailand twice now, for a month each time, to do “research.” I visited the Wat Po temple in Bangkok, which is the home of Thai massage. They teach classes there. It’s a beautiful temple.
In addition to writing the sequel, I am working on a stand-alone chick-lit novel that is split between San Francisco and Paris. I go to San Francisco quite frequently to stay with friends and was inspired to write a book while there. It was the perfect excuse to finally go to Paris as well, which I did for one week. I must go back though: more “research.”
Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?
Bien sur (of course). I have a Facebook author page where I post all my updates on my work, interviews, character interviews, cover ideas and my health articles. I also like to share interesting articles about publishing and other authors I like. I have a blog onGoodreads and Word Press. I also have two Twitter accounts that I tweet from daily:@sarkajonae and @boyfriendsnovel.
Who are your favorite authors in your primary genre?
Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham, Lauren Weisberger, Risa Green, Candace Bushnell, Marian Keys, and Helen Fielding. I have also recently become acquainted with the works of Juliette Sobanet, Lucie Simone, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, and Nancy Scrofano. I recommend other people do so as well.
Do you have a favorite charity? How does it appeal to you?
Farm Sanctuary is my favorite charity, though Soi Dogs, PETA, World Vision and the Humane Society are close seconds. Farm Sanctuary helps abused and abandoned farm animals. They have a farm in California and one in New York where they take care of animals. I am a huge animal lover. I’ve been vegan since 1999 and was a vegetarian for a year before that. Factory farming practices in the US are disgusting and I fully support charities and companies that do all they can to lessen the suffering of farm animals. I’m vegan not because I think drinking milk or eating eggs is a crime; I am vegan because I believe hacking off beaks of chickens without painkillers and forcing them to live in tiny, filthy cages where their nails grow so long they cannot even walk and the space is so packed they cannot extend their wings is criminal. And that’s just the chickens. That does not even account for what the hormones and conditions do to the product and how gross that is for people to consume. I’m all for eating dairy if you treat the animals kindly and create a product free from pus, blood, antibiotics and other nasty stuff that makes people sick. Just saying. I am a health nut too and I want people to have healthy food free of pesticides, drugs and other “additives” that make them sick. Of course I also want to see people fed, especially children, so I support World Vision and other charities that provide food and healthcare to impoverished people.
Jan Weston is boy crazy, emphasis on crazy. But when “The One” breaks her heart, Jan vows to change. She quits dating, starts exercising and tries to be a better friend.
Her progress is derailed when her mother finds out that she dropped out of San Diego State University to attend massage therapy school. Furious at being lied to, Mrs. Weston cuts Jan off. Now Jan is without a guy, her American Express card and a way to pay for school. She has to do something so despicable, so vile, so cruel, she almost cannot imagine it: Jan has to find a job. With the support of her real friends and the hottie from her massage class Jan is able to survive, barely. But can she really change, or is she temporarily between boyfriends?