Jennie Goutet is an American-born Anglophile who lives with her French husband and their three children in a small town outside of Paris. Her imagination resides in Regency England, where her best-selling proper Regency romances are set. She is also author of the award-winning memoir Stars Upside Down, two contemporary romances, and a smattering of other published works. A Christian, a cook, and an inveterate klutz, Jennie sometimes writes about faith, food, and life—even the clumsy moments—on her blog, aladyinfrance.com. You can learn more about Jennie and her books, and sign up for her newsletter, on her author website: jenniegoutet.com. Oh! Did I mention that she’s funny?
Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.
JG. My main writing spots are the desk in my bedroom, my living room couch, or my bed if it’s one of those kinds of days. Work happens amidst the shouts of my boys as they wrestle or is sometimes interrupted by my daughter to tell of her character development. (She’s studying to be an illustrator / storyteller). My husband turned the outside studio into an office for me, but he ended up using it. I find I like to be where the action is, and someone needs to stir the soup for dinner.
Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)
JG. Very often, for new content / first drafts, I record the story then translate it into text and rework it afterwards. In this case, my ritual is to pace back and forth trying to gear up enough courage to speak the story. I’m never in the mood. First drafts are my nemesis. However, later drafts and edits are done with music through my sound-canceling headphones. And if I’m lucky, it’s with a cup of coffee and gluten-free cake at my elbow. (But not too close to my elbow. Cue the panic: have I emailed the latest draft to myself in case I lose everything?)
Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?
JG. I’ve lived in four continents. In Asia, it was in Taiwan, and I used to speak Mandarin pretty fluently. I now live outside of Paris and have French citizenship through marriage. My husband and I spent a year in East Africa as newlyweds on a humanitarian mission. And the other continent, of course, is North America where I grew up. I’m from Upstate New York. My dad was a symphony musician before retiring, so we went to the symphony a lot, and I think that’s pretty interesting.
Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?
JG. As I said, I use a recorder for first drafts. Other than that, I have colored notebooks for each book to note details that are important to the story. But mainly I use my computer. Writing longhand seems like a colossal waste of time to me, although I know it’s an important step for some writers. But I’m a Type-A, ‘get-er-done’ type of person, so I generally just dive right in.
Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?
JG. My preference is always to write in the morning. That way it’s done and I can feel accomplished and free the rest of the day. But writing competes for the morning slot with quiet times (I like to start my day with reading the Bible and praying), working out, grocery shopping, organizing my paper clip collection … basically anything that distracts me until the deadline is looming too near and I have no choice but to get to work.
Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?
JG. Um. Given my answer above, I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer that question. But, all right, I’ll give it a stab. Although I know a few authors whose story ideas flow fast and furious so that their fingers can’t keep up, for many authors it’s just work. You show up and you get your word count in, whether or not you feel like it. Eventually something will tug at your heart and you’ll be glad you’re telling that particular story. And you can always make it all shiny later on in the subsequent drafts. You just have to get the first draft out before you can get anywhere.
Q. What does it feel like to be an American writer, living in France, writing in an English, historic romance genre. (Special challenges? Funny stories?)
Join us next week for Part II of this entertaining Interview!
My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with best-selling AUTHORS! October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monahan, November: Susanne O’Leary, December: Mimi Mathews, February: Jennie Goutet
To receive my weekly posts sign up for my
On the home page, enter your email address. Thanks!
BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK