More from Jen
Thank you so much for visiting me on my Celebrate Lit tour as we celebrate the release of my latest novel, “Storing Up Trouble.” I’m delighted to be here, and I reached out to my street team to help me with the questions you’ll find below. I’m hoping the answers to those questions will allow you to learn just a bit about my new book, as well as allow you to get to know me better. With that said, here we go!
Can you tell us a little about “Storing Up Trouble?”
I’d be delighted to tell you about my latest book. “Storing Up Trouble” is the third book in the “American Heiress” series, but you don’t need to read the first two books in that series (“Flights of Fancy” “Diamond in the Rough” to understand what’s going on. I’ve been writing my books more as stand alone stories, and “Storing Up Trouble” is no exception to that. With that said, this book centers around Miss Beatrix Waterbury and Mr. Norman Nesbit. Beatrix, unfortunately, has annoyed her mother to such an extent that she finds herself banished from New York and on her way to Chicago to spend time with her aunt, a lady Beatrix remembers as being a querulous sort. She, being Beatrix, a lady who lands herself in trouble at the most unexpected of times, soon finds herself a victim of a train heist. An unlikely hero in the form of Mr. Norman Nesbit, a gentleman with a brilliant mind but relatively few social graces, comes to her rescue, and from the moment they disembark from the train, they find themselves thrust into one escapade after another.
In “Storing Up Trouble,” is there a character you’d like to be friends with in real life, or better yet, a character you’d avoid at all costs?
I actually have an answer to both parts of that question. Miss Theodosia Robinson is a lady I would love to count as a friend because she’s loyal to a fault, and is a friend who’ll be there for you, no matter if you want to delve into an unusual scientific experiment, or take a jaunt to your local department store to do a bit of shopping. As for who I’d avoid at all cost – Mrs. George Blossom, who has a very small part in the story, but she’s a customer at Marshal Fields & Company who embraces an air of superiority over the sales girls, and I’ve never been one to enjoy people like that.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
That’s easy. Being Dominic’s mom. He was definitely a handful when he was little, which is why he’s an only child, but it’s been incredibly rewarding to watch him grow over the years. He recently graduated from college with a degree in engineering, and seeing him land a grown up job and begin to embrace the whole adulting thing makes me prouder than any book I’ve written or other job I’ve held.
What was the inspiration behind “Storing Up Trouble?”
There were quite a few things that inspired me to write this book. I’d set another one of my books, “Caught by Surprise” in Chicago, and because of the research I did for that book, research I wasn’t able to fit into that story, I knew I wanted to revisit that city at some point. Beatrix Waterbury gave me the perfect excuse to travel back there. I wanted to take her out of her usual setting of NYC, so off she went to Chicago, on a train ride that definitely turned concerning. I had also picked up a few research books about Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison and I’ve been itching to create a character after those brilliant gentlemen. Norman Nesbit turned into that gentleman, although I have to admit that some of the science Nikola and Thomas used was way over my head. My son, the engineer, tried to explain it to me, but I believe at one point I might have been drooling, and not in the good way, but the bored way. That’s when Norman really began to develop because I thought it would be amusing to have a character who was passionate about his field of study, but most of the people he tried to share that passion with had no idea what he was talking about and always got a bit of a dazed expression in their eyes as he waxed on and on about double-electrical currents.
What fun facts did you uncover while doing research for “Storing Up Trouble” but weren’t able to fit into the story?
There was so much fodder for additional storylines just with the research I did on Marshal Field and his department store. Did you know that the main store in Chicago burned down doing the Great Fire of 1871 and…it burned down several times after that? Who knew? There was also a lot of drama surrounding Marshal and his partner for years, Mr. Levi Zeigler Leiter. They had different ideas about how the store should evolve, which resulted in Marshal forcing Levi to sell his shares of the company to him, at which point the store turned from Field, Leiter, & Company to Marshal Fields Company. It was also interesting to learn that Mr. Fields was notorious for paying his workers low wages, but those workers accepted those wages because of the prestige that came with working at his store. If you worked at any other store, you were considered common, but to work at Marshal Fields was a feather in your cap, even if you weren’t earning as much as you could have earned at another store.
What are quirky little things you keep on your desk?
At the moment, I have one little pig with googly eyes, one cow with googly eyes, and then another small pig that a reader sent me because she really liked Matilda in “A Match of Wits” and thought this little pig she found at a store was exactly what Matilda would look like.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Oddly enough, no, it never crossed my mind until Dominic was in third grade and we decided to write a book together after finishing this horrible series about this bird. That book was never meant for publication, but it did have me remembering that I had, at one point in time before I became a stay-at-home-mom, enjoyed using my brain. I started experimenting with different genres and learned everything I could about the publishing industry. It took me five years to find an agent, and then she sold “A Change of Fortune” to Bethany House, and I’ve been writing for them ever since.
Any words of advice for aspiring writers?
I get this question a lot, and I always answer by saying “Have an honest talk with yourself about what you really want to achieve with your writing.” It’s perfectly fine to want to write because you’re interested in turning it into a career. However, with that said, a writer needs to understand that writing and publishing are two different creatures. Publishing is a daunting business, and it’ll take a lot of perseverance to find success with it. With that said, if you have raw talent and are a story teller at heart, you should write all the time and do whatever you can to learn how to improve your craft.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a new series right now – “The Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency.” The first book, “To Steal a Heart” releases in November, 2020. It’s about Miss Gabriella Goodhue, who spent her childhood living on the mean streets in Five Points. She’s currently living in a boarding house on Bleeker Street in New York City, and when a fellow resident gets unjustly accused of theft, Gabriella, along with the other ladies living in the boarding house, take it upon themselves to try and clear her name. That’s the beginning of the Bleeker Street Agency, and hopefully the ladies will enjoy much success as the series continues.
Thank you so much for stopping by today. I hope all of you get an opportunity to read “Storing Up Trouble!”
Wishing you all the best,