Q&A With Jacqueline Friedland
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Q&A With Jacqueline Friedland
Jacqueline Friedland is the bestselling author of Trouble the Water, That’s Not a Thing, He Gets That From Me, & The Stockwell Letters. It’s always so exciting when an author gets back to me and agrees to do Q&A’s with me.
Q: Jackie I read online that you went to law school and became an attorney before you became an author. What made you want to transition from being a lawyer to being an author?
A: The truth is that I never wanted to be a lawyer. I went to law school after college because I didn’t know what else to do with myself. Having majored in English, Law seemed like a practical and responsible next step. With some guidance from faculty advisors and my parents, I reached the conclusion that law school would be great simply because it would further my education, and it didn’t mean I necessarily had to practice law after graduating. Somehow once I entered the halls of my law school, it was very easy to jump in the water and get swept away by the current. Before I knew it, I was an associate in a big NYC law firm wondering how on earth I’d ended up there. To compensate for my lack of career satisfaction, I read voraciously on evenings and weekends, and I discovered authors I’d never before read—Jennifer Weiner, Emily Giffin, Jodi Picoult. I was so inspired by their writing, thinking maybe I could write in a similar style. I started using my (very limited) free time to outline and draft a novel. Once I started, I was hooked. After I finished a first draft, I left my law job and went back to school for my MFA in Creative Writing. I was able to polish up that first book and eventually get it published, and I’ve not looked back since!
Q: What do you love most about being an author?
A: This is a hard question because I love so many aspects of being an author. I suppose that most of all, I love the research. Like love, love, love it. I didn’t know I would be so into the investigative part of the process. Initially, I thought the research was just a means to an end so that I could write my stories, but I discovered that the process of uncovering background information relevant to your characters’ lives is so much more than busywork. I can spend hours, days, weeks, researching a topic, and I do not get bored. At some point, I have to cut myself off, otherwise, I go down these rabbit holes where I start researching things that have nothing to do with the book I’m writing. For example, when I was writing HE GETS THAT FROM ME and researching fertility treatments, I somehow stumbled onto information about how perfume was made in Victorian England. Totally and completely unrelated to the book I was writing, but also kind of fascinating. I also love when I manage to locate a source that I didn’t know existed, or when I can connect two seemingly unrelated events based on documents I find. Apparently, I’m a big nerd because for me, there is no joy like researching a new-to-me topic.
Q: Is it fair to say that any of the characters and places you created in your novels is based off of people you know and places you’ve been? I always love how authors can create people and places getting inspiration from people they know and places they’ve been.
A: None of my characters are based on actual people. I might give them small characteristics of people I’ve known, like the same favorite song from an esoteric 80s rock band, or an aversion to the same ice cream flavor that my high school friend always hated, but the characters themselves are, to me, truly unique individuals that I dream into being. As for getting inspiration from places, I do almost the reverse of what you’ve described. I often set parts of a book in places that I would like to go visit (Yay! More research!). The two locations that come immediately to mind are Charleston, South Carolina, which is the setting for my first book, TROUBLE THE WATER, and various towns in Arizona, which appear in HE GETS THAT FROM ME.
Q: If you were to choose a favorite novel you’ve written which one would it be and why?
A: This is like asking me to pick my favorite child! I love them all equally, but I will say that the most fun one to write was THAT’S NOT A THING. It takes place in New York City, and the protagonist is a young attorney who hates her job (wonder where that idea came from). She reconnects with her first great love only after she’s finally gotten her life back on track after their catastrophic breakup years earlier. In some ways, the book is a bit of a love letter to New York City. It was also a lot of fun for me to get to poke fun at the experience of young lawyers. It is perhaps my most pop-culture-heavy book, and I really did enjoy getting that one down on paper.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: Not yet, but if you know anyone looking to buy rights, send them my way. I think HE GETS THAT FROM ME would make such a good Netflix series. Tell your friends!!
Q: What advice do you give to new authors dealing with negative feedback whether its negative reviews, online trolls and friends and family members who aren’t supportive?
A: Being good at anything is hard. It’s that simple. There will always be the haters. The trick is to just keep going until the number of positive comments outweigh the negative. If you don’t give up, it will happen!
Q: What advice would you give to someone on how to write excellent fiction? How do you deal with writers block and what advice would you give to anyone who does?
A: The best advice I have for any writer is to WRITE. As frequently as you possibly can. Even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. If you don’t carve out the time, it won’t happen. Just like anything else, the more you practice, the better you get. So, get in that chair, fingers on the keyboard, and get to work.
Q: If you’re writing a new novel now, can you reveal any details?
A: I’m working on a new project right now that is a dual timeline story taking place in present day New York/New Jersey and 1920s Virginia. That’s all I can say for now, but I am very excited about it and hope you will be too!