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  • Jenna Blum and Jane Green Chat About Research, Social Media and Handwritten Outlines
This blog was featured on 06/16/2018
Jenna Blum and Jane Green Chat About Research, Social Media and Handwritten Outlines
Written by
She Writes
June 2018
Written by
She Writes
June 2018

There was some amazing author overload in a recent interview between New York Times bestsellers Jane Green and Jenna Blum. The two sat down to talk about Jenna’s new release, The Lost Family, and what blossomed between them during this conversation was a gold mine for writers.

There were some real gems as these globally successful authors chatted about the research process, marketing books and writing with good old fashion pen and paper.

On Research

Jane Green: What did you do for your research?

Jenna Blum: The 80s I knew, I grew up in the 80’s. [...]That didn’t require as much research. For Peter’s section, set in ’65, I spent an entire summer reading cookbooks, since Peter was a chef, and creating the menu for his restaurant, and baking, and cooking all the items for his restaurant. And I had, in my study, at the time, image boards for 1965. So I had downloaded all these images from the Internet and wallpapered my whole study with: What were people wearing? What were the news events of the decade? What did they eat? What were the advertisements? So I basically had this fantastic wallpaper that I was surrounded by every time I sat down to write.

I also had a Spotify playlist that is particular [to each character].

My parents met in New York like the Peter and June characters in The Lost Family so I drew on a lot of family myth and legend and infused that into the novel.

On the Changing Landscape for Authors

Jane Green: Writing has changed for writers in the last 15 years. I have been writing for 23 years and when I first started, when I wrote my first book, my only job was to write books and I had time to live life. And we talked about this last night, that I very much believe that along with writing you have to live enough of a life to give you something to write about. Whereas now my day is jammed between writing and Instagramming and Tweeting and blogging and writing guest blogs and writing short stories to promote [my] work and touring and we’re all sort of constantly connected and we’re in constant communication which I find very stressful.

Jenna Blum: You need to keep up with the Jones’s all the time on Instagram, on Twitter, on Facebook. If I’m out of touch for an hour huge things seem to have happened. They really aren’t that huge, but you feel like you’ve missed out on something. I think the writer’s job now is not just to write the book, but also to help promote the books.

I actually love marketing. But I did find, especially before the launch of The Lost Family, my social media was taking about eight hours a day.

There was about a month where I was writing articles that would accompany the book’s launch, which actually felt like being a writer again. I was in my yoga pants, in my apartment, in a lockdown, which is how I write my books, but coming out of that there was all of a sudden this social media mushroom cloud that I need to tend to and also keep it mushrooming and grow it and burgeon it.


I started to realize that any time I looked at my phone I started to feel anxious because I felt like there was more and more and more I could be doing.

On Preferring Putting Pen to Paper

Jane Green: Do you write the whole [book] by hand?

Jenna Blum: I write my outlines by hand and I have a journal that I usually start my day with just to sort of clear my throat, to say what am I working on today, and what do I hope to accomplish from it.

I handwrite all my outlines because I’m sort of teaching them to myself, what structure my book will have.

Jane Green: I handwrite all my notes. Elin Hilderbrand handwrites the whole thing (her books) on yellow legal pads.

[To watch the full interview, visit Jane Green’s Facebook Page here.]

(Photo Credit: JennaBlum.com & JaneGreen.com)

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