I had the honor of meeting bestselling author Jane Harper. We had a lovely lunch, arranged by the publishing house A.W. Bruna in Amsterdam with some other bloggers as well.
Jane Harper moved from England to Australia when she was a child. She worked as a journalist for over thirteen years. The Dry is her thriller debut and she won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for the unpublished manuscript of the same book. The rights have been sold to over 22 countries and the film rights have been sold to Reese Witherspoon and Pacific Standard.
This week I had the chance to have lunch with her along with some other lovely bloggers. What a joy it was. She is so nice and so sweet and just a great person to talk to. We had lunch at this Australian lunch place called Little Collins in Amsterdam. Jane Harper said it reminded her of Melbourne, where she lives. Even the staff was Australian. The food was also typical Australian, so it was an all over Australian lunch. How lovely!
Jane Harper tells us that she always wanted to be a writer since she was a little girl. It’s actually an amazing story when she tells us how she got into writing this book, considering that she was already a successful journalist. Turns out that she did a writing course for about twelve weeks and writing chapters of this book was basically her homework. Once the course was done, she worked further on the book and it turned into her amazing book The Dry. What a story right?! The story takes place in Australia and that was her inspiration as well. She loves to read thrillers herself (she loves Lee Child and the Jack Reacher books!) and she wanted to write a mysterious book that would take place in Australia. They have a lot of ‘abandoned’ little city’s there and she thought it would be perfect to let the story take place there.
Some writers experience difficulties during the writing process, but as soon as Jane Harper has the idea of the book, it will all be fine. ”I have more struggles with getting ideas than the writing part. As soon as I have an idea, the writing will go by itself”, she says. She does believe in a so called ‘writer’s block’, but she believes that if you just keep trying, that it will work by itself. ”Just write and then you can always throw it away if you don’t like it. I have thousands and thousands of words I wrote but that I didn’t use. It did help me with the process, so just keep trying and don’t stop writing,” she says.
The Dry went straight to number one on the bestselling lists in Australia. She was in a café with her publisher at the time she heard it. ”I was so happy when I heard it, but we had a book signing and we just went straight back to work, but I was really excited”, she says. The film rights have also been sold to Reese Witherspoon and Pacific Standard. Jane: ”I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. My agent knows a guy called Jerry in Hollywood, and then all of the sudden I got a call from him that he was really interested. It’s a dream come true.” It’s not clear yet when and if the movie will be made or come out anytime soon. Finger’s crossed!
Her second book is already written and almost even finished. It will be a thriller again and the main character Aaron Falk is also part of the book. It will be a different story and a different book, but some characters will return. It will also be a mysterious thriller, which I’m really excited about. I asked her if she had any advice for aspiring writers. Jane: ”What really helped for me is to write the scenes that you want to take place in the book, from beginning to end. That you have some clue where you want the story to go to. Those scenes can be really short, whatever you want. Once you have those scenes cleared out, you can build the story around it. It also helps to set deadlines for yourself. For example that you want to write a chapter a day and then stick to it as well. You don’t want it to take ten years before it’s finished.”
Writing her first book The Dry was easier than writing her second one. ”When you haven’t published anything yet, people don’t really care and don’t have any expectations. Now that I’m finishing my second book, there’s a lot more pressure. Because The Dry did so well, they expect my second book to also be great”, she says. Well, I think it will all be fine. I can’t wait.
I want to thank A.W. Bruna for this amazing opportunity to meet Jane Harper and for arranging this lovely lunch.