Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author Jenn Bouchard about her career, what inspires her, and the work that went into her latest book, First Course.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I live in the Boston suburbs with my husband and two children. They’re 15 and 11. I have been teaching history to teenagers for twenty-two years. I’m an avid cook, love going to Boston Red Sox games, and I’m happiest at the ocean.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I finished a major volunteer position as the president of my college’s alumni association in 2014. It was all-encompassing, and I absolutely loved it. When it was over, there was a big empty space. I started thinking about trying to write a novel. I hadn’t written fiction since probably middle school. It was a bit random, but I went for it!
When did you take a step to start writing?
In addition to starting to write down a million ideas for plot and characters, I also started reading author interviews and going to author events when I could. Other authors continue to inspire me!
Drafting First Course took me a long time. My kids were much younger than they are now, so it was tougher for me to find the time. I did most of my writing during my summer breaks from teaching when the kids would be in day camp. I drafted on and off from 2015 through 2017.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
My first ideas were in 2014! First Course was published in June 2021. It was quite the journey.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
I started coming up with ideas for Palms on the Cape in 2020, but I didn’t do much until 2021. It took me six months to draft it… much quicker than the 2.5 years First Course took me! I am finishing my edits now and plan to query in March 2022. I have a good feeling about it.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write First Course?
I wanted to focus on a character turning forty and all that comes with it. I think it’s a time when many women evaluate where they’ve been and where they’re going.
What were your biggest challenges with writing First Course?
It’s always time. Teaching full-time means not just commuting to and from a job every weekday, but also bringing home a ton of grading. Making time to write is a huge challenge, and I need to constantly find ways to prioritize it.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
My main character in Palms on the Cape is Rachel Sinclair. Rachel is doing fine, or so she thinks. She owns a successful beach bar on Cape Cod and despite a tumultuous childhood, and she has surrounded herself with a wonderful chosen family (she just might be in love with her best guy friend, but who’s asking?). It’s a bit of a cross between “When Harry Met Sally” and the “Gilmore Girls,” with a couple of significant twists.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
Without giving too much away, my antagonist in Palms on the Cape is such a disappointment of a person. I designed him to be just that! He’s endearing in so many ways, but he ultimately lets you down. As painful as it is, this letdown is the only way that Rachel is going to move forward. The stakes are so high!
What is the inciting incident of First Course?
Deception. A bunch of awful lies.
What is the main conflict of First Course?
Rachel is worried she’s going to lose her business. Her fight to keep it brings her to the most unusual places with people she never expected to trust.
Did you plot First Course in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I am a plotter. I sketch out the entire book in advance. Some things do change as I go, and I am open to that. Some characters end up being much more important than I ever imagined, and I love getting to know them as I write.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did First Course need?
I have a good friend from growing up who is also an English teacher and a voracious reader. She reads everything I write and gives me great notes. She sees things I can’t see myself.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Write the kind of story you would enjoy reading.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Once I am done with these edits, plus writing the synopsis and query letter for Palms on the Cape, I plan to start researching and planning my next book. I have a few notes and basic ideas, and I need to spend some time on the New Hampshire seacoast to see if it works for my setting. It’s just up the road, less than an hour away. It takes place at a fictitious boarding school.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
It’s an absolute blast! I love being a writer, and I want to write all the time. It’s definitely worth it.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
First Course is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and almost anywhere books are sold. Most independent bookstores that don’t stock First Course can order it through Ingram or directly through my publisher TouchPoint Press.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @JennBouchardBOS
And if you enjoy First Course, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and BookBub!
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