The Ride, is Jane’s first novel and was released by ArcheBooks Publishing in August 2008.
When did you begin your writing career?
For years, I considered myself a ‘professional tourist’ as my husband’s career kept our family moving around the globe. Settling in and exploring each new locale was an exciting, full time job with no pay but a host of benefits. Our temporary homes in Taiwan, South Korea, England, the Netherlands, Italy, and Saudi Arabia provided opportunities to travel to many other countries as well. When my husband opted for early retirement about seven years ago, my touring ‘job’ came to an end. Once we settled back in America, I discovered I had run out of excuses for not following my dream of becoming a writer. It didn’t take me long to realize I loved my new pursuit and to settle into the daily routine of working on a manuscript. Writing a novel, I soon learned, was the easiest step of the publication process.
The Ride about?
Unaware that her mundane existence will soon be unraveling, Barbie Anderson approaches that fateful Thursday as she had the other 8,395 days of her marriage. When her world is shaken by a death and the disclosure of shocking family secrets, she begins to question her own identity. Her attempts to deal with the revelations, salvage her marriage and keep her daily routine from spiraling out of control are hindered by her self-esteem issues, an estranged daughter and an obsessed, self-centered husband. When a handsome stranger enters the fray, Barbie finds herself embarking on the ride of her life down historic Route 66 and on the road to self-discovery.
Is the story based on your experiences?
The first time someone asked me this question, I was stunned. I’m a fiction writer so I thought it was obvious that The Ride was the result of my imagination and not my life. Later and much to my surprise, I learned that many first novels are based on the author’s own experiences. However, in my case, the storyline existed only in my head and the characters are conglomerations put together from bits and pieces of people I’ve met or seen over the course of many years.
Where did the idea for the plot come from?
I woke up from a dream about a backyard roller coaster running amok and, like other dreams I’ve had, thought it was an interesting story idea. The idea didn’t fizzle out in the light of day as my ‘dream stories’ often do. I let the idea roll around in my head for a couple of days and then started writing.
Did you write from an outline or let the story unfold naturally?
I didn’t outline but I did jot down a few ideas. Then I let the story carry me long. As dreams seem to be more in the genre of Stephen King, I originally thought The Ride would have a horror or at least a supernatural element. I was surprised when the plot went in an entirely different direction than I first imagined. It’s as though at some point during the process of writing, my characters took control and I simply had to follow their lead.
Two of your main characters are Barbie and Ken. Is it coincidence or intentional that they have the same names as the popular dolls?
It’s intentional. The dolls exude an aura of perfection from their looks to their matching accessories, homes and cars. My characters couldn’t have been more opposite. I enjoyed the comparison and symbolism. At one point in the book Barbie mulls over her marriage to Ken and thinks to herself, “Our appearance may not resemble the dolls but our relationship is as plastic as they are.” When I read the Mattel press release about the breakup of Barbie and Ken dolls a few years ago, I thought it would be fun to work it into the plot, as well.
In The Ride Barbie has a lot of conversations with herself. Was this deliberate?
Yes. I went against the convention of ‘proper’ novel writing by using a lot of Barbie’s inner thoughts. I felt it was important to show readers that her depression and low self-esteem kept her from verbalizing how she really felt. It was her tendency to say one thing but think another. Because of her insecurity, she had a distorted view of herself and her world. I consider her vivid thoughts and her ability to fantasize about events, real or imaginary, an important part of the plot.
What message does the book deliver?
I hope there are several messages, such as a marriage without love is not a marriage at all, or it’s better to be alone than to stay in an unhealthy relationship. The main message, however, is that life should be one fantastic fun ‘ride.’ If it isn’t, do something about it, but never accept unhappiness as a way of life.
What audience will this book will appeal to?
In my opinion, women of all ages will find something to identify with or relate to in The Ride. However, I have also heard from several men who have read and enjoyed the book as well. I think that’s because it is a funny, fast read.
Are you planning a sequel?
Although I’ve been flattered by the number of people who have said they wanted to read more about Barbie, I currently have no plans to write a sequel. I learned long ago though, never to say never. I am, however, currently working on my second novel titled, Reigning Cats and Dogs.
Jane, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Love the names of your main characters.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Web page - http://janesutton.com/
Blog – Jane’s Ride http://janekennedysutton.blogspot.com/