HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: First administrative stuff: the winners of the Charlie book of your choice are: Kiki, Tricia, and Terri Lynn! (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org) And thank you so much for entering the giveaway! (Click here!: https://a.pgtb.me/cBqF8x One day left to go! Two books for the price of one!)
Now. Today. You know what it is to be asked for a blurb—an author (or agent or editor) contacts you and asks very sweetly if you would read a new book with an eye to a blurb. Saying “yes” usually means you’ll do it. So if you don’t know the author, it’s a bit of a potentially sticky situation.
But when Jane Haseldine’s editor asked me, and I saw Jane’s résumé,—I thought—this is not a tough call. She’s a journalist. Like me. And she was a press secretary-ish to an elected official. Like I was. So, I thought, it’ll be fine.
I was wrong. It is TERRIFIC. I zoomed through The Last Time She Saw Him, and happily heaped lavish praise. You will love it. I also wanted you to meet her.
And happily, you’re meeting her here. And not on one specific day in college.
IT SEEMS FUNNY NOW…
During one of my first classes freshman year at Syracuse University, I inadvertently flashed a hundred students my underwear.
It happened during a chemistry class. I was a journalism major, but I had to take chemistry as a prerequisite because the school thought every student needed a balanced education, although I don’t think I’ve ever once busted out the periodic table to help me navigate through my days.
That morning, I was running late. I was wearing a long skirt, and during my rush to get to class, I didn’t realize that a wasp had hitched a ride underneath it. With seconds to go before the class started, the only seats available were in the front row. About one minute into the lecture, the wasp decided it didn’t like hanging out under my skirt anymore and started stinging me with a vengeance. My reaction? I jumped out of my seat and lifted my skirt up, desperate to get the wasp out. And 100 or so kids saw my underpants. Way to make a good impression when you’re eighteen and nothing matters more.
I was sure that humiliation would haunt me forever. But somehow, I’d forgotten it, until recently when my debut novel was published.
For me, it’s been beyond thrilling to have my story become something people can actually read instead of a work in progress on my computer. But it has also made me feel exposed, something I wasn’t expecting. My husband, who I met at a newspaper where he covered politics and I was on the crime beat, nailed it when he told me I was probably feeling that way because the story had been my lifeline.
He was right.
During the course of writing the book, my mom, a former journalist who named me Jane Eyre, took me to the library every Saturday growing up, and read me, “And Then There Were None,” when I was 11, was going through the last stage of Alzheimer’s. When my mom forgot her words that she had once spoken more eloquently than anyone else I’d ever met, or the time she’d looked at my newborn son and said, “What a beautiful baby. I bet your mother is proud,” I threw myself into writing the story. It was my own version of therapy I guess. Just like she was a writer, I was too, and I felt like if I could keep writing the story, somehow, I could hold onto her.
Silly the stuff we think sometimes.
The month I landed a literary agent, my mom died after her battle with a cruel disease. When the book was released, letting it go had taken on a deeper meaning for me.
I remember after the college underwear-baring incident, I called my mom, always calm, always classy, and always my motivation to keep pushing forward.
Her first comment was, “Oh dear.” And then after listening to me blather on, I could tell she was trying not to laugh. In hindsight, it was pretty funny. But I’ve never forgotten what she told me next. She said it might seem horrible now, but that I’d be okay. No, I couldn’t quit school and come home. I had to hold my head up and keep going forward. And if that’s all I could do, well, that would be enough, and I’d be all right.
I think if my mom were here, she’d tell me to enjoy the moment, that beautiful memories are the bond, not words in a book. But more importantly, I think she’d tell me to keep moving forward.
Who inspires you most?
HANK: Wait. Your real name is Jane Eyre? I love it. Oh. (I used to hate my first name, Harriet, so much that for a brief while, until my mom found out, I told people my name was Evangeline. I was, like, fourteen.)
So yes, Reds. Two possible questions. Who inspires you most? Or: did you ever make up a name?
The Last Time She Saw Him is the first book in the new Julia Gooden mystery series by Kensington Publishing and was released in July 2016.
A crime reporter searching for her kidnapped son must untangle the connection to her brother’s long ago disappearance.
Julia Gooden remembers nothing about the worst night of her life. Thirty years ago, her nine-year-old brother Ben—the person who promised he would always protect her—was abducted from the room they shared. Try as she might to recall any clue or detail, there is a black hole where Julia’s memories of that terrible event should be.
Now a crime reporter at a Detroit newspaper, Julia tries to give others the closure she’s never found. But guilt and grief over Ben’s disappearance have left her fearful that whoever took her brother is going to come back. Nowhere seems safe—not the city, not the suburbs, not even the secluded lake town where she plans to raise her children. And then, on the anniversary of Ben’s disappearance, Julia’s worst fears are realized when her two-year-old son, Will, is snatched from his bed.
Convinced that the crimes are related, Julia tries to piece together memories from her final day with Ben. Are the sudden reminders of her brother clues that will lead her to her son’s abductor, or merely coincidence? Julia knows she has hours at best to find Will alive, but the deeper she digs, the more personal and terrifying the battle becomes, and an undying promise may be her only hope of saving herself and her son.
Jane Haseldine is a journalist, former crime reporter, columnist, newspaper editor, magazine writer and deputy director of communications for a governor. Jane resides in Southern California with her husband and two young sons. You can find Jane at janehaseldine.com, Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.