Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Conversation with Kate Jacobs


I can't believe my luck!  Best-selling writers tend to be extremely busy people, so I'm very grateful that Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club and Comfort Food, took the time to do this interview with me via email right before the release of her new book, Knit Two.

1) Kate, my first question is which blog post title do you prefer,
A Conversation with Kate Jacobs, or An Interview with Kate Jacobs?  Or something else altogether?

KJ: Whatever works for you, Susan! Either title is just right.

(As you can see, I chose the first title, because Kate Jacobs is remarkably personable.  I felt as if we really did have a conversation, because her emails to me were so warm and friendly.)

2) Were you influenced by any particular (women) writers as a child? 

KJ: Well, I certainly loved to read! But I’m not sure I was influenced so much in writing style as in my awareness of the world and of ideas. That’s the great magic of books. Now I was a library kid growing up – I’m from a small town and there often wasn’t even a bookstore in town. And my mother is a big reader and we would often go together. When I was a little girl, I adored Anne of Green Gables – though that’s rather a prerequisite for a Canadian girlhood – and I also vividly remember a novel called From Anna by Jean Little. I essentially read everything I could get my hands on and continued doing that as a I got older, devouring everything from dramas to thrillers to Westerns to literary fiction. When I was an older teen, the novel that just hit me was So Big by Edna Ferber and to this day I often reflect on that novel, with its themes about the nature of success and the importance of creativity.

3) Are you on a writing schedule?  Do you write every day?

KJ: I intentionally do not write every day. My overall process is that I write, and then I recharge. So I prefer to go through periods where I’m thinking and absorbing and reading and being social, and then go through stretches of time where I stay in and wear pajamas and am just focused on the story all the time. I write in bursts. That said, I am always working on a story even if I’m not always doing that work at the computer. Also, I tend to write early in the morning or late at night, blocks of time when the house is quiet and I won’t be distracted. I love distractions! If my deadline is looming, I will definitely be sorting laundry or baking. It’s some combination of procrastination and stress relief.

4) Do you drink coffee or tea while writing? (As a tea guzzler, I had to ask this!)

KJ: I do enjoy a good cup of tea. I just love a nice cup of English Breakfast with a little lactose-free milk and sugar. Or homemade iced tea; that’s great. And a cookie tucked in somewhere. However, my real secret is that I love bubbles. Carbonation, to be precise. So I drink a lot of sparkling water and -- my big vice – nice, cold glasses of Pepsi. (My husband is a Coke drinker, btw.) I try to limit my soda in general, so no pop for me if I’m not typing. But the last few weeks of working on a book are just long, long hours and I exist in an endless Pepsi haze. It’s both glorious and awful – delicious but too much sugar and caffeine all at once.

(Kate, I've recently discovered lemon-flavored San Pellegrino, Limonata. It's transcendent!)

5) Do you listen to music, or prefer silence while writing?

KJ: Both – but not at the same time. I typically prefer to work in silence because I can concentrate. It’s especially nice when my dog Baxter snoozes under my desk and so I can just hear his little breaths. However, there are moments when the characters and I need a little buoying up -- it could be a sad scene or I could just feel frustrated with the story. And so I’ll put on some perky instrumental background music.

6) What advice do you have for aspiring writers, especially women?

KJ: Believe in yourself. Ignore the naysayers. Keep at it. Tell the stories you feel you want to tell and are driven to tell. And just keep putting one word after another on the page. That’s the only way you’ll finish your manuscript!

7) You lived in NY for ten years.  I grew up in NY, and feel as if you captured something very real about NY life and the cozy yarn shop which becomes an oasis for these women.  Did you enjoy living in NY?  Which experiences did you most enjoy?  What did you dislike about NY?

KJ: Well, initially I hated New York! Too busy and too loud. Overall, it was a big change from growing up in Canada. But then, once I’d made friends, I really began to get a sense of home. That was important. And after awhile I simply couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I didn’t always enjoy living in a small apartment, especially once I got married and my husband moved in with all of his boxes. What did I love? The restaurants. The people. The access to indie movies. The noise. I never sleep so well now as when I hear sirens and traffic, which is funny because that’s what drove me insane when I had first arrived. Of course, life is full of surprises, and change is always around the corner. I thought I’d never leave the city and now I live in southern California (because of my husband’s work). And you know what? I like warm weather. I like the people. And I love having my own washer and dryer which we were never able to have in our Manhattan apartment. So every experience has pluses and minuses.

8) Your new book, Knit Two, is coming out on Nov. 25, a sequel to The Friday Night Knitting Club. Was it harder or easier to write the sequel? 

KJ: Different. Just different. Writing is always hard and it can also be wonderful. On the one hand, it was a joy to return to the characters of The Friday Night Knitting Club – to Dakota and Catherine and Anita and so on. On the other hand, I had to stay true to who they were – the past experiences, how they looked, etc – and that requires a certain discipline. But, without question, I loved writing Knit Two. I intentionally made it soothing and upbeat, because I wanted to balance out some of the emotion from FNKC, and also because it just felt right. I am so excited to share this novel with readers; I can’t wait to go out on book tour in Dec. and Jan.!

And I can't wait to read Knit Two! Thank you so much for doing this interview, Kate! 

Comments are welcomed.


  1. How cool to interview an author via email! I will have to try contacting some of my favorite authors that way...especially when a book really gets me fired up! It is great to reconnect with you, Susan! I am enjoying our visits over tea!

  2. I'm also enjoying our visits! Thanks for your comments, Marge!

  3. Very cool insights into a successful writer's work! Ms. Jacobs' success proves the truth that all good works - such as writing a story - require hard work and sacrifice. Inspiring!

  4. Thanks for this post/conversation. I'm an aspiring writer, thinking that non-fiction is where I'll head, but it's always good to hear from a sucessfully published pro. Your questions and Kate's responses were wonderfully motivating. Thank you so much!

  5. Thank you, Rudy and Christie, for your comments. Warm and gracious, Kate Jacobs took time out of her hectic schedule to do this interview in order to inspire others.

    I am counting down the days until Knit Two!

  6. Great interview! How wonderfully open and easy to follow. I felt as if I was sitting there listening to the two of you, while sipping tea.

  7. Thanks, Eriko. Kate Jacobs was "easy to talk to".

  8. Great interview! I really felt like I got to know Kate. How fun. Can't wait to finish FNKC so I can read Knit two.

  9. Thanks, Rebecca! Knit Two is wonderful, too!

  10. A wonderful interview to read Susan; informative and encouraging. It is always fun to know what helps another person fuel the creative process. Another plus for the tea drinker, although the author seems to enjoy her caffeinated sodas too.

  11. I loved this book! We read the first one in a book club I was in and I couldn't wait to read this. I really need to look Kate Jacobs up - has she written any books recently?


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