Kit Hargrove is trying to reinvent herself. Following her divorce, she is shedding the skin of her former life as the wife of a Wall Street high-roller and embracing both a new home and a new job as assistant to world famous novelist Robert McClore, all the while remaining close to her children and friends in the affluent Connecticut town of Highfield. Her transition seems to be going well until a series of events dramatically reminds her that nothing is ever quite as it seems.
Kit’s friend Charlie and her husband lose everything as they become victims of the recession, the ambitious entrepreneur Tracy conceals the rekindling of her relationship with an abusive ex-lover who has eyes on Robert McClore’s wealth, and Kit’s life is turned up upside down when a long-lost sister she didn’t know she had has an affair with her ex-husband. Secrets and lies force this once tight group of friends to question not only who they can believe, but who they can trust.
Dune Road is an exploration into the facades we all build around us, the extreme measures to which we go in order to maintain them, and the importance of having those we love and respect support us when it all comes toppling down.
Jane Green was born and brought up in London. After abandoning a Fine Art degree and a stint in journalism, she went into public relations and worked for a time on This Morning. Jane then went back into the newspaper world and became a popular feature writer with the Daily Express, before going freelance and starting her first novel. A string of international bestsellers and marriage to an American later, Jane now lives in Connecticut – but flies home to London as often as four children and lots of animals allow.
Jane’s hugely successful books include; Straight Talking, Jemima J., Mr Maybe, Bookends, Babyville, Spellbound, The Other Woman and Life Swap. Her latest novel is Second Chance.
Q. Kit Hargrove is arguably the main protagonist of Dune Road, yet you seem to give the same level of detail to all of the characters. How do you tackle juggling so many stories? What’s your process for sculpting a three dimensional character?
Characterisation is everything, and I have always tended to create my characters first, with only a rough idea of the story, and then let them tell their own stories. I create them, often first from a snapshot of someone I don’t know, and then let them live in my head for a few weeks, scribbling notes. I love writing ensemble pieces, someone I wasn’t always confident enough to do, but the characters, when done well, feel so real to me they do tell me where they want the story to go.
Q. The people of Highfield seem to be plucked directly from reality. How much of your writing comes from your personal experiences? Where do you normally look for inspiration for your stories?
Of course I draw from my own life and that of my friends, but I never write about one person, despite what people may think. I have heard of many people who think they are in my pages, but that, I think, is what makes my book popular: not that I do write about real people, but that I write about them with a realism that makes you feel as if you could know them, or indeed, you do.
Q. What made you want to write this story in particular? Which characters were most exciting to write about? Which characters were you most interested in exploring?
I wanted to try my hand at a mystery, a genre I enjoy reading but had never attempted. To be honest, it was all rather more complicated than I expected… I loved writing Kit’s sister, she felt very real, and I am always fascinated by women who have the sort of magnetism that draws everyone to them; it is a rare, and sometimes dangerous, trait.
Q. The recession plays a big role toward the latter half of the novel. What role do current events play in your writing?
Living in an affluent suburb in the midst of a recession, I couldn’t not write about it. It affected everyone, and particularly those who are caught up in the materialism trap, without having the real means to support that lifestyle. I was interested in how life can turn on a dime, and by appearances, mostly that things are not quite how they seem.
Q. Do you envision a continuation of this story for these characters? What are you working on now?
I may revisit Kit at a later date, but I have just finished Promises to Keep, which I am passionate about. It was written during a year of nursing a friend with cancer, who asked me to write about it. It is not her story, but has a theme of breast cancer, and is the story of two sisters. Emotionally it was the hardest book I have ever written, and my friend died during the course of the writing. So of course it is for her, a book written with an angel at my shoulder.