Bold Strokes Books author Jane C. Esther is here to chat about life, shopping, botanic gardens, and her debut novel.
She’s giving away two e-copies of The Universe Between Us. More details are below.
Please welcome Jane C. Esther.
Before we begin, thanks so much for stopping by today for a chat.
Thank you so much for the opportunity! This is my second official interview, and I’m so happy it’s with I Heart Lesfic.
You’re from Upstate New York. How is the area different from New York City?
Cows and crops. The first time I actually went to The City was after college, which shows you how cosmopolitan I am. I live in a fairly urban area outside of Boston, and I do miss the days of long bike rides down deserted country roads, and the smell of manure on a hot day. I’m only half-kidding. One of the reasons I set my novel, The Universe Between Us in a semi-rural area is because I wanted to honor the kind of quiet life I had growing up.
I’ve heard you love Wegmans. For those of us unfamiliar with it, can you share what it is and why you love it?
To give you an idea of the depth of my love for Wegmans (a grocery store), I cried the first couple of times I drove up to one of the new stores that opened near where I live now. It felt like coming home, which is weird because this new Wegmans is at least 3 times the size of the one we used to go to. It’s like a small city inside. Wegmans is basically your normal grocery store with mood lighting and giant portions of food, so it’s great for families. Or for people like me, who buy enough for a small army even though I only live with my wife. It helps that Wegmans always makes all the “best workplaces” lists, so you feel like you’re not only having an amazing shopping experience, but you’re also supporting a fantastic family business that treats its workers right. (Wegmans, please call me for your next commercial).
What’s your idea of the perfect day?
Any day I can spend at a botanic garden is a wonderful day. I worked for a summer at Kew Gardens, and it was probably the best summer of my life. I would eat lunch at a little duck pond, and then at the end of my day, I’d sometimes walk through the Systematic Garden and smell all the mint relatives, and then hang out with the opium poppies, which are some of the most beautiful and dangerous plants on Earth. I love my wife and my friends, but sometimes solitude in a beautiful place is really perfection.
Tell us about your debut novel The Universe Between Us.
The Universe Between Us is a story about two women with vastly different life paths who fall in love. Ana is a scientist who’s been preparing for a mission to Mars since she was an adolescent. Her mom is the mission director, so she doesn’t feel like she ever had the choice that her fellow astronauts did. She struggles with this throughout the story.
Jolie is an art student from small-town Nebraska who wants to move off-campus so she can have more time in the studio. She moves in as Ana’s roommate, and there’s some flirting, then some canoodling. She makes the mistake of falling in love with Ana, even though she’s about to head to Mars. Ana has to decide if it’s more important to take a step for the good of humanity, or follow her heart.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer and how long did it take to get your first story published?
I have written on and off over the years. I have this adorable book about fish from second grade that I guess was really my debut novel. Print run of 1. I spent a lot of my time as a kid hanging out at the library and reading, plus my mom was an English teacher, so it was sort of ingrained in me to think about the written word. I entered a short story contest in high school through the local library and won my very first CD–it was Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. That was the first time I got paid or rewarded for my writing, though I think there were only about two entrants. Then I took a creative writing class in college and felt like a total failure at it. I was pretty sure I’d never be good enough, especially since there were so many guys in that class who were extremely confident in their writing. Classic self-esteem issues.
Anyway, this roundabout story ends with me reading a ton of lesbian romance and deciding that I wanted to participate. I started The Universe Between Us as it is today when I was in a hotel room in North Platte, Nebraska, a place I’ve only visited once, but love. Then, my sister was diagnosed with cancer, and everything became more urgent. It was definitely a wake-up call for me to accomplish my creative goals, and that’s when I got really serious about writing. It was about two and a half years before I submitted my novel to Bold Strokes Books, a few months later they agreed to publish it, and here we are!
Are you working on a new story and can you tell us about it?
Yes! I am working on a two-book series about a woman who becomes possessed by an alien and has to get her ex-girlfriend to help her figure out what’s going on. The first book is called Uninvited, and follows the story to the point at which we find out why the alien is here. It’s very much another ode to female scientists (as The Universe Between Us is).
Finally, what’s one of your quirks that not many know about?
I watch old episodes of Full House and laugh at all the jokes, because my sense of humor hasn’t changed in 25 years. Oh, Mylanta!
Thanks so much for chatting today.
It has been a pleasure to talk to you, and thank you so much for bringing visibility to queer books. It will never stop being important.
THE UNIVERSE BETWEEN US
Release date: January 16, 2018
Romance / Speculative Fiction
Charming biochemist Ana Mitchell has a lot on her mind—she’s about to leave on a covert mission to colonize Mars. She enlists local art student Jolie Dann to keep her high-tech farmhouse in order while she’s at training camp. Jolie soon finds herself falling for the secretive and fascinating Ana, despite knowing she may never return home.
Their relationship is challenged when the mission’s timeline is suddenly accelerated. Will Ana choose to put the universe between herself and Jolie, or will she take a chance on the one person who can keep her on Earth?
MEET THE AUTHOR
Jane C. Esther is a librarian by day and a writer by night. Her idea of a good time involves a microscope, binoculars, trashy TV about the British royal family, or randomly singing Broadway show tunes. You can find her recounting the results of the latest scientific studies to whoever will listen, and secretly transforming her house into an indoor vegetable farm. She lives in New England with her wife and dog. The Universe Between Us is her first novel.
CONNECT WITH JANE C. ESTHER
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THE UNIVERSE BETWEEN US
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Thanks so much for stopping by today.
Best of luck to everyone who enters the giveaway.