I’m delighted to be part of the celebrations of Learning to Fly by Jane Lambert. Learning to Fly is Jane’s debut novel and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Today, Jane has kindly agreed to answer some questions about her writing and Learning to Fly.
Learning To Fly
Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth has everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot of a husband-in-waiting to match. But when he leaves her to ‘find himself’ (forgetting to mention the bit about ‘…a younger girlfriend’), Emily’s perfect world comes crashing down. Catapulted into a mid-life crisis, she is forced to take stock and make some major changes. She ditches her job and enrols on a drama course in pursuit of her childhood dream, positive that, in no time at all, she’ll be sexily sporting a stethoscope on ‘Holby City’, and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong! Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with rejection and financial insecurity. If she is to survive, she must learn to be happy with less, and develop a selective memory to cope with more than her fair share of humiliating auditions. She tells herself her big break is just around the corner. But is it too late to be chasing dreams?
An Interview with Jane Lambert
How have your experiences helped you in writing Learning to Fly?
My personal journey from glamorous, globe-trotting air stewardess to struggling actor inspired the theme of the book. Since becoming an actor and writer I’ve worked in all sorts of places to pay the bills. I have met so many people who feel trapped by their jobs or relationships and wish they’d had the courage to break free and follow their dream.
I wanted to write a book about how success is not necessarily a financial thing and doing what gives you fulfilment is healthier than focusing on your Christmas bonus. There are plenty of self-help books on the subject, written by authors far more qualified than me.
However, I wanted to write a romantic comedy with this theme at its heart – an ordinary, middle-aged woman starting over on her own and discovering true happiness and inner peace by taking control of her life – just as I did. The obstacle course the quirky Emily stumbles her way around provided the comedy and many of the events are loosely based on my own experiences – but I’d better not reveal which ones!
(You’ll have us all guessing now Jane!)
Does being an actress help or hinder your writing process?
It definitely helps to bring the characters to life. When you play a character you have to know them as well as you know yourself. You fill in the blanks and create a backstory: where they live, where they went to school, their first kiss, their likes and dislikes, what music they listen to, have they siblings, their childhood memories and so on.
I use the same research with the characters in my writing. Before you make an entrance on stage you should know where your character has come from, what time of day and year it is and what their purpose is. These things affect the way they walk and talk and help to make them real and three-dimensional. I apply this method to the characters in my books.
Do you think visually as you write?
Yes. As I write a scene I am transported to its location. I can see the characters, hear their conversations, feel the atmosphere. I use music to inspire me and have a Learning To Fly playlist.
Is it hard not to produce a script rather than a novel?
I am writing my first screenplay and am finding the reverse: keeping a tight rein on my descriptive voice and allowing the visual and the audio to take over is challenging.
Are you aware of the naturalness of dialogue more as a result?
Yes. People don’t speak perfectly and are not always confident in what they are saying. We interrupt one another, sometimes our sentences overlap, we get side-tracked, we mishear, conversations break down and awkward silences ensue. I bear this in mind when writing dialogue in the hope that my readers will find the characters flawed and believable.
About Jane Lambert
Jane studied French and German, taught English in Vienna then travelled the world as air crew before making the life-changing decision to become an actress.
She has appeared in “Calendar Girls”, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” and “Deathtrap” in London’s West End .
Learning to Fly is Jane’s debut novel. The audio book will be available in the Spring. Jane is in the process of writing the sequel, Marriage, Mafia & Mozzarella.
If you are in Edinburgh during the Festival pop along to Blackwell’s book shop at South Bridge on 18th August at 6 p.m. when Jane will be talking about mid-life reinvention and what inspired her to write Learning To Fly.
You can find out more about and from Jane with these other bloggers: