Nova Scotian author Jane Doucet is the author of two books, The Pregnant Pause and her latest, Fishnets & Fantasies which will be released this summer (July 2021) by Vagrant Press, an imprint of Nimbus Publishing.
Miramichi Reader: Jane, I’ll admit I know very little about you other than you have written two books and that you got married in a library (more about that later). So, Jane, please tell us about your background, education, employment, etc.
Jane Doucet: I was born and raised in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. After graduating from high school in 1986, I did a two-year dance performance studies diploma program at Toronto’s George Brown College, then spent a term at the Washington School of Ballet in D.C. I set aside my dream of becoming a professional dancer to earn a journalism degree from the University of King’s College in 1993. In my fourth year, I did a month-long internship at FLARE magazine. When I graduated, I took a six-month maternity-leave-replacement contract as an assistant to the editor at FLARE. After that, I worked as a copy editor at Chatelaine and a researcher-reporter at Maclean’s. In 1999, I quit Maclean’s to freelance full-time in Toronto, and in 2000, I moved back to Halifax. I’ve been here working as a self-employed magazine and communications writer and editor ever since.
MR: It’s good to have you back here in the Maritimes. Now tell us about some of the books or authors that may have influenced you to become a writer.
JD: Two of my favourite Canadian authors are the late, great Carol Shields and Cape Breton’s Lesley Crewe. Both of them write about relatable, ordinary moments in life with incredible insight and empathy, and in Lesley’s case, humour. Also, strong yet flawed women tend to be their protagonists, which I love. I write the type of books I like to read, so in that respect, I suppose they have been influences.
MR: Do you have a favourite book, one that you like to revisit from time to time?
JD: I can’t name just one! Some of the books I’ve reread are Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Crow by Amy Spurway and A Celibate Season by Carol Shields. Books that really moved me. And the funnier the better, even if it’s gallows humour.
MR: Good stuff! Let’s talk about your novels, 2017’s The Pregnant Pause and the forthcoming Fishnets & Fantasies. Can you tell us a little about them?
JD: It’s funny because I had no interest in writing a novel. I never dabbled in creative fiction. I was happy with my journalism career and satisfied with reading other people’s novels. Then when I was in my mid-30s, I looked for a light-hearted novel about motherhood indecision that didn’t end with “And she had a baby and lived happily ever after.” I couldn’t find one, so I decided to try writing it myself. I worked on manuscript revisions with a literary agent in London, England, for three months, but (spoiler alert!) she decided that my protagonist should have a baby after all. I fired her, and many years later I decided to self-publish. Writing and publishing a novel was extremely hard work. I didn’t plan to write another novel, but shortly after launching The Pregnant Pause, I had an idea for a funny TV series about a married couple in their late 50s who open a sex shop in Lunenburg, N.S. I’m not a screenwriter, so I decided to write a novel and try to sell it to a network. That’s how Fishnets & Fantasies came to be.
MR: Now, your first book was self-published, but Fishnets & Fantasies got picked up by Nimbus Publishing. Would you recommend self-publishing to first-time authors and if so, what pitfalls should people be aware of?
JD: I’m thrilled that Vagrant Press, Nimbus Publishing’s fiction imprint, is launching Fishnets & Fantasies in July. Self-publishing was an incredible learning experience. I hired a professional team—editor, designer, proofreader, publicist—because I wanted a professional product. My husband was my tech-support person because I’m too impatient to figure out how to upload digital files. I was very proud when The Pregnant Pause was shortlisted for a 2018 Whistler Independent Book Award. I highly recommend self-publishing if you can afford to hire a talented team. It’s necessary if you want a good-quality book—one with a strong cover and that isn’t riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes. It has to stand up to traditionally published books on bookstore shelves.
MR: Good advice. What are you working on now?
JD: I’m halfway done with the first draft of the manuscript for my third novel, which will combine characters and storylines from my first two books. I’m bringing back Rose Ainsworth, the protagonist from The Pregnant Pause, 13 years later at age 50, and she’s moving to Lunenburg to take over the sex shop in Fishnets & Fantasies. It’s great fun returning to these characters a decade or more later and introducing them to each other. Recently I got an idea for a fourth novel—a murder mystery set in Nova Scotia, which is completely out of my comfort zone—so I’m afraid there will be no rest for me!
MR: What do you like to do when you are not writing?
JD: I read for pleasure every night. Books—mostly fiction, but some non-fiction, too—and magazines. Also, my husband and I love going to local cafés and travelling around the region.
MR: Finally, tell us about getting married in the Halifax Central Library! How did that come about as a location for your nuptials?
JD: My husband and I attended high school together, then we lost contact for more than 20 years until we bumped into each other at a Halifax bank in 2013. We had our first date at Pavia on the fifth floor of Central on Dec. 14, 2014, the day after it opened. In June of 2017, I held the launch for The Pregnant Pause in Room 301 at Central. We’re both avid readers and regularly borrow library books from Central, which is a 30-minute walk or a short drive from our house. When we decided to get married, we didn’t even consider another location. On Dec. 14, 2019, we had a small ceremony of six people (including us) in Central’s RBC Learning Centre.
MR: Thanks, Jane!
JD: Thanks for inviting me to chat!