Jane Doucet is a journalist whose articles have appeared in myriad national magazines, including Chatelaine and Canadian Living. In 2017 she self-published her debut novel, The Pregnant Pause, which was shortlisted for a 2018 Whistler Independent Book Award. Jane lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband. To learn more, visit janedoucet.com.
As your bio mentions, your first novel was self-published. How did that process compare to working with the team at Nimbus on your latest book, Fishnets & Fantasies?
Self-publishing was an incredible learning experience—and a lot of hard work. But I didn’t do it alone. I hired a talented team of professionals: editor, proofreader, book designer, website designer and launch publicist. Still, I wore several hats; I was the author, project manager, production co-ordinator, distributor and promoter, all on top of a full-time day job in communications. With Fishnets & Fantasies, I was able to focus on just being the author. Huge relief!
Do you have any advice for other writers who are considering the self-publishing route?
Don’t do it. No, I’m kidding! My advice is to thoroughly research self-publishing before you fully commit to it. There are many online resources, so investigate them to see if you’re up for the challenge. Then just go for it.
Did your background as a reporter and professional editor make it any easier to revise your own books and “kill your darlings” when needed?
Absolutely. After I finished the manuscript for The Pregnant Pause and fired my literary agent in London, England (long story for another Q&A), I stuck it in a drawer for 14 years before deciding to self-publish. When I returned to the manuscript with fresh eyes, I cut 20,000 words. But it’s always best to have an editor with an objective lens on the job (I hired one). As for being a reporter, I interviewed several people to help flesh out story lines in Fishnets & Fantasies, including two sex shop owners, a waitress and a seniors’ safety program co-ordinator. Their input helped make my fictional story more believable.
Fishnets & Fantasies is hot off the press just this month. What’s your favourite part about launching a new book?
The fame! The fortune! The adulation! But seriously, after being holed up in my home office staring at my iMac over the course of three and a half years—from the moment I started writing to when I held a printed book in my hand—it’s now thrilling to start hearing from readers who are enjoying what I’ve written. I will float all day when someone comments that one of my novels made them laugh, or feel seen, heard and empowered. There’s nothing better. Well, I guess it’d be nice to make some money, too.
Right from the first paragraph, Fishnets & Fantasies is both very funny and very Nova Scotian. How would you describe a quintessentially Bluenoser sense of humour?
First, thanks for your kind words and your well-placed italics. As for describing a quintessentially Bluenoser sense of humour, I’m not sure I can. I suppose Nova Scotians—and Atlantic Canadians generally, those living in the so-called “have-not” provinces—are pretty good at laughing at themselves in the face of adversity. Which is what many of my characters do.
Who are some other Nova Scotian writers who make you laugh out loud?
Top three: Lesley Crewe, Morgan Murray and Amy Spurway.
Fishnets & Fantasies comes on the heels of Ellen Denny’s play Pleasureville—which inspires one of your characters Wendy to open a sex shop in Lunenburg—and the popular Netflix series Grace and Frankie. Are you hoping this book will help spark a larger conversation around sex and aging in our society?
I first heard of Pleasureville six months after I finished writing Fishnets & Fantasies, and I had a mild coronary event. I was worried the playwright would think I had “borrowed” her idea, when in fact I had started writing three years earlier, long before she launched her show, so it was a total coincidence. I added the Pleasureville reference to my manuscript during revisions last year, after I saw the play at Neptune Theatre in the fall of 2019. In it, a millennial opens a sex shop in a small fictional town. While it has some similar themes, it’s very different from my novel, because it’s from a twentysomething’s perspective, and there are only three characters. As for Grace and Frankie, I loved every episode! I’m describing Fishnets & Fantasies as a cross between The Beachcombers and Grace and Frankie. If my novel sparks conversations around aging and sex (and it already is), I think that’s great.
I understand your next novel will combine elements from your first two books. How exciting! Are there any other details about that project you can share?
It is exciting—and terrifying! I hope I can pull it off. In my third novel, I’m bringing back Rose Ainsworth, The Pregnant Pause’s protagonist, at age 50 (she was 37 in The Pregnant Pause), and she’ll move to Lunenburg to take over the sex shop from her friend Wendy Hebb from Fishnets & Fantasies. I’ll be combining some characters and story lines from both of my novels to create a “sort-of” series. I’ve started writing it, and it’s great fun so far.
—Questions by K.R. Byggdin