Jane Porter of Yarrow Point has always been a writer. Instead of playing tetherball or climbing a jungle gym she’d spend her recesses writing poetry and fiction. Today, that’s still what she’s doing – only now she’s a best-selling author who uses her characters to tell stories a lot of women can relate to. Including herself.
“I’m not comfortable with people who are too polished. I don’t trust it,” Porter says. “I want to make sure that we don’t polish off all the edges of the women in our society.” She appreciates women who have strong feelings about topics, women who speak up and laugh hard. “I love a woman who’s a bit ballsy or a bit too blunt or even a bit too sensitive.” Those are the women you’ll meet in her novels.
Porter grew up in the central California town of Visalia. When she was in high school, her family was shattered by the unexpected death of her father, a college professor who also was the town mayor, who suffered a heart attack in his mid-40s.
“His dream was someday to just write. And so when he died, there were boxes of all his unpublished work and I think that really stayed with me. You don’t have forever. In fact, we’re lucky for 40 years. So don’t waste it.”
From writing her first short story at the age of 5 to her first novel in the fourth grade, Porter found it took a few more years to become a big-time author. “I grew up writing and spent recesses sitting against the classroom wall scribbling poems and stories,” she said.
She earned her master’s degree in writing and worked as an English teacher for several years. Like her father, her dream was to become a published author. It took her 13 years to sell her first novel – a meeting with an editor in London changed everything. Her first book was published by Harlequin London in 2000. She has since written 30 books for that publisher and her other publisher, Hachette Book Group, in New York. Her books can be described as “romance” and “modern-lit” or “chick-lit.”
“I don’t feel like I’m a real writer because a real writer can just create everything off the top of their head and not rely on (personal experiences). I do use my emotions. Emotions can be what drive stories. Tragedy. Loss. I go back to a longing. Losing my dad and having that family shattered when I was in high school changed everything,” Porter said. “I am still that child wanting that very happy ending. I want it not necessarily just for me. I want it for everybody.”
The Story of Her Life
Porter’s life is busy. Sometimes it’s chaotic. She wouldn’t want it any other way.
“With three boys, a partner that loves being a boy, a one-eyed English bulldog and half-dozen skateboards and surfboards propped all over the house, we’re busy,” she said. Porter has two older boys from a previous marriage, Jake, 15 and Ty, 11. She met her current partner while researching one of her books, “Flirting With Forty.” One of her characters was a hot surfer guy, so she headed to Hawaii to interview real-life “Surfer Ty” for inspiration. What she ended up with were some real life sparks.
“When I sat down and started interviewing him, there was not just a surfer body there,” Porter says. “There was intensity in the way he watched and there was something happening in the way he listened.” The two got together in real life. They have a toddler son, Mac, and the entire family now splits their time between living on the Eastside and living in Hawaii where the real Ty Gurney runs his successful surf school and board shop in Waikiki.
“We ended up living the story I imagined after (‘Flirting with Forty’) was pretty much written,” she said. “Because I could imagine in a book how a Bellevue or Washington soccer mom could fall in love with a surfer and a younger surfer could fall in love with a soccer mom type of thing.
“It actually felt easier to live it.”