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Jen has a huge following (over a million books in print, with memoirs titled Bitter Is the New Black; Bright Lights, Big Ass; My Fair Lazy and Such a Pretty Fat).
Her fans have been clamoring for her to return to Phoenix . Now she is
answering the call on a “Spring Break tour” that includes various cities
in Flordia, and Phoenix , as she promotes her first novel, IF YOU WERE HERE.
Jen, your novel If
You Were Here is set in the same Chicago
suburb where John Hughes made all of his 80s films. What’s more, the book is
dedicated to Mr. Hughes. Why John Hughes?
The novel is set in the fictional town of Abington
Cambs, which I turned into my “Shermer, IL”
made so famous in all of Hughes’s films.
Actually, Hughes filmed in a handful of suburbs along the lake and to
the north of Chicago. I imagine the easiest thing for him was to
give them all one name, so that’s what I did, too.
Hughes hit his stride when I was a teenager and every film
he wrote during that time made me feel like he was talking directly to me. I will never forget that, so I think of John
Hughes as the guiding spirit of this book.
Ever since moving to Lake
Forest, I’d planned to bring flowers to John Hughes’s
grave. I was blocked creatively because
I didn’t know how to fix my book, so I figured I may as well get up from my
desk and go pay my respects. I clipped a
bunch of my best roses and drove to the cemetery.
While I was sitting on the bench across from his grave, I
began to reflect on his movies because they’ve had such an impact on my
life. In fact, we picked Lake Forest because it’s
the town where Hughes live before he passed away. That’s when it hit me to make Hughes the heart
of this book. I mean, we’re stretching
our budget to live where he used to live, so it would stand to reason that my
character Mia would as well. Hughes has
always been my inspiration and in this book, I formally recognize his