Up until the time I entered middle school, that murderer of illusions, I believed in spirits of the air, sea, and earth. My family home was a rocky plot on a lagoon, so all three categories were at hand. The stones were enchanted and had names. There was definitely a spirit in each tree: I visited them, making regular tours of the ones whose low branches let me climb them. When I swam, I could feel the Nyads gliding all around me. The wind whispered in a secret language. Later, and not surprisingly, I was introduced to Greek myths and beliefs, which only confirmed my fantasies.
I’ve been a freelance writer since I was 21. Okay, I’ll let you in on the math: that’s 42 years of pushing the pen. I’ve only once (age 18) held a nine-to-five job. Sometimes I was without work, but I kept writing anyway while the wheel turned, until opportunities arose again. I had a blind trust that it would all work out if I hung in there. And it did. Until two things happened.
1) The 2007 screenwriters strike resulted in movie companies scaling back projects and deals. After we won, we found the picture had changed. There was not enough work to go around. And things never got better – got worse in fact, when the 2009 recession eliminated even more work.
2) I got old. Or older, anyway.
If there were fewer jobs to begin with, there were fewer still for older writers, and nearly none for older females. Suddenly I was on no one’s list, in spite of the valiant efforts of agent and manager.
So I wrote a book (Jane Was Here). And when that was done there was still no work. I taught a master class in screenwriting for a while. Then summer arrived, and I had nothing to do and no way to earn my keep. So I put in for my pension. Oh my God, I thought, terrified: I’m only 62 and I’m RETIRED! No one wants what I do. I might as well turn to mold in a hammock – or even (withering sneer) LEARN TO GARDEN! That was the most demoralizing activity I could think of because it’s what retirees do.
I went to a nursery and bought a couple of pots of coral bells and ladies’ mantle. I liked the names. I put them in the ground clumsily and watered the crap out of them. They forgave me, and grew. Maybe because I talked to them.
I yapped to the trees, too, as I rescued them, cutting away villainous bittersweet vines. I did draw the line at talking to the lawn.
Yes, I was back to my child self, spending hour after hours in the outdoors, in the company of spirits, instead of alone in the house with my laptop. The planting and pruning wasn’t too different from writing, I told myself, and then I stopped justifying gardening altogether. The natural world had me again.
I did get a job, after all. It was so annoying, because it took me away from gardening, and my magical friends.
A mysterious young woman calling herself Jane turns up in a small New England town. She claims a fragmentary memory of growing up in this place, yet she has never been here before in her life. Upon her arrival, strange and alarming things begin happening to some of the town's inhabitants. As Jane's memories reawaken piece by piece, they carry her back to a long-buried secret, while the townspeople hurtle forward to a horrific event when past and present fatally collide.
**PURCHASE JANE WAS HERE**
Sarah Kernochan received early acclaim for her Academy Award winning documentary Marjoe. She then recorded two albums for RCA as a singer-songwriter. In 1977, her first novel Dry Hustle was published. Returning to film, she scripted the the film Nine and ½ Weeks, Impromptu, Sommersby, What Lies Beneath and All I Wanna Do, which she also directed. She received a second Academy Award in 2002 for her short documentary Thoth. 2010 brought the re-issue of Dry Hustle as an ebook, and a third album of songs. 2011 brings us to Jane Was Here; Sarah’s first love and teenage ambition – a novel about reincarnation.