Jane Lambert talks about stepping out of your comfort zone.
1. Can you tell us a bit more about your novel Learning to Fly?
Although Emily, the main protagonist, is an ex-stewardess and the story is partly set in the world of aviation, I chose Learning To Fly as the title because it’s a metaphor for breaking free and starting something new, for stepping out of your comfort zone and looking risk in the eye. At the start of the book Emily’s world is turned upside down when her husband-in-waiting leaves her. Deciding it’s now or never (she’s 40), she turns her back on her old life to follow her dream of becoming an actress. The story follows her many ups and downs: juggling odd jobs with toe-curling auditions – with the odd disastrous romance along the way.
The subtitle of the book is ‘some things happen for a reason’ and this is the message behind the story – sometimes things have to fall apart so better things can fall together.
2. Is the book in any way based on your own experiences or is it all fiction?
My personal journey from glamorous, globe-trotting air stewardess to struggling actor inspired the theme of the book, yes. Since becoming an actor and writer I’ve worked in all sorts of places to pay the bills. I have met so many people who feel trapped by their jobs or relationships and wish they’d had the courage to break free and follow their dream.
I wanted to write about how success is not necessarily a financial thing and doing what gives you fulfilment is healthier than focusing on your Christmas bonus. I wanted my heroine to be a middle-aged woman starting over on her own and discovering true happiness and inner peace by taking control of her life, just as I did. The obstacle course the quirky Emily stumbles her way around provides the comedy and many of the events are loosely based on real events – but am not saying which ones!
3. Can you pick one of the secondary characters in the novel and tell us a bit more about him/her?
Francesco appears in the last three chapters. He’s an Italian chef and provides us with the original recipes in the book – as well as a sprinkling of romance. Emily calls him her “Mediterranean Mr Darcy – minus the disagreeableness”. This is because despite being suave and sophisticated, he has traditional values, is chivalrous, writes letters and doesn’t use social media or a microwave. However, there is a dark secret surrounding him.
4. What is a great book you’ve read recently that you would recommend to others?
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. I love the way the modern day characters in the book are experiencing the same ups and downs with their relationships and love affairs as the characters Jane Austen wrote about over two hundred years ago. Some things never change.
5. Do you have a specific favourite genre and if so, why?
My taste is varied: because I’m a hopeless romantic, I love romantic fiction (One Day is my favourite), classic novels because I like to be transported to another time. (I never tire of Rebecca) and some non-fiction, particularly if it’s about space. (I am currently reading Moondust by Andrew Smith. I’d love to travel into space as I’m fascinated by the effect looking back at the earth must have on you.)
Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth has everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot of a husband-in-waiting to match.
But when he leaves her to ‘find himself’ (forgetting to mention the bit about ‘…a younger girlfriend’), Emily’s perfect world comes crashing down. Catapulted into a mid-life crisis, she is forced to take stock and make some major changes. She ditches her job and enrols on a drama course in pursuit of her childhood dream, positive that, in no time at all, she’ll be sexily sporting a stethoscope on Holby City, and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong!
Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with rejection and financial insecurity. If she is to survive, she must learn to be happy with less, and develop a selective memory to cope with more than her fair share of humiliating auditions. She tells herself her big break is just around the corner.
But is it too late to be chasing dreams?
Jane Lambert gave up her job as cabin crew to become an actress and a writer- which is probably what makes her fictional character seem so real – and likeable!