Bristol resident Jayne Conway never expected to become an author; creative writing was just something she loved to do in her spare time. But when she found herself laid off from a marketing job in 2014, she decided to give her hobby a real shot. She self-published her first novel, a romance based in Rhode Island called What If I Fly?, and was stunned at the response it received. Thanks to support from ARIA (Association of Rhode Island Authors), the book’s appealing setting and good old fashioned word-of-mouth – not to mention a plug from The Rhode Show – readers devoured it quickly. Jayne’s second novel, As It Seems, debuts this month.
As It Seems shares some similarities with What If I Fly? in that they’re both in the romantic fiction genre and both set in RI, although the new book’s two primary town settings are fictional. “The issues with neighbors and such could apply to any town in America, and I didn’t want people to read too much into the settings,” says Jayne. Bristol is featured again, however, and parts of the story take place on the East Side of Providence. But whereas What If I Fly? concerns a budding romance between two characters during the ages of 20-30, the characters in As It Seems are in their 40s, with many years of marriage under their belts. The main theme of the story? Adultery.
Despite her chosen genre, Jayne’s books are not “fluffy.” Even though What If I Fly? is a romantic fantasy, the protagonists still go through a lot, she says, and several readers described the emotions depicted as “gritty.” Even so, Jayne anticipated that the adultery theme in As It Seems would be very intense for some. She was surprised when just about all of her beta readers said that they personally related all too well to the situations in the book.
“It’s fiction, but there are elements of truth,” she continues. “I write what I know: marriage and divorce, parenting, falling in and out of love and disillusionment and depression. I know about wealth, poverty and every stage in between. My books contain real life elements built into fictitious stories, and I think that’s what makes them feel so ‘real.’ But I’m a sucker for a happy ending, and I’m writing my own.”