Q&A with Jamie Beck, Author of If You Must Know

by Heather Caliendo
jamie beck - interview- book club chat
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Jamie Beck is the author of If You Must Know, which will publish on June 1. 

Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than two million copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

Here’s the synopsis for If You Must Know:

Sisters Amanda Foster and Erin Turner have little in common except the childhood bedroom they once shared and the certainty each feels that her way of life is best. Amanda follows the rules—at the school where she works; in her community; and as a picture-perfect daughter, wife, and mother-to-be. Erin follows her heart—in love and otherwise—living a bohemian lifestyle on a shoestring budget and honoring her late father’s memory with a passion for music and her fledgling bath-products business.

The sisters are content leading separate but happy lives in their hometown of Potomac Point until everything is upended by lies that force them to confront unsettling truths about their family, themselves, and each other. For sisters as different as these two, building trust doesn’t come easily—especially with one secret still between them—but it may be the only way to save their family.

Get to know Jamie below where she talks favorite novels, story inspirations and much more!

What are some of your favorite novels?

The answer to this could go on forever, but I’ll try to be selective. Some older novels on my keeper shelf include Native Son, Snow Falling on Cedars, and A Prayer for Owen Meany. More recent favorites include Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Rosie Project, Me Before You, and When We Believed in Mermaids.

When did you know you wanted to become an author? What was the transition like going from lawyer to author? 

As a teen, I fantasized about writing for television dramas, but it seemed like a pipedream, so I pursued something practical. I practiced law for about a decade, then had the good fortune to be a stay-at-home mom when my kids were born. Once they hit grade school and I found myself with free time, I started secretly writing my first novel (a young adult novel that will never be published). I adored writing that book even though I had no idea what I was doing. After learning everything that was wrong with it, I joined writing organizations, bought craft books, and attended dozens of workshops and conferences so that I could improve. In addition to giving me a career I love, those efforts also opened me up to an entirely new world of diverse and interesting people. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I’m very grateful to my husband and kids, who’ve sacrificed a lot so that I could make this dream come true.

Are any of your stories based on real/people and events?

None of my books are based entirely on real people or events, although some of the elements of story and characters are. For example, the inspiration for my June release came from a few places. Firstly, my best friend’s husband—a forensic accountant—has told us many interesting stories of how and where criminals and errant husbands try to hide money. Second, my mother’s best friend sold her house at seventy-two-years-old and bought a trawler that she and her husband now live on (sailing the East Coast and Caribbean year-round). Finally, my mother-in-law is a medium, so she gave me the idea for including that character in the book as well.

What inspired you to write If You Must Know?

While I love a good love story, I’ve wanted to shift away romance novels and central romance storylines for a couple years. My publisher let me branch out into women’s fiction if I promised to include at least some romantic storyline, thus If You Must Know was born. It’s primarily a story about two sisters who each feel the other doesn’t much respect them, but there is also a bigger family crisis going on, and the sisters (and their mom) are grieving their father’s recent death. I’m forever fascinated by how we all can experience an event or person differently, and how our perceptions then shape our reality—so I explore that idea in many of my books. The ultimate point of this story is that our attitudes toward others often determine their attitudes toward us.

What are you working on next?

Truth Be Told releases in September. This is a multi-generational story about a recently divorced mother whose teen daughter suffers from extreme anxiety and whose grandmother has dementia and a secret past that, once discovered, helps all three women face their personal demons. As a mother of teens, this is a book that is very close to my heart. Currently I’m finishing the draft of my spring 2021 release, entitled For All She Knows. It’s a friendship-rift story with a bit of societal significance, but I’d rather not share the details this early in the process!

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list? 

Currently, I’m reading Sonali Dev’s Recipe for Persuasion and Alison Hammer’s You and Me and Us. I’m also looking forward to Barbara O’Neal’s Lost Girls of Devon and Kristan Higgin’s Always the Last to Know. I recently finished three other terrific stories: Liz Talley’s The Wedding War, Priscilla Oliveras’s Island Affair, and Kwana Jackson’s Real Men Knit.

Click here to order If You Must Know on Amazon. 

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