Perfect Fall Reading: Sarah Jio

Sarah Jio is the author of The Violets of March (a Library Journal Best Book of 2011), The Bungalow, and Blackberry Winter (out on 9/25) and is a sensational author that has been creating a buzz with booksellers, critics, and readers alike.  It wasn’t until I’d left Seattle that I finally realized Sarah had been in my own backyard and I’d missed an incredible opportunity to get to know her while I was there.  Fortunately, Sarah is as lovely as she is talented, and she’s agreed to be featured here on my JaneBlog for my first Perfect Fall Reading feature, a feature I’m kicking off this weekend to celebrate great Fall releases, since so many of you loved my Summer Reading feature on my blog.

Now back to Sarah!

Sarah’s books are published by Penguin, Plume, and have been sold for publication in 17 countries. Her fourth novel will be out in May 2013, and its not surprising that she’s considered a master craftsman as she began her career as a journalist, writing for magazines including Glamour, Real Simple, O, The Oprah Magazine, Redbook and many other publications. Sarah lives in Seattle with her husband and three young sons, and her third novel, Blackberry Winter, debuts from Penguin (Plume) just days from now on September 25, 2012.

In Blackberry Winter –taking its title from a late-season, cold-weather phenomenon–Jio continues her rich exploration of the ways personal connections can transcend the boundaries of time.

Seattle, 1933. Single mother Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and departs to work the night-shift at a local hotel. She emerges to discover that a May-Day snow has blanketed the city, and that her son has vanished. Outside, she finds his beloved teddy bear lying face-down on an icy street, the snow covering up any trace of his tracks, or the perpetrator’s.

Seattle, 2010. Seattle Herald reporter Claire Aldridge, assigned to cover the May 1 “blackberry winter” storm and its twin, learns of the unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth. In the process, she finds that she and Vera may be linked in unexpected ways…

And now over to Sarah!

Why I’m Writing My Next Novel on a Houseboat in Seattle

Hello, lovely Jane Porter readers! I’m so delighted to be guest blogging here today. Jane asked me to share a post (on any topic! So generous.), and I thought I’d write a little about a big leap I took this month, well, a big splurge. Where to begin? OK, let me start by asking you a question: Have you ever done something a little out of the ordinary, a little outrageous? Maybe you always dreamed of quitting your job and moving to Hawaii? Or maybe you decided to take sky-diving lessons or even go belly dancing? OK, here’s what I did recently: I rented a houseboat as my new writing office!

I fell in love with houseboats after seeing “Sleepless in Seattle” so many years ago, and after I got married in 2001, my husband and I settled in Seattle. We thought about buying a houseboat, but for one reason or another, it never worked out, and we ended up purchasing a traditional home (i.e., one with a foundation). But, years later—and now with three boys under the age of six—I never gave up on the houseboat dream, even if it still seemed a tad impractical and out of reach. When compiling ideas for my fifth novel, which I recently sold to my editor at Penguin, I knew exactly where I wanted the book to be set. Any guesses? Yes, on a Seattle houseboat.

For research, I figured I’d interview houseboat residents, read up on the lifestyle, and if I was lucky, maybe rent one for a night. But then, my husband made a very generous suggestion. He said, “Why don’t you rent a houseboat for a few months as your office?” At first I refused. It seemed like a crazy-extravagant expense, especially when I’d hardly be able to sneak out everyday to write (remember, the kids)! But, I began to think about it, and he had a point: What better way for me to really soak up the houseboat lifestyle than to have one all to myself–to be able to pop over during the weekend and write a chapter, or stay up late and edit while stealing glances at the sparkling water with the moon shining above. I caved and said yes.

We ended up finding the most charming little houseboat on the east side of Lake Union, and signed a four-month lease (which means I’ll be able to see three seasons on the houseboat: summer, fall and winter, since we have through New Year’s). It has a loft bedroom with a porthole window (accessed by the quaint ship’s ladder), a charming little kitchen stocked with all the essentials, a rooftop deck with a breathtaking view of the city and the Space Needle, a pair of kayaks, and, two resident mallard ducks who waddle past my deck every day.

I wrote the first two chapters of this new novel recently, and I already feel such a connection to the characters and the setting. As I type this on my laptop, I’m sitting on the sofa that looks out at the lake. A gentle wake from a boat is lapping up against the side of the houseboat, and the sunset is a golden-purple hue. It’s about as good as it gets!

Stay tuned for details about the new novel, (including the title!), in months to come. For now, I can say that it will debut most likely in the late fall or winter of 2013.

What unexpected risks or splurges have you made in your life in the name of happiness and “you only live once”? I’d love to hear!

Learn more about Sarah at or via Facebook:


Sarah, thanks so much for joining us today!  I’m so happy you were able to join us here on my JaneBlog and can’t wait to read your new book.  I’ve pre-ordered a copy as I love your writing and am delighted to celebrate the release of Blackberry Winter with a contest for my readers.

There will be two winners, and each winner will receive a copy of Sarah Jio’s The Bungalow, a signed copy of Flirting with Forty (share it with someone you love if you already have a copy!), Starbucks drink cards, and JP swag.  How to win?   Tell me about your September so far, and if you’ve read anything special this month.  You know I’m always looking for recommendations and books to add to my shopping list!

Happy reading everyone, and here’s to a Fall filled with wonderful authors and books!


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