In the house: Bellbrae author reveals story behind debut novel

February 6, 2020 BY

Jean Ross’ novel is inspired by her Bellbrae property. Photo: FERNE MILLEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Writers strive to have their work published but achieving this is a task not to be underestimated.

For Jean Ross, the nights spent dreaming about whether her name would one day sit on a stranger’s bookshelf have ended.

Jean, who uses the pen name Jeanie Green in honour of her mother and grandmother, has had her debut novel The House Sitter published with Authors Academy Elite.

Born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, the Bellbrae-based author took to writing full-time following a car accident about four years ago.

Since then, she has committed herself to honing her literary prose in the hope of mastering her first manuscript.

And while she was recommended to make a few tweaks to the original – including removing language barriers from the characters’ dialogue – writing The House Sitter was an overwhelmingly enjoyable experience for its creator.

“It’s all so new to me so I’m kind of finding my way through. I was so lucky to have had a woman from Kentucky who worked for AAE, loves horses and loved the book phone me to tell me it was going to be published,” she said.

“The whole process has been overwhelming. The biggest problem was when I was sending the book off for submissions, one of the characters spoke Gaelic.

“I was asked to consider taking it out and I think that was the turning point for the book.”

While the first three chapters of The House Sitter are set in Scotland, most of the book is inspired by Jean’s Bellbrae property and its many four-legged inhabitants.

A story of relationships, family drama and protagonist Julie Larkham’s journey to self-discovery, both the idea and the book’s title were conceived when Jean hired a house sitter to take care of her property, horses, dogs and cat while she visited family in Scotland.

The House Sitter was asked to sleep in the guest cottage next to the main house, but when she asked Jean if she could have access to the laundry and she obliged, Jean didn’t realise her request was code for “I’m going to throw a party in your house without you knowing about it”.

“Each of the characters have been inspired by my family. We have a big family, and I love them, but they’re all in Scotland,” she said.

“There’s twists and turns all the way through the book, but I think what people love about it is that they’re such real characters – they’ve got flaws, she’s (Julie Larkham) addicted to pain killers and drinks too much because she’s unhappy.

“She’s lost in this world of depression, and when she’s housesitting rural properties, her family move in and take over, but that’s when she comes back into being. She processes a lot of her grief and reclaims her life.

“It’s a classic hero’s journey where something awful happens and you have to find your way back.”

Jean said one of her writing coaches told her “getting published is harder than becoming a brain surgeon”, and as the words escaped his mouth, they formed a pathway to a pile of unread manuscripts collecting dust.

But Jean said she always knew she was going to be published.

“It’s phenomenal. I’ve been told by a clairvoyant several times that one day I’ll be published, and it’s finally happened.

“I’ve compared this book with The Saddle Club for adults.”

The House Sitter is available via amazon.com. It can also be ordered at any good bookstore through IngramSpark.

It is the first novel in The Braes Series, which will include nine novels. To learn more, head to jeaniegreen.com.