This debut novel is a must for summer reading. While it deals with heavier topics like self-image, body positivity, and loss, it is full of positive uplifting moments as Poppy learns not only to love herself, both opening her heart to loving someone else as well.
This book is full of charm, and romance set in the beautiful setting of the south of France.
Get an inside look into the inspiration for the book, Jamie’s favorite scene to write, who she’d like to see play the characters from the book on the big screen, and more.
First of all, I absolutely loved the book! When did you first come up with the storyline for Main Character Energy?
Thank you so much! When I spent 8 months in the south of France in 2018, I definitely knew it was a special place and wanted to set a book there at some point. In many ways, I think that was the initial spark of an idea that would hit me in late summer 2020 when I was in lockdown in LA, dreaming of escaping to France once again. The idea came from purely wish fulfillment in the beginning—what would be the most magical thing to happen? Well, a letter in the mail that would whisk me off to France and present a villa to me! From there, creating all the conflicts was so fun and it was true escapism during a really rough time in our collective history.
What drew you to set the novel in the French Riviera?
As I mentioned above, I spent eight months living in Cannes in 2018 and it was such a wonderful experience. I love the energy in the south of France. It’s so vivid and beautiful there, with some of the most magical places I’ve ever seen within 30-minute train rides from each other. I was captivated by Cannes, Villefrance-sur-Mer, Eze, Monaco, Nice—it was like discovering a part of my identity I didn’t know existed. I just knew I wanted to write about it and set a cinematic type of novel there.
Is the villa based on a place you’ve visited before, or purely imaginary?
The villa itself is totally imaginary, but I did lots of “house hunting” on my computer to find the specifics of Margot’s villa. But having spent a lot of time on the Riviera, I also had a sense of what those types of villas looked and felt like, having walked by them for months.
What characteristics do you feel you share with Poppy?
Oh god, quite a lot! I do think I put a good amount of my own neuroses into Poppy’s head—the self-doubt, that feeling like it’s easier to give up rather than withstand rejection and disappointment, predisposition to self-sabotage, and a constant worry that I don’t deserve what I really want. It was healing to write Poppy’s story, but I also can’t wait to write characters that aren’t like me at all. That was the fun part of all the side characters, too—getting to write people who were bolder and braver than me.
The manuscript that Poppy writes sounds like an exciting read. Any possibility of you writing a similar novel down the line?
Ha! I wondered if someone was going to ask me this. It sounds like a good read, right? I wouldn’t ever count out the possibility that I’ll write a thriller at some point. It sounds like an exciting challenge. And truthfully, the book Poppy ends up writing is exactly the kind of book I’d gravitate toward!
Is there a scene from the book that was your favorite to write?
I loved all the scenes with Poppy and Uncle Sebastian. Writing Seb was just such a joy because he’s got a zest for life that I think is rare and infectious. I also have a special affinity for the scene between Poppy and Joan on the plane. That’s one of the few that never got cut or changed from very early drafts. Joan has a special place in my heart!
The reveal about Margot was just what I was hoping for. Without giving away any spoilers for those who haven’t read the book yet, did you know you were going to make that revelation when you first started writing the book?
No! I didn’t. I don’t even believe it was in the first draft. I think it came to me in the revision process and I was like, OMG THAT IS AMAZING. Editing is such a gift because I love adding more and more layers to the story, which is really only possible during revision.
Your first nonfiction book was published last year, Radically Content, is being adapted into a feature film, how did you feel when you found out your work was going to make it to the big screen?
Disbelief at first, because it came together in Instagram DMs. Once it started looking like a reality, I just got so excited. Working with my producer and the screenwriter who is adapting the book has been incredibly fulfilling. I’ve always loved the interplay between book and screen so this felt like a natural next step! I finally understood why I had spent so many hours binge-watching shows. 😉
Speaking of feature films, if Main Character Energy was turned into a feature film, who would you imagine playing Poppy, Margot, Oliver and Sebastian?
Amazing question! Poppy would be Barbie Ferreira from Euphoria. Oliver would be Ben Barnes from Shadow & Bone. Margot would be Melissa McCarthy (even though Melissa is younger than Margot would be, I still think she would be a perfect fit). And Sebastian, I actually think Stanley Tucci would be perfect for Seb! Gosh, what a cast that would be. Let’s manifest this!
Are you currently working on your next novel, and if so, can we get a sneak peek?
I am, but I can’t disclose details quite yet! I try to keep my ideas very close to my chest when they’re in the incubation stages. But yes, expect plenty of books from me!