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The Land of Painted Caves was released Tuesday, March 29th, 2011!

Earth's Children Fans - Ayla, Jean Auel and YOU!

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Merry Christmas to you and yours from ECfans and Crown Publishers!

Jean Auel - photo by Aaron Johanson



Thank you to Crown Publishers for allowing Jean's fans here at to have the first peek at this interview!

Diane in Cincinnati
21 December 2010

A Conversation with
Jean M. Auel,
author of
The Land of Painted Caves

March 29, 2011, Crown Publishers

Crown Publishers: It’s been nearly nine years since THE SHELTERS OF STONE was published. What is it about writing these books that takes so long?

Jean Auel: I have no easy answer, I don’t really know. Sometimes living gets in the way, like going to a grandchild’s graduation or having friends over for dinner. Sometimes I procrastinate and can’t quite get myself started. Research takes time, both traveling and reading, but for the most part I enjoy it. I’ve worked all my life and so has my husband. There was a time when I was working at a full-time job, going to night school, and raising five children, but writing is the hardest work I’ve ever done.

CP: Where/when is your favorite place to write?

JA: When I first started writing, I worked at a typewriter on my kitchen table, but when my children left home to go to college, I changed a bedroom to an office. Now I have a nice big office with big windows that allow me to look in the distance to rest my eyes because I compose at the computer.

I usually write at night. I am a true night person. When the sun goes down, the brain turns on. I often watch the sun come up and then I go to bed. I sleep about eight hours out of every twenty-four, but I don’t do mornings well. Even when I was raising children or working a full-time day job, the hardest thing for me was getting up in the morning. When I have to, because we’re traveling or I have to be on a day schedule, I can change my hours around, but it means going without sleep for a while, and as soon as there are no more demands on my time and I can let my body follow its own natural rhythms, I’m up at night and sleeping in the daytime.

CP: How many drafts do you go through?

JA: When I was working on a typewriter, it was usually a half dozen or so. Now, because I work at a computer, it’s hard to keep track. When I start each day, I usually back up a page or two and rewrite it to get me in the writing mode, and occasionally I go back to the beginning of a chapter after I’ve finished it. Then I do a complete rewrite or more before I turn it in, and usually go through a half dozen afterward, with editorial suggestions, copy editor’s marks, checking the typesetting. Some sections take more work than others. I don’t mind rewriting. That’s when I get control of the story.

CP: Who is the first person who gets to read your manuscript?

JA: My husband, but only after I think it’s finished.

CP: What book is on your nightstand right now?

JA: There are none. I don’t read in bed. I read sitting in a chair, often at a table, which holds the book, or in a reclining chair with a footstool. As to what I’m reading, I don’t read much fiction when I’m writing it, although I love it. It’s the best part of promo tours, I can read on the airplane.

CP: What is the first book you remember reading?

JA: My first grade reader. I couldn’t wait to learn to read, and once I did, I was hardly ever without a book. I particularly liked fairy tales. In the middle grades I got into biographies. The first of those was the life of Anna Pavlova, the Russian ballet dancer.

CP: Did you always want to be a writer? If not, when did you realize that this was a career you wanted to pursue?

JA: No. I never dreamed I would be a writer and had no ambition to pursue it until I started writing THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR, although I did write poetry for about ten years before that, not necessarily for publication.

CP: Typewriter, laptop, or pen and paper?

JA: A full-size computer with a big screen that can show several pages, so I can also display research that I’ve entered into it.

CP: What did you do immediately after hearing that you were being published for the very first time?

JA: I wanted to shout from the house-tops, but no one was home. I called my husband at work, but the machine said, “He’s away from his desk.” I tried calling several friends. No one was available. I finally
called my father-in-law, who lived on the coast, about an hour and a half away. He was there but he didn’t quite seem to share my enthusiasm. I guess he did though. One of his neighbors was an editor at The Oregonian newspaper, and he told him. The next morning I received a phone call from a reporter who wanted to come over and interview me. The article took about three-quarters of the first page of the Living section, and Crown used it in its announcement letter.

CP: What is the best gift someone could give a writer?

JA: Uninterrupted time.

CP: What’s next for Jean Auel?

JA: I haven’t had time to think about it yet, but I will probably keep on writing as long as I am able.


Diane in Cincinnati © 2000