Beach reads: Rancho Santa Fe author prepares to launch next book in Seabreeze Inn series
When she is writing, Rancho Santa Fe author Jan Moran becomes fully immersed in her characters, diving into her “sun-soaked” beach books and historical fiction sagas.
Her most popular books have been her beach series, the Seabreeze Inn and Coral Cottage series, both set in the fictional California community of Summer Beach, which have landed on USA Today’s Bestseller lists. Her eighth book in her Seabreeze Inn series, “Seabreeze Reunion”, is slated for an Aug. 30 release, continuing the story of Ivy and the historical old home full of secrets that she renovates into a beachside B&B with her sister.
Her latest historical fiction book “The Chocolatier” was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2020. Set in the early 1950s, it tells the story of a heartbroken widow and chocolate maker who takes her son to Italy to meet her late husband’s family.
Talk to Moran about writing and her passion for storytelling will spill forward. A prolific writer, since 2015 she has published 25 fiction books.
“I really enjoy what I do and I am enjoying this chapter of my life,” Moran said. “I’ve dreamed of writing all of my life and to have come to it after the age of 50, and to hopefully have a full career ahead of me, I know how fortunate I am.”
Moran moved to Rancho Santa Fe in September 2021 from Beverly Hills. She had lived in Carlsbad years before and is originally from Austin, Texas.
“I have always written,” said Moran, who started writing poetry in elementary school and attempted her first novel when she was in the seventh grade. She said her late mother Jeanne was her first editor—Jeanne told Jan never to stop writing and her mother still pops up hidden in a character in almost every book she writes.
Moran took a detour from writing as she pursued a career in finance and fashion after graduating from University of Texas, Austin and attending Harvard Business School.
Always fascinated by stories of entrepreneurs in the beauty business and in perfumery, she wrote a non-fiction book “Fabulous Fragrances” that was sold in department stores such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. The book led to her creation of Scentsa, a touch-screen fragrance finder program for retailers and brands that she sold to Sephora. Her fragrance and skincare software programs FragranceIQ and SkinIQ were also used in stores across the U.S. and in Canada, France, Mexico, Brazil and Denmark.
Her first novel took 15 years to write as she was busy doing other things. Published in 2015, “The Scent of Triumph”, tells the story of a French perfumer separated from her husband and son during World War II who is forced to flee to America to start over.
She self-published “Scent of Triumph” and after she found an agent, the book was published by St. Martin’s Press. Known as a hybrid author, her books are published by traditional publishing houses like St. Martin’s and independently under her own imprint, Sunny Palms Press. A nod to her business side, her imprint allows her to keep the rights and control to her books; she also produces her own audiobooks. She has a publishing deal with Random House in Germany and her work has been translated into languages such as German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, Lithuanian, Polish and Bulgarian.
“To me, readers are friends,” she said. “When I’m writing, I’m telling a story to my friends.”
Since that first book, writing has become easier as she has strengthened her writer’s toolkit. She lives by the saying “What gets measured gets done” and most days she gives herself a word count of 1,000 words to write. She writes at her home office, in bed, at the beach or at a coffee shop (a favorite spot is outside the aviary at Flower Hill Promenade). She prefers writing anywhere with a view, frequently taking writers’ retreats where she can just focus on her work.
“I write a lot about characters who have to remake their lives,” she said. “When life blows up, that’s where the story is.”
She is inspired by family histories and how it informs an individual’s values and shapes who they are. “I love family secrets,” she added, noting most of her books unravel some deeply hidden, game-changing family gem.
In addition to the beach series, her five-book “Love, California” series draws on her experiences in fashion and travel, starring jet-setting characters in the fashion industry who spirit away to international locales while navigating challenges in love and business and, of course, plenty of suspenseful secrets.
Moran likes to write about relationships but she wouldn’t categorize her books as strictly romance—there are romantic elements that complement her stories but the woman always has another critical goal in her life, bigger than just getting the guy.
Moran is also fascinated by history and a lot of time and careful research goes into writing her historical sagas. She enjoys the challenge of putting the puzzle pieces together, connecting her fictional characters with real-life events: “Hepburn’s Necklace” is about a woman from Texas working on the set of “Roman Holiday” with Audrey Hepburn while “The Winemakers” tells the story of a family-owned vineyard in the 1950s Napa.
Bits of history also make it into her beach books: the SS Monte Carlo, the shipwrecked casino ship that operated during the Prohibition era off the coast of Coronado, figures into the story of “Seabreeze Shores”, the seventh book in her Seabreeze Inn series.
Moran likes writing about women and her multi-generational tales compare and contrast how opportunities for women have changed over the years and the various struggles faced at different points in history, including access to education and employment and the right to vote. “Look up Switzerland,” she says of the country where women didn’t gain the right to vote until 1971.
Personally, Moran vividly remembers going to the bank with her grandmother to open her first bank account, her grandmother stressing how momentous it was to have an account in her own name, an opportunity she hadn’t always had herself.
“I don’t want women to forget how far we have come,” Moran said. “And I hope we continue to go forward.”
Moran has an active social media following and the pandemic has brought her closer to her readers than ever. She has loved Zooming with book clubs and participating virtually in many author events. She appreciates the instant feedback of the online community, being able to know what they are responding to and what they think.
She is grateful for her readers as they inspire her to continue storytelling. Originally she had only meant for Seabreeze Inn to be a trilogy but people loved the books so much and kept asking for more. Now on the eighth book in the series, she was more than happy to dream up another chapter of her characters’ lives.
“That’s my mission in life, to try to lighten the load for people, to bring in some light, some happiness and an escape from the burdens we have every day… even if it’s just for a little while,” Moran said.
Moran’s books are available in print, ebook, large print and audiobook editions. Find out more at JanMoran.com
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