Jane Porter's Flirting with Forty - Apples to Oranges
In honor of Valentine’s Day, February’s blog post is dedicated to a wonderful Happily Ever After story. Flirting with Forty by Jane Porter was published in 2006 and quickly turned into a Lifetime Television movie in 2008.
The story is about Jackie Laurens finding a new love in a tropical paradise after a long marriage that ended with infidelity. Jackie is a single mother with two small children. When her ex-husband moves on with a younger girlfriend, Jackie has to rebuild her life and career. She is overwhelmed with the first post-divorce holidays and her upcoming 40th birthday. An unexpected Hawaiian vacation and a chance encounter with a sexy surfer turns Jackie’s world around.
This novel struck a chord with her readership. Flirting with Forty celebrated women who have experienced divorced and felt directionless. Jane Porter told women they are still desirable at any age and let her readers enjoy the twist of May-December romance between a younger man and a mature woman that turns into true love.
I have read this book several times but it wasn’t until I actually turned 40 that this book took on a whole new meaning. Not to say that I’m having a mid-life crisis and have booked a ticket to Hawaii but I feel like I’m open to new adventures like Jackie.
Which version did I enjoy best? Drum roll please…. The Book!
Even though I could watch the movie many times just for the Hawaiian location shots of the beach, waterfalls, and surfing, the movie doesn’t capture the peak emotions of the novel. There are always changes to a story to better suit a film adaption. In this translation to a movie, there were significant changes to the story:
1) The Ex-Husband: The movie glosses over the major conflicts with her ex-husband and his mind games. He enjoys dating a younger woman but becomes spiteful when Jackie starts dating a younger man. Readers empathized with Jackie putting her children above her own happiness when she breaks up with her surfer boyfriend to make everyone else around her happy.
2) The Pregnancy: In the movie, the ex-husband has a new extended family storyline. In the book, it’s Jackie who suffers a miscarriage and the personal isolation of that experience. Again and again, Jackie tries not to burden others with her issues so when Kai puts her first, the audience is overjoyed for her happily ever after.
It’s the 10 year anniversary of Lifetime airing Flirting with Forty. Women are drawn to this story for the inspiration to build another chapter in their post-divorce lives.
It is with great pleasure that I conclude this blog post with a short Q&A with Jane Porter. I have been lucky to meet her at several author events and I have always wanted to know what her experience was like to have her novel turned into a movie.
When you were writing Flirting with Forty, did you ever imagine that it would be turned into a movie?
I didn't, but it was so very visual in my head--the scenes just popped, one after the other--and so as soon as I had a clean copy of the story, I sent it to a contact in the film industry and she loved it, and thought it would work well for film. A few months later it was optioned and within a year it was in production. It really happened quickly and I was grateful to be invited on set for a week to watch filming in Hawaii.
Who was the first person you told that your book was going to be movie?
My then boyfriend (now husband) 'surfer Ty'.
How did you celebrate this career achievement?
I don't remember how I celebrated...probably had to wait until I was next in Hawaii to see Ty so we could go to dinner. But I do know the biggest 'high point' for me was the night my producer friend called me and said to turn to Lifetime, and I did, and they were playing a trailer for FLIRTING WITH FORTY, and the music was Adele's Chasing Pavements and I just got total chills. I was so excited. Seeing the trailer made it real.
What scenes were you (and your fans) most excited to see in the movie?
For me, it was probably the scenes where Kai was trying to teach Jackie to surf! They shot the film on beaches I knew, and Ty and I were extras in a couple beach scenes, and I really loved that, as it made the whole thing very personal and special. I also loved meeting Heather Locklear. She was really nice and worked so hard.
What advice do you have for other authors who are trying to get their book turned into a movie?
Put it out there--but don't bank on it.
I've had five other books optioned and three have been turned into scripts, but they weren't greenlighted. Two books are still under option right now so maybe they could still be developed, but I'm not holding my breath. It's fantastic when it happens, but its never a sure thing, and more then a bit of luck. Almost everything I've had developed though, happened because I got behind the book and helped pitch it and didn't wait for someone else to make things happen.
The movie aired in 2008. When was the last time you viewed it?
Probably 2009. I have it on DVD but I'm not someone who watches movies more then once. And I haven't read the book since it was published....maybe it's time I reread it!
What other Jane Porter novel would you like to become a movie?
I really love my story, Christmas at Copper Mountain. It's not one of the ones currently optioned but I think it'd be beautiful!
Jane Porter is an American author of contemporary romance and women's fiction. She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five titles, with over 12 million books in print, in 20 languages and in 25 countries. Her novel Flirting with Forty was made into the Lifetime movie of the same name starring Heather Locklear. In 2014, she received the Romance Writers of America RITA Award for Best Romance Novella for Take Me, Cowboy. Her latest novel is Miracle on Chance Avenue, the second story in her Love on Chance Avenue series. (Insert link to her website Home - Jane Porter
Columnist: Jessie lives in Oregon and writes to avoid the rain. She only feels compelled to kill her characters when she starts a new diet and if she hates the ending of a TV episode she’ll rewrite it to give everyone a happily ever after. Currently Jessie is an unpublished author but she works tirelessly to removed two letters – un – from that word.
Column book and movie tape drawn by Evangeline Owen