About the Book
Book: Joy After Noon
Author: Debra Coleman Jeter
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
Release Date: February 26, 2019
Joy marries a widowed bank executive caught in an ethical dilemma and misreads his obvious frustration while struggling to integrate into her new family. This novel explores the challenges of second marriages and dealing with step-children during the crucial years of puberty and teenage angst. A college professor coming up shortly for the huge tenure decision, Joy finds herself falling apart as her career and her home issues deteriorate and collide.
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About the Author
Debra Coleman Jeter has published both fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her first novel, The Ticket, was a finalist for a Selah Award, as well as for Jerry Jenkins’ Operation First Novel. Her story, “Recovery,” was awarded first prize in a short story competition sponsored by Christian Woman; and her nonfiction book “Pshaw, It’s Me Grandson”: Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several domestic and international awards. Joy After Noon is the first novel in her Sugar Sands series. She has taught at Murray State University, Austin Peay State University, and Vanderbilt University, where she is currently a Professor Emerita. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband.
More from Debra
Joy After Noon
With most of my novels, several forces come together to compel me to tell the story. This is definitely true of Joy After Noon. I thought I’d share a few of those.
Carl Jung says: “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.”Jung goes on to describe life’s afternoon as the time when we begin to shift away from the ego being the dominant force in our life and move toward a journey that has real meaning.
I also like the following quote: In the afternoon of your life, you don’t do life. You do what resonates with the callings of your soul. When does the afternoon of life begin? I don’t believe the afternoon of life begins at a particular age, or even stage of life. In JOY AFTER NOON, Ray has been pursuing career success and material acquisitions, and experiences a significant change of direction. Some fairly disastrous events in his workplace precipitate the change—events that threaten not only his financial stability but the core of who he is.
When I was a kid, I watched a movie called Joy in the Morning, starring Richard Chamberlain and Yvette Mimieux. This movie was about a young married couple, and the memory of it stayed with me for years. I remember thinking that whereas a typical romance ended when the couple got together or married, the really interesting story starts there. When I wrote Joy After Noon, I decided to focus on a couple that marry a bit later in life. He’s a widower with two teenage daughters. She’s an insecure college professor who has never been seriously romanced.
Initially, the idea for Sugar Sands Book 1 and the title of the novel, Joy After Noon, was that Joy’s life has been lonely (and joy has been elusive) since her parents died when she was sixteen, and she has about given up on finding love when she meets Ray. She comes into his ready-made family and, for a time, this seems like a mistake. However, in the afternoon of her life, she finds love and joy.
What inspired my characters:
There’s always a bit of myself in each of my characters from the least likable to the most. Here’s how I relate to some of the characters in Joy After Noon.
Joy is a college professor who has never been in love … until she meets the gorgeous widower Ray Jenkins. In the novel Joy struggles to adapt to her new family at the same time that she’s coming up for tenure as a college professor. I’ve been through the tenure process (with a husband and two kids at home), and I’ve seen a number of others struggle to balance career and family during this stressful process.
Ray, seemingly successful banker, finds himself facing ethical dilemmas as his associates negotiate a dubious merger and then try to hide the undesirable financial consequences. I’ve taught bankers, and I have coauthored a textbook on mergers and acquisitions. I’ve also seen former students caught in ethical crises at work.
Marianne has aspired all her life to please her demanding perfectionist mother, even after that mother’s death. She cannot live up to her own standards of perfectionism, either as a ballerina or as a cheerleader longing for popularity. I have not studied dance or cheerleading, but I remember being a perfectionist as a child taking piano lessons. I wanted to play a piece with no errors, and I almost never succeeded.
Jenny, the younger daughter, knows she could never come near to the example set by Marianne, so why try? Jenny plays clarinet in band. As she practices for tryouts, she has a loose pad, causing her horn to squeak rather than play properly. I was a clarinet player, and had this exact experience myself. Jenny becomes friends with a wild girl named Claudia, who leads her to trouble. I had a similar friend as a teenager, and she was even named Claudia. Claudia is a tragic figure in the novel, but not an unsympathetic one.
Although Joy After Noon is part of a series, each book in the series stands alone.
Song of Sugar Sands
Sugar Sands Book 2, Song of Sugar Sands, has recently been announced as a Finalist in the Christian Fiction category in the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
Mindy Houng’s Q&A with Debra Coleman Jeter
What does success as an author look like to you?
Having readers till me they were helped or moved by my story, that they identified with my characters and their dilemmas … this is what’s most gratifying to me as a writer.
Which character did you connect to best in this book?
There’s always a bit of myself in each of my characters from the least likable to the most. In Joy After Noon, the character I most identify with is Jenny, the younger daughter. Jenny knows she could never come near to the example set by her older sister, Marianne, so why try? Jenny plays clarinet in band. As she practices for tryouts, she has a loose pad, causing her horn to squeak rather than play properly. Naturally this happens on the last night before tryouts, and she has no idea what’s causing the problem. I was a clarinet player, and had this exact experience myself. Jenny becomes friends with a wild girl named Claudia, who leads her to trouble. I had a similar friend as a teenager, and she was even named Claudia. Claudia is a tragic figure in the novel, but not an unsympathetic one.
What inspired this book?
I have always admired the writing of Daphne du Maurier, who wrote Rebecca among others. I’ve read Rebecca more than once, and the idea of being a second wife captivated my imagination, even though I’ve only been married once.
My husband and I recently watched the movie, We Bought a Zoo. Although I wrote the first draft of my novel, Joy after Noon, before seeing the movie, one aspect resonated with me. Benjamin Mee, the character played by Matt Damon, is grieving the death of his wife. At one point he remarks to Kelly (Scarlett Johansson) that a love like his for his first wife only comes along once in a lifetime. By the end of the movie, Benjamin and Kelly have not exchanged more than a kiss. Still, the question comes to mind: What would it be like to be the second wife to someone who had loved that deeply?
On the one hand, you might think he’s capable of great love and would make a wonderful husband. On the other, you might fear you would never be able to live up to his expectations. How can you compete with a ghost? I have not experienced this situation myself, but some of my readers undoubtedly have. I would love to hear of your experience.
In my novel, Joy is the second wife of a widower. Not a great beauty, Joy lacks self-confidence, especially in the domestic realm. Much of the plot hinges on her failure to express her fears and Ray’s failure to articulate his feelings. Like many men, he assumes she knows how he feels, and she’s not secure enough to tell him that she needs to hear it from his lips.
This type of communication problem isn’t limited to second marriages but extends to many first marriages (or even third) as well. Nor is it limited to one sex or the other. Too often we assume our partner knows our needs, or knows how we feel; and, too often, they do not.
Another complication that often arises in second or third marriages is the relationship between the children and their new step-mother. Ray’s step-daughters resolve to bring Joy down, and for a time their plan seems to be working—until it backfires with dire, unforeseen consequences.
What is your favorite Bible verse or life verse?
“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1st Corinthians 13: 12-13
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Washington Square by Henry James. I so want things to work out for the sweet Catherine Sloper, though her father seems determined to thwart her. My husband and I often agree on books and authors, but Henry James is one where we agree to disagree. My husband thinks he’s boring. I think he’s fascinating.
Thank you, Debra, for allowing us to get to know you better!
For Him and My Family, August 17
lakesidelivingsite, August 18
Splashes of Joy, August 19 (Author Interview)
Locks, Hooks and Books, August 20
Artistic Nobody, August 21 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Inklings and notions, August 22
Simple Harvest Reads, August 23 (Author Interview)
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 24
Ashley’s Bookshelf, August 26
Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 27 (Author Interview)
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 28
Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, August 29 (Author Interview)
deb’s Book Review, August 29
Texas Book-aholic, August 30
To celebrate her tour, Debra is giving away the grand prize package of a $20 Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.