A love story

The write stuff: Au­thor Jill Land­grebe flips through a copy of her nov­el, Lar­kin’s Let­ters, in her Grant Av­en­ue home. MARIA POUCH­NIKOVA / TIMES PHOTO

Jill Land­grebe comes back home after work each day and does what most people do — eats din­ner with her fam­ily and re­laxes.

Some of us watch TV; some of us read. To re­lax, Land­grebe goes down to the base­ment of her Grant Av­en­ue house, clears off her desk and writes.

“I do my best writ­ing at that time,” she said.

Cur­rently, Land­grebe is work­ing on her second book, a se­quel to her first, Lar­kin’s Let­ters, which was pub­lished in June.

Lar­kin’s Let­ters is “a heart­warm­ing love story — with some tra­gic ele­ments,” said Land­grebe dur­ing a Sept. 27 in­ter­view in her home.

The two main char­ac­ters, Ry­an Boone and Lar­kin James, are two child­hood friends who are deeply in love, she said. Their story is de­veloped through a series of let­ters, said Land­grebe, who writes un­der the nom de plume of “Jax Jill­ian.”

On her web­site, Land­grebe said she de­cided to use a pen name to main­tain her pri­vacy and be­cause it was easi­er to pro­nounce and re­cog­nize.

It’s not really giv­ing away the plot to tell read­ers Lar­kin is dia­gnosed with leuk­emia and dies, and that the book re­counts Ry­an strug­gling with fre­quent vis­its from his wife’s ghost and the let­ters Lar­kin’s spir­it leaves be­hind. A pop­u­lar film act­or, Ry­an sac­ri­ficed his ca­reer to be by Lar­kin’s side dur­ing her ill­ness. Throughout her or­deal, Ry­an prom­ised his wife she would not die alone, but, as the book’s pub­li­city ma­ter­i­al says, “We learn that not all of our prom­ises are with­in our con­trol.”

The au­thor said there was no spe­cif­ic in­spir­a­tion for her first book.

“Writ­ing is an es­cape for me, and I love Nich­olas Sparks and James Pat­ter­son love stor­ies, so that’s the genre I chose,” she said.

But she has some spe­cif­ics on how she chose the names of her main char­ac­ters. Ry­an, she said, has al­ways been her fa­vor­ite male name. That’s why she chose it for the name of Lar­kin’s hus­band. It’s also why she chose to give the name to her son. Lar­kin, she said, was a name she heard on a TV show, and she liked it enough to use it for her tra­gic heroine.

Land­grebe, 36, grew up in sub­urb­an Har­ris­burg. She at­ten­ded La Salle Uni­versity for un­der­gradu­ate stud­ies and did her grad work at Temple U. She moved to North­east Philly in 2009 when she got mar­ried. She works as a phys­ic­al ther­ap­ist as­sist­ant. 

She began writ­ing her nov­el in May 2011. Land­grebe said she would work out plot ele­ments while “I’m ly­ing in bed, about to go to sleep.” Of­ten, too, she said, “Things will just hap­pen while I’m writ­ing.”

The book was com­plete by Janu­ary 2012, and she began shop­ping it around to lit­er­ary agents. An agent took Lar­kin’s Let­ters to Tate Pub­lish­ing and En­ter­prises in Mus­tang, Okla., and Tate re­leased the book on June 25.

The work­ing title for the se­quel she cur­rently is writ­ing is Ry­an’s Let­ters. 

Lar­kin’s Let­ters can be pur­chased on­line at Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s web­sites, and at the au­thor’s own site, ht­tp://jaxjill.word­press.com ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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