Jan Karon biography, plus links to book reviews and book excerpts from books by Jan Karon.

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Jan Karon

Jan Karon

Jan Karon Biography

Jan Karon was born in Lenoir, North Carolina, in 1937 ("A great year for the Packard automobile," she says). Her creative skills first came alive when her family moved to a farm. "On the farm there is time to muse and dream," she says. "I am endlessly grateful I was reared in the country. As a young girl I couldn't wait to get off that farm, to go to Hollywood or New York. But living in those confined, bucolic circumstances was one of the best things that ever happened to me."

Jan knew that she wanted to be a writer, and even wrote a novel at the age of ten. Her first real opportunity as a writer came at age eighteen when she took a job as a receptionist at an ad agency. She kept leaving her writing on her boss's desk until he noticed her ability. Soon she was launched on a forty-year career in advertising. She won assignments in New York and San Francisco, numerous awards, and finally an executive position with a national agency.

Recently she left advertising to write books, and moved to Blowing Rock, North Carolina, a tiny town of 1,800 perched at 5,000 feet in the Blue Ridge mountains.

"I immediately responded to the culture of village life," says Jan. "And I must say the people welcomed me. I have never felt so at home."

Blowing Rock is the model for Mitford, and the similarities are strong. "None of the people in Mitford are actually based upon anyone in Blowing Rock," says Jan. "Yet, the spirit of my characters is found throughout this real-life village. You can walk into Sonny's Grill in Blowing Rock and find the same kind of guys who hang around Mitford's Main Street Grill."

Jan is quick to assert that there are Mitfords all over the country, those hundreds of towns where readers of Jan's books cherish their own cast of eccentric and beloved characters.

Jan has a daughter, Candace Freeland, who is a photojournalist and musician.

Link to Jan's website

This biography was last updated on 08/10/2010.

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Interview

An Interview with Jan Karon

You write about the small town of Mitford, yet haven't you spent most of your life in cities?
Until I was twelve I lived in the country, then I spent many years in cities. I think that I was born with a kind of deep affinity for the rural, the rustic. In addition, I'm very drawn to the pastoral novels of the English genre -- the village novel where a small group is used to paint a picture of a larger society. I still have in me a great love for the agrarian -- for what this country was, for what we still are. People say, "Oh well, I guess there's no such thing as Mitford." Well, the good news is there are Mitfords all over the country, and there are still great stretches of open land and pastures and meadows and fields. It's not all bad news. There's so much left of this country that is reasonable and moral and strong. And that's the part I relate to.

You've often said how important a rural upbringing was for you. How has it influenced your writing?
On the farm there were long passages of time in which to observe. The senses are very important to me, and I try to bring the experience of the senses into my writing. And life on the farm is very graphic. Calves...

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Books by this Author

Books by Jan Karon at BookBrowse

Recommended in Detail at BookBrowse

In This Mountain
In This Mountain

by Jan Karon

Father Tim takes on a unique and difficult ministry, when an unexpected event propels him on a painful journey that shakes his faith, his marriage, and the whole town of Mitford.
Read More

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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Jan Karon but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Maeve Binchy

    Maeve Binchy

    Maeve Binchy was born in a small village outside Dublin. She spent her childhood in Dalkey, an experience she draws on today when creating the rural villages usually at the heart of her novels. After receiving her B... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A New Song

    Try:
    Tara Road
    by Maeve Binchy

  • Fannie Flagg

    Fannie Flagg

    Fannie Flagg’s career started in the fifth grade when she wrote, directed, and starred in her first play entitled The Whoopee Girls, and she has not stopped since. At age nineteen she began writing and producing ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A New Song

    Try:
    Welcome To The World, Baby Girl
    by Fannie Flagg

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