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An Interview with Jan Peppler, author of Finding Home

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Jan Peppler is a public speaker, workshop leader, and writer who earned her PhD in Mythological Studies and Depth Psychology. She has lived in twenty-four homes in twelve different towns and cities, not including the old train stop house she is renovating in Castelvetrano, Sicily. Jan currently resides in the Wood River Valley of Idaho, where her husband was born and raised, along with their two dogs.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

My doctoral dissertation, The Psychology of Home: An Archetypal Study of Relationship to Place, was inspired by the need to understand why, as a single woman in my forties, I bought a house in rural Idaho that truly felt like my forever home and then ten years later felt like it was holding me back. Throughout my research, I spoke with others who wanted to know the same things:

Why do some places and people feel more like home than others? And how do we create home as adults, especially when family or jobs no longer dictate where we must live? The answers I found were liberating and brought me “home” to two places I would never have previously considered. These same discoveries have been tested on hundreds of others and always lead to delightful revelations. Naturally, I want to share these insights that can be helpful to so many.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Finding Home has always felt like the right title, which is why it is also the name of my weekly newsletter on Substack. The subtitle is much more difficult. I’ve spent years trying to nail this down. I have a library of antique books and love how they all have very long subtitles. Today, however, something short and direct is expected. At the moment, my subtitle is wordy but on point: Understanding the psychology of home by identifying the unique imprints that are at the heart of what home is for you. For marketing purposes, I imagine this being completely different. Perhaps even something that emphasizes the memoir aspect that is included in the book.

Describe your dream book cover.

This is tricky as any photo or illustration of home may not reflect what home is to someone else, even archetypally. Advanced readers of earlier edits have encouraged me to include more of my own personal journey in finding home, which led to purchasing a house in Italy. With that in mind, now I can imagine my cover possibly including a photo of me in front of the home that made me determined to live there.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

This is a great question! I’ve had a playlist for several years now. There are a few songs I would really like to use in my book, as they are great illustrations for concepts I explore, but gaining permission to use lyrics is nearly impossible. Some of the songs that resonate strongly with my writing include:

“The House That Built Me” performed by Miranda Lambert; “Home” by Brandi Carlile, though I’m also partial to the recording from the Glee cast; “Home Again” by Elton John (2013); the iconic “Home Again” by Carole King; “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver; and “Almost Home” by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I spent over twenty-five years in non-profit development. I began my career in HIV/AIDS social services and then moved into environmental conservation. It was during the latter that I began examining my love of rural places with mountains, hills, rivers, and deciduous trees.

My real dream, however, had been to be a college professor, which is why I got my Ph.D. I taught for two and a half years as an adjunct. Full-time professorships in the Humanities—particularly religion, mythology, and survey courses of the arts—are incredibly difficult to come by these days. Then, after the Covid-19 pandemic and the worldwide focus on being home, I decided to make writing my top priority.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Typically, a table inside with a window looking out. I need to see nature of some sort while I’m writing, and I need quiet.

I was editing a draft of this book while in Sicily during Covid-19 lockdown, in an apartment that looked out at the Tyrrhenian Sea. It was beautiful and I was so fortunate to be there. But after eight weeks, the expansive blue water was not calming, and I was desperate for trees and a green landscape. As soon as the lockdown was lifted, I headed to a cabin and then a cottage, both inland. This was further confirmation of my research that revealed my childhood imprints of home. But wherever I am, at the very least, there must be a window with a view, and a table for me to write.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

I hope my readers will have Aha! moments similar to those that happen during my workshops and client sessions. My reader is not someone who is looking for design tips or easy solutions. Instead, my readers are interested in examining their lives and applying my theories to find their own answers. This takes a little bit of work. Most often, it’s an exciting process, but sometimes it can be difficult. Finding home is not one size fits all; we each have our own affinities. Understanding what our preferences are (which is not always obvious) and how they came to be can help us make better decisions about how and where we live. Ultimately, I hope my readers are inspired.

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