How did you get started?
In 1983 I started writing seriously when a friend asked me to read a few pages from a historical romance she was writing. I told her what I thought about it and she asked me to help her write the book. We did finish it and sent it to an agent who was kind and sent the manuscript back with a detailed account of what was wrong with it - and there was plenty wrong with it! My friend went on to other things while I found that I loved writing and did not want to stop.
Did you always want to be an author?
No, I didn't. My father was a writer too. He wrote every weekend for as long as I can remember, though I never thought of writing myself when he was alive, apart from one rainy day in sixth grade which I spent writing a story and enjoyed doing so. But I was so self-conscioius about my spelling difficulties that I didn't think I could write seriously.
What type of stories do you write and how many books have you written?
I have written many short stories which I like writing. They are quick to write and I find it fun to compact everything into one small story that can stand on its own. I have found that my love is writing children's stories and doing the illustrations myself. I have ten stories written that need illustrations and two are teen novels that are yet unfinished. I have two published books so far.
How do you know that an idea is worth following?
I don't know. I just start working on a project and researching the topics I need to know about to write the story and in most cases, I finish it.
How do you create your characters?
I really can't say. They just come to me and none of them are based on people I know.
How long does it take you to write and illustrate a book?
That always depends on what is going on around me. As I said earlier, most of my stories I wrote a while ago, but I think most of them took a few months and even up to eight months for the longer stories.
My newly published book, The Great Snowball Escapade, is a chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds which I wrote in 1989. I just finished the illustrations which took about 6 months fitting them in around my family, work, cooking and pets (who all come first).
Have you had any formal art training?
Not really, although I had art for 4 years in high school and have taken many art classes along the way.
What's the hardest thing for you to draw?
People. I have to study faces for a long time and even then I might get them wrong.
Do you have any hobbies that you like to do besides writing?
Yes, I love reading, drawing and painting, and I play a little piano (very little) and gardening. I enjoy making things grow. I have found that hobbies can take me out of my problems. Sometimes you need to stop thinking about your problems to get perspective on them. Hobbies can do that.
What are you working on right now?
I have just finished The Great Snowball Escapade and will be starting paintings for another of my stories soon. It is a story about a boy who wants a puppy but gets a dog that is older. It's what they do together that makes them pals.
Do you have a website and a place where readers can purchase your books?
Yes. My website is Book Garden Publishing and both my children's books, Janoose the Goose and The Great Snowball Escapade can be bought at Amazon and B&N, as well as ordered in many bookstores.
If you could give one piece of advice to every new writer, what would it be?
The best advice I can give is what I was told by writers and English professors I have met. Edit, edit and re-edit. Editing is one thing authors must take seriously, never overlooking its importance.
Please call back in a few days time for a review of Jan's latest book.