Welcome back, Janet.
How time flies by. You were my guest back in 2014!
Wow – is it really that long? It’s great to be back chatting to you again.
Since then a lot has happened – how have you found working during lockdown? Has it been a challenge to stay focused; mentally and physically?
2020 was a tough year for everyone. This year hasn’t started too well either, but I am holding on to hope that things are getting better – even if it’s a bit slow. The big change for me has been my husband working from home. Luckily we’ve managed to make him a small office at the other end of the house, as far away from my office as possible, so we don’t disturb each other too often when we’re working. But we do miss our Sunday walks that seemed to always end with a nice lunch at some pretty rural pub.
It has been hard to stay focussed, although writing is a great escape for me. And deadlines are a great motivator. I have kept to my schedule, but it’s been slighter harder work than in the past.
How much has changed in your writing world since we first chatted?
So much… it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve just had my 14th book released. Close To Home is a story of two strong matriarchs in one small country town. I think it’s my favourite book. But I say that about every new book.
I have given up my ‘day job’ and am now a full time writer and writing tutor, which is the achievement of a long held dream.
And I’m now contracted to Harper Collins (Harlequin) Australia, who are just the best publishers I’ve ever worked with.
What have been the highlights?
So many highlights…. some of them are as simple as suddenly having that lightbulb moment when I’m struggling with a scene or a book. The big ones? Let’s see…
In 2017 I won the RNA’s Epic Romantic Novel of The Year award for Little Girl Lost. To receive such an award from an organisation that means so much to me was a real honour – even if Prue Leith did pronounce my name wrong when she announced it.
Finally writing the Wuthering Heights re-imagining I’ve always wanted to do. Heathcliff’s story set against the Thatcher years and the miners’ strike. I co-wrote this with my friend Alison May and I remain so very proud of it.
Meeting and signing with my agent, Julia Silk – who has turned my writing world around. And in the same breath, signing with my Australian publisher, and meeting my editor Rachael Donovan. Only virtually so far, but one day we will get to meet in person. There will be cake.
You are now the organiser of the RNA’s amazing New Writers Scheme – please share what a challenging and yet rewarding experience this is?
For those who don’t know about it, it’s a scheme which gives 300 unpublished authors a chance to have a manuscript read by a experienced published author, who will offer some guidance on how to become a better writer and achieve that goal of publication. I graduated from the scheme more than a decade ago, and have been a reader for many years. Now I organise it. It’s very time consuming, but I love doing it… its nice to give something back for the help I received.
The hardest part is matching a new writer with the reader who can help them the most. And the very best part is when I get an email from a new writer who had been offered a publishing deal. That means so much to me and to the readers.
What are you working on now?
I’m deep in edits for book number 15. The working title is The Librarian’s Daughter and it’s scheduled for release in 2022. It’s based around a mobile library in rural Australia… just like the one that used to call on my little community. And in some ways, it’s also a tribute to all the books I read and loved as I was growing up.
It’s a complex book, structurally. I’m trying to ensure that, for the reader, it doesn’t seem complex at all – but flows smoothly from one moment to the next.
What is next for Janet?
Hopefully, soon, a trip back to Australia. More books of course. I have been playing with a couple of ideas for very different books to my rural stories. I’ll always write those rural stories of course, because I love them so much. But maybe there’s room for something else too.
And one of these days – a long Sunday walk followed by a nice pub lunch.
Congratulations on your many successes and best wishes for all your future projects!
Thanks for stopping by again, Janet.