From Cuddle Bug’s review of “Verity” in A Kind of Mad Courage on Amazon.com: The ending of one of my favorite stories, ‘Verity’ by Wendy Janes, about an aging woman in the UK, made me cry from surprise and possibility. I won’t spoil the story but say that the skillful denouement, and the general short story plot included a sort of lovely misdirection (whether intentional or unintentional) which meant I was surprised and truly touching in reading the ending. The prose pacing and ambiance of that story really flowed and gave me a sense of being there.
From Terry Tyler’s review of “Verity” in A Kind of Mad Courage on Amazon.com: …my other joint favourite! So touching, really moving, I loved it.
Joy E’s review of “The Stars They Never Own” in Romantic Heroes on Amazon.co.uk: …my favourite story within the anthology, by far…. The Author managed to draw me into the story so quickly and the twist at the end was absolutely charming. To construct a story like this in so few words is no mean feat and Ms. Janes should be complimented. I hope that she continues to write and look forward to reading more by her in the future.
I met my guest today in some way a time ago. I don’t always remember how I meet people ever since an accident brought about short and long term amnesia. For a History teacher and Author this is a frustrating thing. I tell you this only so you understand that my first meeting with today’s guest was not a case of not being memorable, just a case of me being the current me. A joy of a friend and social media supporter. A very accommodating person. Meet . . .
RW: We’ve known each other for a little while, and for some reason I never think of people being in places, I just think of names, faces, and words, but now it’s time to expose you to the world. Where are you from?
WENDY: I’ve always lived in the south of England. I was born and brought up in the leafy Surrey countryside, and I now live in a less leafy suburb of south London. I love being so close to the vibrancy and history of London.
RW: I swear I am like a British magnet. What is it about Britain and me? Is it the Scot in me? With that in mind what is your favorite beverage?
WENDY: Chilled champagne if I’m celebrating. A cup of Earl Grey if it’s afternoon teatime.
RW: You are fully British so let’s see, tell us who your favorite authors are?
WENDY: Oooh, that’s so difficult to answer. I’ll pick two from the past – Graham Greene and E. M. Forster – and two from the present – Maggie O’Farrell and Jon McGregor. Brilliant writers whose stories take me to wonderful places in my head.
RW: And there you go the British package complete Four from the British Isles. Let’s get into why you are here. First, what is the genre you would say your book falls into and why do you write in that genre?
WENDY: Contemporary women’s fiction. They say “write what you know” – so I do. I love to write about the people we meet every day; to delve into their private lives and reveal the depths below. It never ceases to amaze me how ordinary life is so extraordinary.
RW: You told me there is a conflict within you that you are striving to resolve. You must resolve this or never complete your novel. Why can’t you name your novel?
WENDY: Ah, I wish I could give you give you a straightforward answer to this question. You’ve no idea how many hours I’ve spent trying to summon up the perfect title for my novel. I have two front-runners at present – What Jennifer Knows and Take Two. The first captures the central dilemma of my lead character. The second is more subtle and works at a number of different levels. When readers reach a pivotal scene (my favourite) they’ll “get” the full ramifications of the second title. Oooh, which to go for…?
RW: Perhaps a Take Two: What Jennifer Knows? Tell us a little about your book and what inspired it and perhaps that will give as the reason for such a dilemma.
WENDY: Jennifer unwittingly stumbles across some information that she’d really rather not know: two of her friends who don’t know each other have more than Jennifer in common. She has to decide whether to speak out or not, and as the weeks roll by, things become more complicated, making her situation even more difficult.
A similar experience happened to my parents, but with far less drama involved. Many discussions around the family dinner table about what happened, and what might have occurred if things had panned out differently, led to my father suggesting it would make a good story for me to write. I eagerly took up the challenge. Essentially, my story is an exploration of all the tantalising “what ifs” that didn’t happen in the real-life story.
RW: What do you think will make your main characters connect to readers, which is key to a books success?
WENDY: Jennifer is a dance therapist. Her natural empathy for her students and her friends mean she’s excellent at her job and a trusted friend. It’s her kindness and her genuine wish to do the right thing that (I hope) readers will relate to. She also has a wonderfully eccentric husband, Gerald. Their relationship provides a lot of the comic and heartfelt moments in the book.
RW: Describe your book in one word.
WENDY: English. I hope I’m allowed to explain my choice. The setting, characters and feel of the book is very English – mannered and peppered with self-deprecating humor. It’s set during the 2012 Olympics and touches on the incredible wave of positive feeling that swept the country at that time.
RW: What message do you think your book delivers to the reader?
Jennifer would say: “When life gets complicated, do your best.”
Gerald would say: “When life gets complicated, hang on to your sense of humor.”
I’ve connected to Wendy everywhere now it’s your turn. I can tell you that she is a great social media friend. She has really helped with many of the Tweets and Google+ things I put out. Seeing what she does reminds me of techniques I’ve forgotten. (Remember I am the amnesiac author and poet.)
My proofreading website is: http://wendyproof.co.uk/
Facebook: Wendy Janes
Google +: Wendy Janes
Linkedin: Wendy Janes
Goodreads: Wendy Janes
If you’ve visited before you know I have different types of questions, now we move into more shall I call them different types of questions. (Yes, I tried to come up with something funny but failed.)
RW: What is your escape when writing just is driving you a bit mad?
WENDY: Chocolate. It helps soothe so many of life’s problems.
RW: What is your favorite word?
**I see a pattern here.**
RW: What is your background in writing, what makes you a writer?
WENDY: I’ve spent many years writing journal entries (private) and book reviews (public), so I’d say that’s my background in writing. Then, five years ago I was sitting with my friend in her kitchen and our conversation turned to the lack of good books with well-written sex scenes in them, and on the spur of the moment we decided to write our own. We had a fantastic couple of years developing our characters and our story, and it was a good test of our friendship to negotiate how two very different writers could collaborate. Eventually we self-published Living Lives: Living Lies by Ruth Allen. Alas, the book didn’t take the world by storm as we’d imagined while scribbling away at the dining room table. I’m happy to report that we’re still very good friends, although my days of writing erotic fiction are over. The whole experience introduced me to self-publishing and helped me find my own writing voice. I now write short stories and am working on a novel that I’m planning to self-publish in 2015.
RW: What other books do you have to share with us and can you tell us a little about them?
WENDY: My short story “Verity” features in A Kind of Mad Courage, a selection of stories about motherhood, written to raise money for the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation. Another short story, “The Stars They Never Own” appears in the anthology, Romantic Heroes. Although they are stories about very different people (a retired woman in her seventies and an actor in his thirties), both have their poignant and their funny moments.
**But Wendy isn’t just about her own fiction writing and anthologies, collections or even her own full length novel. There is a more personal work out there with her name on the cover.**
As a family we self-published my grandfather’s memoir in 2014. The One and Sixpenny Englishman tells of my grandfather’s arrival in England as a baby at the turn of the twentieth century, his experience in the First World War, and his eclectic choice of occupations. It’s a little slice of personal history told in words and family photos.
RW: Do you currently have representation? If so who, and if not describe what qualities you would like in an agent and what you would bring to the relationship.
WENDY: No I don’t currently have representation. My agent would need to be patient, honest, supportive, motivated, professional, and creative. And so would I.
RW: What are you working on right now?
WENDY: In addition to What Jennifer Knows/Take Two, I’m also working on a couple of short stories. One of them is a departure from my usual relationship-based drama, and is an absurd comedy. It’s making me laugh. Let’s hope it will make readers laugh too.
RW: What book are you reading at this time?
WENDY: ‘I’ve just finished reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. I laughed. I cried. I didn’t want it to end.’.
RW: Uh oh, an Australian invades Great Britain’s literary territory! So I have to ask, if you could have written any book that exists, other than your own, what would it be and why?
WENDY: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor. His poetic prose is beautiful.
RW: What is your biggest tip for someone to getting published?
WENDY: I’m a proofreader, so I have to declare that my biggest tip is: “Get your book edited and proofread, please!”
Here’s a lovely little trailer we made for Living Lives: Living Lies
Wendy Janes, more than an Author. Yes, today was about her upcoming full length novel, but what I personally took away was something else. She’s authentic. Wendy, as I said before helps out with the little things at times with some Social Media retweets, Tweets, Google+ shout outs, and the like. Some do that to make connections in the business. Anyone that writes and works so much to put out a book about their grandfather is, to me at least, the real thing. To be honest if I had .99 to spare the book would be in my Kindle library already. Talking with Wendy outside of this interview I have discovered she only does something that she can give her all to. That’s the kind of Author I want to read. Connect with her everywhere, buy anything she is involved with and as always . . .
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