What inspired you to become an author?
I’ve been writing stories all my life, for really as long as I can remember. And I’ve always wanted to share them with others. Quite a few friends from high school remember me simply because I wrote a lot and then asked them to read what I’d written. So I feel becoming an author was a foregone conclusion.
Even in my “real job” I became a writer and was actually a published author of IT technical documents and User Guides long before I was an author of fictional works.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I do write in different styles but have found writing in the first person narrative is my favourite style to use. However, this has its own difficulties when you’re doing it for different books and characters. As in, Bonnie from my first book Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics is a very different character to that of Stephanie from Isis, Vampires and Ghosts –Oh My! And I really have to separate myself from them before I can write the like other character. As I can’t have Stephanie go all Bonnie on me and vice versa.
I do also write in the third person a lot, but to me it doesn’t flow as easily as first person narrative.
How did you come up with the title for your latest book?
The story’s original title was actually The Darkness within but I kept calling is Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! as a joke because of all the characters in it and as a play on words to the Wizard of Oz quote ‘Lions and tigers and bears – Oh My!’
Everyone seemed to like the new title better and it just seemed to stick. And has now spawned a whole series with titles that are also joke versions of the Wizard of Oz such as There’s no place like Hell which is the second book in the series.
Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?
My stories always get given a title before I start writing them. Simply so I can tell which one is which (as there are just so many trying to get out of my head). However, the title they are given at the start isn’t always the one they end up with. See the previous questions for one example. Another is that my first book was originally titled Maths Story. No one wanted it. When my current publisher did accept it, it was on the understanding that the title had to be changed as it was terrible. So it ended up as Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics instead. Has the different title helped? Who knows!
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
As much as I do write to be entertaining more than pass on a message or lesson, I would have to say my book is telling you that family is important. No matter what they put you through, no matter how terrible they can make your life, you are a part of them and that is a bond you can’t break. That and we all need to look into the Darkness inside ourselves and see if we can let it go and let some Light shine in. Too weird?
What books/authors have influenced your life?
As I have been an avid reader all my life I would have to say all books I’ve read have influenced me in some way or another. Though it was Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody series that introduced me to the first person narrative of a strong female lead who is often sarcastic. So will give her the credit to starting my love of that style.
Authors of the supernatural/ urban fantasy genre such as Kim Harrison, Katie MacAlister and MaryJanice Davidson have helped me see how possible writing that sarcastic style in a favourite genre can be.
But in the last couple of years it’s actually been authors such as Ann Cleeves, Cath Staincliffe and Michael Jecks (all crime writers) who have helped me the most as they’ve almost mentored me in a way. They’ve helped point me in the right direction on how to pitch to publishers, how to write a synopsis and even given my work a review. It proves that just because you write crime, that doesn’t make you a nice person in real life.
What book are you reading now?
I hope it doesn’t get me thrown out of the ‘I love supernatural genres’ club, but I’m currently reading The Queen’s Head by Edward Marston. Historic crime fiction is another favourite genre of mine and I recently found a whole stash of his work available through my local library as eBooks and so I’ve been working my way through them all.
What books are in your to read pile?
Besides the stash of Edward Marston’s, I’ve been getting a craving to re-read my collection of MaryJanice Davidson’s ‘Queen Betsy’ series. I don’t own all of that series yet but have a good pile to keep me amused for a month or so and it is a seriously funny vampire series. I’ve already re-read them a few times since I started collecting them, and I do love a book you can re-read and still enjoy.
What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on the second book in my Other World series, There’s no place like Hell and have already jotted down a few scenes for the third book We represent the Demon Guild. I’ve also started making notes on a possible Bonnie’s Story sequel (as so many loved my ‘Blog like Bonnie’ moments on Facebook). Finally, I’m trying my hand at cosy crime and have been working on a murder mystery series set in a fictional town in my beloved Adelaide Hills. I’m hoping to get the first book in that series finished next year. Mount Loxley Murder Mysteries: the Autumnal Artist.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write what you know. This doesn’t mean base everything on events from your life and things that you’ve experienced. What I mean is to write in a genre you are comfortable with, one that you have read a lot. As reading is truly what makes you a better writer. Don’t think you can just write on a specific topic or genre because you think you can. You need to experience that genre, see how it is written, how the story flows, to truly understand how to write it.
Finish your story completely before picking it apart, editing it and polishing it to perfection. Plus, don’t polish it too perfectly as publishers are going to want to change it, no matter what.
Be yourself, be confident and keep trying. If you are passionate about your writing, just write. If you want it to become published, work as hard on your pitch as you did the story. And don’t take rejection as a negative that stops you in your tracks. Take is as incentive to try harder, take a different track and try again.
Don’t doubt yourself, if you’re writing stories you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if no one else has read them. You are a creator of worlds, you are a writer.
Oh, and if you’re going to create a book with a long title, be committed to it. I can tell you it soon gets tiring writing the long title over and over again. ;-)
Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!
Other World Series
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Hague Publishing
Word Count: 90,000
Cover Artist: Jade Zivanovic
Too late to save her sister’s life, Stephanie Anders must now try to save her soul from the vampire who has possessed her, Branwyre, eighteenth vampire Lord of the Aegean.
With only the aid of the ghost of a pissed-off Buddhist monk with a potty mouth and the modern day Priestess of Isis, Stephanie must take on demons and other denizens of a world she knows nothing about if she is to succeed in banishing Branwyre.
But even more difficult than that, she must learn how to forgive her sister Estella for what she did to her if she is to have even half a chance of saving her soul. Welcome to a world within our own – the Other World.
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl_GYTFkU1c
Available at Hague Publishing
Extract from Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! by Janis Hill
Estella had the grace and timing to wake up just after I’d hauled her dead weight, literally, into the chair and balanced it there long enough the grab the rope.
“By the Light of Isis, what do you think you’re doing?” Her tone was nearly petulant enough to be the old Estella asking me, not the new peace-and-love one.
“Following your High Priestess’ instructions.” I grunted while tying her hands behind her back as best I could, before continuing to wrap the rope around her and the chair.
“But why are you tying me to a chair now?” she asked, aghast to realise just how tight I had done it. “Branwyre can’t take over until night time. We’ve got at least another hour.”
Ignoring her question for a moment, I snatched her right foot and tied it to the corresponding chair leg. Then, ignoring the attempted kick, did the same to her left one.
“Roxanna clearly states in her instructions here to gather the required items, purify them and set it all up, you included.” I waved the note at her before continuing to wrap her legs, backside and chair in the rope. Yeah, I’d gotten a decent amount. Who says two for one sales are a waste of time? “Nowhere in her instructions does it say we should stop for coffee and a chat. When I’ve got as much of it ready as I can before moonrise, I can actually have a rest. You know, something even we non-undead need to do from time to time.”
She went to protest, I even paused to watch the show I felt she was about to perform, but other than gaping a few times like a stunned fish, she stayed quiet. Wow, this Light of Isis was amazing if it could prevent the Queen of Whinge from speaking.
“Fine then,” she finally managed, a slight sulky tone to her voice. “But how am I meant to eat dinner?”
I sighed; I hadn’t honestly thought of that, going along the lines that she was dead. Yes she was an animated corpse right now, but dead was dead. You shouldn’t have to provide meals for them.
“Nowhere in my instructions does it say I have to feed you.” I muttered. Then feeling I should relent a little as she’d found it within herself to be nicer. “But how about I order pizza, and you eat it cold later. Surely even the Light of Isis can’t have cured you of your cold pizza habits.”
She sighed, but said no more for a moment. Didn’t even pout, which surprised me even more than the silence.
“I do wish you’d be more respectful of Isis and her purifying Light,” is all she eventually said as I was adding a few more knots to the back of the chair.
“Uh-huh.” I was more interested in making sure I’d done a good job, than listen to a lecture on appropriate religious respect. Especially from someone who in the past hadn’t held any respect for anyone or anything.
“And no dinner is fine; I don’t seem to have the need to eat that often anymore.” She continued, trying to watch me over her shoulder. “I won’t have you dissing cold pizza though.”
“Sure!” I said, standing back and wiping sweat from my brow and then my hands on my dress. I remembered I was still in one of my best ‘sombre but not kinky’ little black dresses, not having had a chance to change. So Roxanna’s wodge of cash was buying me a few clothes tomorrow, too. Why not! If I wasn’t allowed to go home until this was all over, she owed me at least a pair of jeans and clean underwear. I checked the instructions again. Okay, so all items purified, sister roped tightly into chair. Salt time! Boy I hoped the motel’s maid service wouldn’t be too pissed at me, or at least wouldn’t notice until after we’d left.
About the Author:
Janis grew up in and around Darwin, Australia, and its rural surrounds. As a child, she spent a lot of time around 'science geeks' at the Darwin University, where her father was a lecturer for many years. It took her a long time to realise that not everyone got to grow up like that or could relate to all the Science Labs scenes in the old Dr Who.
Janis now lives in the Adelaide Hills with her husband and 3 children, lovingly referred to as the ‘Demonic Hordes’. She is a semi-retired ICT Support Officer who, when not writing, takes pride in her work as a Haus Frau while dabbling in the art of translating century old cookery books into modern recipes to experiment on her family with.
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