Today I am interviewing best selling novelist Janice Horton.Good morning Janice and thank you for agreeing to answer some questions for us.
1. Please tell us about your journey from writing to publication
I’ve always had an overactive imagination and made up stories in my head and I’ve always been an avid reader too, so I suppose writing novels was a natural progression for me. I had at least six manuscripts unfinished in a draw before I eventually completed one. I remember it took four years to write and send off to a publisher. To my astonishment, I was offered a contract to publish straightaway. The book did reasonably well, but after a couple of years, just as I’d completed my next book, the publisher folded and the book went out of print. Despite this, my book being published was a great stepping stone to my writing career, as it qualified me to join the Romantic Novelist’s Association as a full member. For the first time I got to meet other writers and to chat about the business of writing books.
My latest novel ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’ is my tenth title published to date. I’m incredibly proud to say that all my books since the very first have been Amazon bestsellers and ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’ is, at the time if this interview, sitting at the #1 spot in Amazon’s Adventure Travel Fiction Top 100 Bestsellers Chart. I feel blessed to be a writer and to have so many readers who enjoy my books.
2. Where do you get your ideas from?
This is the question most people ask me at the end of a talk or workshop and I always answer with one word. Everywhere. An idea for a story can spark from an overheard conversation in a coffee shop or even a newspaper article that makes you wonder what will happen next. Once I have that ‘spark’ of an idea, I start to think about my fictional characters and once I have one or two formed in my mind, I start to write a rough first draft. I don’t usually plan or plot at this stage, I simply let the characters tell me the story while I write it down. My job is to wonder what, when, where, who, why? This is when a plot develops and what started out as a small idea becomes a fully formed story.
3. If you hadn’t become a writer, what would you have done?
I have done so many jobs in my life – I’ve been a shop assistant, a sales person, a secretary, a book keeper, and a wife and mother and home maker. For many years, I was also a self-employed graphic designer. Starting up my own business when our three sons were babies gave me the work day flexibility that I needed to bring them up without having to use nurseries or child minders. All through these times I was also writing - so being a writer is not so much what I do – it’s what I am.
4. Do you work better in the morning or afternoon?
I’m naturally more of an owl than a lark but I do know that my creative mind is sharper in the morning and that I often run out of energy by late afternoon. When I had no choice but to write in the evenings, it took me much longer to write my books. Now that I give priority to writing in the morning, I find I can work much faster.
5. How do you plan your research?
I often have characters in my books who are experts in things that I know nothing about! For example, in ‘Reaching for the Stars’ my main character is a celebrity chef. So, before I wrote a word, I made it my mission to find out everything I could about the culinary world. I interviewed Michelin starred chefs and read every celebrity chef biography that I could get my hands on, in order to get a real sense of how they lived their lives. Only then did I feel able to write about my fictional chef with authority and believability.
Janice in The British Virgin Islands
Just a fraction of the research I do actually ends up being used in the book though – it’s more about me learning to be in my character’s heads and therefore able to react to events that happen in the book in the way they would. Interestingly, while researching ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’ I spent three months travelling around tropical islands in the Caribbean Sea.
The British Virgin Islands
Yes, honestly, so as you can see - I take my research very seriously!
6. How do you relax?
I read. I love my Kindle ereader, which is perfect for when I’m travelling, which I do a lot. I have both the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire – and I have hundreds of books on them waiting to be read. I also love to read paperbacks and hardbacks and I particularly love it if I can find the vintage first edition books of authors I love, like Ruby Ferguson, who wrote children’s books in the 1960’s (which is how I discovered her) and also romantic suspense novels in the 1940’s and 50’s. I have all her books in first edition. I also have everything by Jilly Cooper in first edition too. If I’m not reading then I love to listen to music. One thing I never do is watch TV. I don’t even own one. I do enjoy a good movie though, and love to go to on cinema dates with my lovely husband.
7. What was your favourite subject at school?
8. Do you prefer pop or classical music?
Pop – because I love to dance - but I also love all music for all moods.
9. Sweet or savoury dish?
Savoury. I do not have a sweet tooth at all. I don’t actually like chocolate – I’d rather have a bowl of olives!
10. What are your plans for remainder of 2015?
I have fabulous plans for 2015. It’s been a long time in the planning, but my husband and intend to travel around the world this year. He has just taken early retirement and we have always loved to travel. At the moment, we are in the Caribbean again, on an island just off the coast of Honduras, Central America. We intend staying here for four months, after which we will head back to Scotland and England and the Mediterranean before travelling via Dubai onto Asia.
The British Virgin Islands
From Asia we then plan to fly to Hawaii before going onto Vancouver Canada. From there we will travel down the west coast of the USA, stopping off at such places as San Francisco and Las Vegas. We have friends and family to stop off and see and that will make our journey even more enjoyable. We will take our time travelling – during which time I will still be writing and submitting feature articles to Loveahappyending Lifestyle Magazine (LLm) – the award winning online magazine for which I write on a regular basis. Towards the end of 2015, we intend to end up in the Caribbean again, having circumnavigated the whole world. You can follow our adventure on my website janicehorton.co.uk
Would you like to donate a signed copy of one of your books for a prize?
As I’m currently in Central America that might be hard for me to organise but I could certainly offer to email a Kindle ecopy of my latest book ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’.
Many thanks Janice for such an interesting interview. I hope you continue to enjoy Central America and indeed your travels around the world! Details of competition will be on the website soon.