So…I’m totally fangirling right now. *biting nails* I have the honor and privilege of hosting one of my very favorite authors, Janet Elizabeth Henderson. I discovered her through a Goodreads ad one rainy day in January 2014. The blurb for her book, Lingerie Wars, sounded like the story would be my cup of tea, so I took a risk and bought a copy. Once I started reading, it was hard to stop. But, you know, I had to work and eat….and shower, I suppose. In the span of two days, I finished the book and was hooked.
What was so great about it? (Besides everything, of course?) It made me laugh, like, every other page. Out loud. I hadn’t laughed that much (in a good way) while reading a book in a long, long time. And I had been rooting for the characters from the get-go. It was just hours and hours of awesome/love/funny/great characters packed into one book.
Click HERE to read my review of Lingerie Wars on Goodreads.
Does this talented lady have more books for me to read? I asked myself. I started Internet-stalking her and found her Goodreads Author Page and perused all the other books she had written. I ended up purchasing ALL of them, reading them within a few days, and impatiently waiting for the followup to Lingerie Wars to come out. Do I believe in love at first sight? Yes, when it comes to books, yes. And I fell in love with Janet’s writing in Lingerie Wars and have continued the affair ever since.
In fact, Janet’s the one I can blame for my obsession of all things romance in literature. Sure, I liked the YA romance here and there—being that, hello, I AM a YA writer—but I had always scoffed at readers of romance. And now? Well…I’ve probably read about 100 romance novels THIS YEAR. *looking sheepish*
Now that you have the backstory, allow me to introduce to you Janet Elizabeth Henderson, romance writer extraordinaire. Enjoy the interview!
Tell us a bit about yourself—what’s your background and how did you become a writer?
Like most writers, I’ve done a bit of everything in my life—from working as a hospital cleaner to travelling the world, taking photos for a UK based charity. I studied fine art at college, then years later, when I couldn’t get employed as a sculptor (funny, that!), I did a postgrad in teaching. I taught at high school for a couple of years before going to work as a marketing manager for a charity.
In between all of this, I’ve been a portrait artist in Amsterdam, a volunteer worker in the shanty towns of Peru, a camp counsellor for Camp America, a cleaner of a drug addict’s drop-in center, and shoe sales person—amongst other things! I always wanted to be a writer but went to Art College because it seemed like a good idea at the time—seriously, teenagers should not be allowed to choose a career!
I wrote my first novel at 22. It was a kid’s book that was so bad it had the potential to become a cult classic. The story was a cross between Star Wars, Monsters Inc., and Lassie. It still shocks me that no one wanted to publish it! 😉 It took me a long time to find my own particular voice for writing and the genre I wanted to write in.
Before writing romance, I tried to write crime. All that happened was I gave myself nightmares! Once I read my first romance novel, I felt like I’d come home. I knew that all the stories in my head, the ones that had been rattling around for years, were romance stories. Once I understood this, everything fell into place, and writing was a lot easier for me.
What books have most influenced your life most?
The Bible, definitely. Though it might be an obvious choice, it’s not just influenced my life but how I think about writing. The story of Ruth is a fantastic romance—probably the first romance ever written!
Other books that have had an influence on my writing are The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath because it has amazing depth and great imagery, Judas Child by Carol O’Connell because she is a seriously good writer who writes slightly oddball characters, and Kresley Cole’s books because they are easy reads, which means they were super hard to write.
Kresley Cole manages to combine humor, pacing, great romance, and intricate plotting in all of her books. I’m rereading them now and am seriously envious of her skill. I also found Get That Novel Started by Donna Levin really helpful when I was starting out.
What is the genre in which you write?
Contemporary romance with humorous elements. I don’t mind calling it romantic comedy, but I’m worried that people think romantic comedy is full of silly humor, and I don’t want to be silly! 😀
What is the book you recently published? What is it all about?
Calamity Jena, Invertary Book 4, came out on the 16th of June. It’s part of a series that’s set in a fictitious small town in the Scottish Highlands. This one tells the story of Jena Morgan, who’s a famous Atlantic City go-go dancer looking for a new start in life. Jena is a really sweet character. She is totally accident prone, has an optimistic outlook on life, and makes decisions that no sane person would make! After she catches her cheating boyfriend in the act, Jena gets drunk and buys a house in Scotland—sight unseen. When she turns up, she discovers it’s a dump, but she doesn’t let that get her down; instead she works hard to learn DIY and fix the place up.
Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend follows her to Scotland and is intent on winning her back. Seeing as he’s a wannabe member of the New Jersey mob, Jena ends up under the protection of Matt Donaldson, the town’s only cop. Matt is everything Jena isn’t. He’s sensible, slightly pessimistic, and a stickler for order. Jena’s chaotic life both fascinates and terrifies him. As he protects her from her ex, the attraction he feels towards her grows into love, and they end up helping each other to deal with the difficult things life throws at them.
Click HERE to get the book on Amazon.
Have you published or written any other works?
Yes! Calamity Jena is book number seven. There are three more Invertary books, all stand-alones set in the same Highland town. There are also two connected books that tell the stories of best friends: Mad Love and Laura’s Big Break, and then there’s The Davina Code. The Davina Code has possibly the worst title and cover of any of book ever written! People don’t have a clue what to think about it. I have a real soft spot for Davina’s story though, she’s probably the character who’s most like me!
Name your favorite characters you’ve written into existence and explain why they’re your favorites.
My favorite is always the one I’m working on right now. Or the one I’ve just finished. I have a soft spot for Davina and Jena, who are quite similar. Of the boys, I love Grunt. I love that he’s a taciturn, behemoth of a man who is brought to his knees while dealing with Claire—their story is in Calamity Jena. Also, I enjoyed poking fun at the Alpha Hero stereotype while writing Grunt.
I also love Mitch. He’s Josh’s best friend in Goody Two Shoes, but I know what’s coming for him, and it takes a lot of effort not to cackle with glee when I think about it.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Not really. When something sticks in my writing, it usually means there’s a major problem with the story, or that the characters aren’t behaving ‘in character’. Your subconscious often picks up things your conscious misses. When this happens, I go back over everything, rewriting until it flows again. It’s hard work, frustrating and sometimes demoralizing, but at least it keeps going forward.
Do you write an outline before you write a book?
I don’t know…no…yes…kind of! Does that answer your question?! 🙂 I have two whiteboards in my office, and I map out the characters, themes, and story ideas on them. This is one of my Calamity Jena boards. As you can see, sometimes my kids help with the planning!