Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, February 06, 2009

Interview with Janette Rallison

Janette Rallison is a very busy lady. She is also the most dedicated, giving, and all-around nice person you'll ever meet. I had only to sound just a little desperate (and more than a little pathetic) and she dropped everything to answer your questions. ALL of them. I hope you appreciate this even half as much as I do!

This, then is the blog you hoped it would be!

What was Janette's path to publication in the national market?

I wrote a book that would work in the national market, sent it to an agent that some SCBWI folks suggested, and after about a year of waiting and anguish while it was shopped around, I had Tim Travaglini at Walker Books (He's now at Putnam) convinced that I could write well. Tim is brilliant.

If this book is turned into a movie, will Janette make sure it stays true to the book or will she let them tweak it?

My Fair Godmother was over 300 pages and the average movie script is a 100 pages, so it goes without saying that most books are tweaked for the movies. I hate to think of 200 pages being chopped/condensed and rewritten, but that's just the way it is.

Seriously, now, I read you biography on your website, and know that you've written several other books, mostly young adult novels. Have you any plans to write a novel aimed at us more ... mature persons?

You're in luck, mature persons reading this, I did write some LDS romances and a Sci-fi novel under the name Sierra St. James. And they're great books too.

If casting were completely up to you, who would be in the movie? Did you have a mental image of any of these people in mind as you created your characters?

I love the guys from Prince Caspian so I would probably cast Ben Barnes as Hunter and William Moseley as Tristan. Savannah and Jane would be a little harder because you would have to find actresses that looked like sisters.

Here is my question. When do you find time to write with 5 kids? I have 3 and it's tough to get in the mood to write when there is so much to do.

At first I wrote during nap time, then at favorite show time, then at preschool time. I even wrote long hand while nursing. I paid older kids to play with the younger kids so I could write. You don't get much written when you have little kids but if you can manage a page or two a day then you can have a book written in less than a year.

I'd be interested in knowing if she plans on writing anymore fantasy books and if she would ever do more writing about any other fairy tales or myths (like Greek and Roman Hera & Aphrodite, etc myths).

Yes, I want to do more fantasy. And although I hadn't really planned on doing a sequel to My Fair Godmother, I left it open so I could, and it looks like the book is doing well enough that I might--so I'll need to come up with some more fairy tales to send people to.

Now, for the question: In Kerry's quote, Janette's discussion of the power of the wish shows an interesting perception of the strength and courage necessary to change. Do you feel any of that ambivalence as you head towards a movie after breaking into the national market?

No, actually I only feel like squealing like a teenage girl. The producer called me today and I was barely capable of coherent speech. I told him I was a big fan of Sky High so he is sending me an official Sky High backpack. How cool is that? I mean, even if the book never makes it to the theaters, I'll have a Sky High backpack. What was the question again? (You see how I go all incoherent while talking about the possibility of a movie.)

That said, Chrissy really is right about wishes. Sometimes they do swallow you whole. How many of us who sit down at our computers with the intent to write a book and then get it published and market it, feel like that wish has swallowed us whole?

If you can you tell how lovingly jealous we(well, me)are, will you tell us what wish you made that changed you/your writing so you could do all this?

When I started out in my writing group all my friends were wishing that their books would get published. I decided not to wish for that because I thought: what if it happened but my book wasn't really any good? That would be worse. Everyone would know I was a horrible writer and wonder how I got published, and people would trash my book, and it would end up on sale for .99 in the bargain bin. (That happens, by the way, even to good books.)

So I decided to wish that I would become a good writer and I read writing books, took classes on writing, and went to conferences. That is always my advice to budding writers: Don't worry about getting published so much. Worry about learning the craft of writing, then publishing becomes easier.

Where did you learn so much about wishes?

High school where I spent a lot of time wishing I would get noticed by certain young men and other things that didn’t happen.

If Ms. Rallison could have three wishes of her own, what would they be?

A self cleaning house would be right up there on the list. So would world peace, but I might put the self cleaning house before world peace (which shows you what kind of person I am.) I'd probably also wish to rule the world or something like that which would end up not making me happy at all. But think of the changes you could make if you ruled the world. I could, for example, dictate that spelling had to make sense from here on out. Goodbye silent p in pnemonia and in alphabet and all sorts of other places Ps don't belong like psychiatry.

Does Ms. Rallison give her story characters any of her own personal traits?

Always. Which is why they usually have a weakness for chocolate and are lousy drivers. They also tend to embarrass themselves.

My question: Does your bishop ask you to speak in sacrament more often after you were published and are you in your ward or stake YW presidency? Just kidding about the second part. None of my business.

Nope, perhaps they're worried what I'm going to say. (Although I do get asked to write camp skits and road shows. It turns out that's not an entirely bad thing. I got the idea for My Fair Godmother from a road show I wrote. Go fractured fairy tale theme! The original was called Beauty and the Priest. And right now I'm in Primary. I love it!

What use of metaphor in your recent release did you enjoy writing the most? And which use of metaphor do you think was used to the most dramatic impact?

In the fairy's report at the beginning of the novel I talk about predatory guys being sharks. It was fun to play a little bit with that image since I don't usually use a lot of literary symbolism in my books. My publisher wanted me to take out the whole report and I had to sort of fight them over it. I liked the report, and besides I was afraid that if the reader didn't get to see the situation from Jane's side first, everyone would hate Jane and Hunter and would be waiting for Savannah to take revenge. I didn't want the book to be about revenge.

How long did it take you to write this book? I remember from reading her blog a while ago that she was trying to write a book in two months, and I'm curious if this is the one.

Nope, that wasn't this one. This one probably took around six months.

In the past year, what is one of your favorite book signing experiences?

I did one in my old neighborhood and got to see all of my old friends. It was sort of like a funeral, only I didn't have to die for it.

Okay, my question: Having read quite a few of your books (and owning even more) where do come up with your ideas? And please keep them coming???!!!

I get ideas from my teenagers and from my own mind that likes to wander far too much when I should be paying attention to things like driving the car.

I have a question! Is she going to write a sequel to her sci-fi novel Time Riders now that it is getting published by Desert Book soon? :)

I hope so. Echo is one of my all time favorite characters.

My question is: Does Janette plan on continuing in the YA market or will she consider writing adult fiction?

Both! And I wish I had more time!

After many and deep thinking things in my brain, the only question that I came up with is, do you find writing a little everyday helps you be more creative?

Yes, and another side effect is that my house is a mess. Oh well.

Will you play a cameo part in the movie, like Stephenie Meyer did? If so, what would you like to play?

That would be so cool. If and when they start filming it, I'll have to beg the producer and see if they'll let me walk across the background or something.

What time of day are you more productive - morning? evening?

Anytime my family isn't around is what works best for me.

Do you write longhand, or are you computer oriented?

Mostly I write on the computer but if I'm out watching a soccer game or something I take a notebook and write long hand.

Can you write with life going on around you - or do you need quiet?

I need it quiet, definitely.

To read more about this very talented writer, visit her website and her blogsite! Thanks, Janette!


At 2/06/2009 7:15 PM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

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At 2/06/2009 7:21 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Just a little observation: in my experience, people that I think are lousy drivers NEVER think they aren't any good. They're all sure they are good drivers!

Based on this, I'm going to guess that you are probably just fine. =)

At 2/06/2009 7:56 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Bro. Woolley: Oh, dear! I must have accidentally failed to forward those questions to Janette. Too late now, I fear. You'll have to ask her yourself...say at the Whitney gala.

At 2/06/2009 9:55 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Janette--you are so funny. That's why I love your books!

At 2/06/2009 11:56 PM, Blogger Dave, Kim, and Molly Thacker said...

I had the fantastic opportunity of meeting Janette when she came to Moscow, Idaho recently. She agreed to meet with our writers group at a local restaurant, and in spite of having to fly out early the next morning, she gave us aspiring LDS writers three hours of her attention! We were at the restaurant until midnight. She is so generous. Thank you, Janette!

At 2/07/2009 10:13 AM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

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At 2/07/2009 10:15 AM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/07/2009 1:47 PM, Blogger Janette Rallison said...

David, stop sneaking into my house to steal my ideas. The book I'm writing right now has a magic compass in it. (Maybe we should write a series like the 39 clues . . .)

At 2/07/2009 2:18 PM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/07/2009 2:47 PM, Blogger Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

GREAT interview! I've always loved Janette's books.

In case I haven't introduced myself before - I'm an LDS YA writer, too, in New Mexico, writing for the mainstream market. In fact, I recently sold a three book deal to Scholastic. So I'm pretty psyched!

Enjoying the conversations here . . .

At 2/07/2009 8:01 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

Kimberley: Welcome to the Frog Blog & big CONGRATS on the book deal! What is the name of the first book in the series? Has it come out? Details, girl. :)

Janette: I think you have my wardrobe confused with Tristi's. I think she has a matching wand, even. Thanks for your continuing wit, wisdom and patience. LYG!

At 2/08/2009 11:08 AM, Blogger Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Hi Kerry! Thanks for the welcome! I signed with a new agent in Sept and she sold the deal to Scholastic in November so it all just recently happened. The first book will come out Summer 2010. It's not a series - they are all three stand alone YA's. The third one sold from just a synopsis - wowza! So I have to write that one still.

If titles don't change . . . THE HEALING SPELL will be pubbed first and takes place in small town Louisiana about a girl who thinks she's caused her mother's coma and goes into the forbidden swamp to buy a spell from the crazy/weird folk healer (traiteur they're called) to help bring her mama back to life.

SECRET RITES OF THE GODDESS is about the roots of belly dance in 1750 BC when a great-great granddaughter of Abraham (through Ishmael, not Isaac) finds her family and life in danger when she and her sister run away to the Goddess Temple of Ashtoreth where idol worship and prostitution is rampant. This one is pretty edgy and probably going to end up crossing over into the adult market, too.

At 2/11/2009 4:10 PM, Blogger Heather Justesen said...

Great interview. I love Janette's books, and I'm very sad I won't have another of her adult romances to take with me to Bear Lake this summer since I've read them all!


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