Do you have an all time favourite book character you secretly aspire to be more like? Discover Janeen Brian’s…
Q Who or what was your favourite book character as a child? If you could incorporate that character into one of your own stories, which would it be and why? How would you adapt that character to suit?
I wanted to be one of the girls in the Enid Blyton’s Famous Five or Secret Seven series, because, having few books in my childhood, I felt as if I personally knew the girls. But as well, they were up front characters who had adventures and were at time, quite gutsy. I liked that! I think many of my girl characters have some of those characteristics!
Q Which Aussie children’s book author do you admire the most and why?
How can any reader or writer answer that! I love the work of my friend and poetry colleague, Lorraine Marwood. Her words sing to me or shake me about. Her work is so real and yet, magical. A bit like her.
Q How long does it take you to develop a children’s story? Does the time vary dependant on the genre: picture book, MG novel, script etc.
I have recently compiled an anthology of my poems, entitled, As long as a piece of string. That will have to suffice for my answer to that one, because as vague as it is, it’s the truth. Sometimes picture books can take as long to write as a piece of fiction. Of course, you’re not necessarily slogging at it for hours every day, but developing it, shaping it and re-writing it over time.
Q Do you write every day? What is the most enjoyable part of your working day?
It’s rare that I miss a day where I’m not writing, even if it’s just catching up on my diary.
Q What inspires you to write like nothing else can?
Certain words; strong, emotional situations; a state of tranquillity.
Q Do you have a special spot or routine to make the magic happen or can you write anywhere, any time?
I work mainly in my home office; and each morning I prime myself by responding to emails and getting lots of admin out the way first. It’s also a way of letting my brain know that I’m here and we’re going to do something to do with writing or brainstorming. I do a lot of brainstorming. I don’t tend to start putting anything on the computer until I’ve written enough, using pen on paper, and have a physical feeling that that I’ve captured the voice of the character or that I’m ready to start.
Q What is that one thing that motivates you to keep on writing (for children)?
I love the creativity; the tumble and jumble of words and feelings; the constant astonishment that so much of what happens in your life can become the story for another and the fact children seem to like what I write.
Q Name one ‘I’ll never forget that’ moment in your writing career thus far.
So many! I think being a writer is full of surprises, but a recent one was winning the Carclew Fellowship in the 2012 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. The Fellowship awarded me a sizeable amount of money to further research and develop a three-in-one-project. When the phone call came to say that I’d won, my first reaction was that I was going to be told my application was disallowed because it involved three proposals, not one. But instead, I was told I’d won!
Q What is on the draft table for Janeen?
Three books due for release within the next six months – so, much admin, media promotion and launches to organise. The books are: A picture book for the very young, called I’m a dirty dinosaur. (illustrated by Ann James and published by Penguin group Australia). An Australian historical picture book for the young called Meet Ned Kelly (illustrated by Matt Adams and published by Random House) and an historical, adventure novel for upper primary, called That boy, Jack.(published by Walker Books) I also have a number of other projects out with my agent or publishers.
My next project will be another picture book. I have vague ideas, but will need to do more research first.
Can hardly wait. For a full list of this year’s releases visit Janeen’s website too.