Aurora is pleased to have Janet Lane Walters visiting with us this week. Janet is an eclectic writer whose focus lately has been in fantasy. She has been an EPPIE finalist twice and the winner of one for non-fiction in 2003. Her YA fantasies are published by Mundania and Diskus. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband. Her four children have given her five grandchildren and they are the focus of The Henge Betrayed – Flight, published by Mundania.
She told me that her grandchildren, in different personas, are the main characters in the book.
"The thing that makes me proud," she said, "is that the older four (ages ten to twenty) have read and enjoyed the book. They're awaiting the sequel. One of my grandsons is so into the book that he's trying to develop a video game based on the chapters."
Janet is a planner, but she doesn't always stick to the original plan, because she found that once her characters take life, sometimes that plan changes.
"When writing The Henge Betrayed --Flight, I remember writing 'In order to escape you have to die.' The threat of death of one of the characters wasn't in my plans," she told me. "In the second book this is explained."
She's recently finished the third book of The Henge Betrayed Series -- Quests and will soon be working on the fourth and final book of the quartet Confrontations.
I asked her to tell us about her latest books.
"My latest YA book is The Secret of the Jewels published by DiskUs and is the third of a fantasy trilogy. In the book the eight Jewel Holders and their companions finish the battle against the mages and learn the origin and the danger in the Jewels. Up to this point the Jewels have helped them develop their powers. When they learn what the Jewels really mean they must find a way to destroy their influence without destroying themselves.
"Soon to be released is the second of the Henge books Refuge. Once again the four are on the run seeking a refuge from the evil Dom Senet. They also fear for their friends they have left behind. Two with talents have remained in the garden in Cedris. The son of the ruler of Wesren has remained in the palace and has learned he must die in order to escape. Trouble escalates and though the four are safe, their friends aren't and they must find ways to rescue them. Others with affinities for the four elements-- Earth, Fire, Water and Air-- join them and aid in the escapes."
One of the reasons she enjoys writing books for young adults is it keeps her young. It also gives her a way to use heavy subjects in a different way than she would deal with them in her writing from adults.
When she was growing up, she read everything.
"I do mean everything," she stressed. "I gave a book report on Anna Karenina in third grade though I wrote a different ending. I know I didn't understand everything happening in the book until I became an adult."
She enjoyed mysteries, fantasy, and as she became a teen, some light romance. She had access to the classics at her home and read most of them, even though she had to labor through the writing since it was much more ponderous than writing today.
Janet didn't always want to be a writer, even though she's always written. "Until I married and had my first child anything I wrote was kept in notebooks and not shared," she told me.
She still writes in long hand and then transfers her work to a computer. She might rewrite a chapter, scene, or even a paragraph by hand and then type that in as well. "I think better with pen in hand than a computer, but that is how I learned to write many years ago," she explained.
I asked her to share with us what her writing space was like.
"I have a study off the living room that was once a sun porch to the house. There are two windows but they're too high for me to see outside so I'm not distracted. On the shelf above the computer is my collection of dragons, twenty or so as well as a few other oddities. The walls have bookshelves and sometimes there are stacks of books on the floor when I'm heavy into research. No pictures since this writer is often disorganized except I know where everything is hiding."
She finds researching fun—using books she's collected over the years, the library, and the internet.
"You can find out just about anything if you look hard enough. One of the problems is to stop researching. In The Henge Betrayed – Quests, I needed to do a thatching a roof scene. I read everything I could find on the subject, printed out a lot of pages from my internet searches and then put the information in my own words. I probably used ten facts out of the thousand or so that I found."
"Do you think the Internet will ultimately change the publishing industry?" I wondered.
"I definitely believe this will happen and has already happened. When one of my granddaughters was eight, she called me and asked me to buy her a real book. This child loves to read. I send her books every few months and reminded her of this. She said she meant a real book. At school they read books on the computer. According to her paper books aren't real since you could tear them up and throw them away."
Finally, I asked Janet if she had any advice for young writers.
"Read everything you can. Remember when you're writing you need to know your characters, what they want, what effect does where they live and the time period have on the characters. Give your characters a goal, reasons why what they want can and cannot be had and this will become your plan."