Welcome everyone. Today, we have a wonderful guest, Janet McNulty who hails from West Virginia in to visit with us. Janet, will you get us started with a little about your books, and how you got started writing?
- I began writing short stories as a kid, mostly to just pass the time. I didn’t start doing it full time until a few years ago when I realized that it was something I liked doing. I like telling stories. Hopefully, they are stories that people want to read.
- I had always been writing short stories that ended up in the trash. I guess I had always had a bit of an interest in writing, but it was more of a hobby until a few years ago.
Do you remember what started you on your writer’s journey?
- I was watching my cat play with her toy and had an idea for a story. I started writing it in bits and pieces, but it took me over ten years to turn it into a book.
I know how it goes, when you’re getting the first book ready. It seems to take the longest. Would it be to outlandish to suggest your cat inspired your first book?
- I don’t know if I was inspired.
Hmm, your cat may have other ideas. Then again, they seem to think the world revolves around them, so that may not be fair.
Are you at a point where you can share any news about your current projects, or events that are coming up for you?
- I have just released the last book to my science fiction story: Solaris Soars. Other than that, my life is pretty boring.
- I have just finished my science fiction series, which took me two years to write. I think I am going to take a bit of a break. However, I did find and unfinished book my grandmother had written. The notes are a jumbled mess, but my next project will probably be to make sense of those and write the story.
Sounds like you have quite a bit building up on your plate. Do you have any authors or books you like to read when you’re ready for a break?
- That’s a hard one. I read a lot, mostly some older classics. I like the book Gone With the Wind and Lord of the Rings. Mostly, it’s how they tell a story about character you care about, while incorporating a sense of adventure that influenced my writing.
You mentioned you were thinking of taking a break from writing for a bit. Are you reading any good book(s) now?
- Wayward Pine. I watched the television series and decided I should read the book and find out how they compare. I tend to do that.
I do that from time to time, myself. Sometimes those comparisons are interesting.
What about new authors – anyone catch your interest?
- I haven’t liked a lot of the books that have been coming out and catching the world by storm.
To some degree I can sympathize – it can be tough when you go against the trends. Would you consider any of authors you’ve read a mentor figure, even if you haven’t met them?
- I don’t know if I would. A lot of the writers today that are being hailed as great, I do not care for their books. I guess I’m on my own for now.
Going back to your own work, do you have a specific method to come up with your titles, or do the stories present them as you’re writing?
- I played around. With my Solaris series I wanted simple titles that conveyed action. After two months of writing down titles and throwing away the pages I came up with Solaris Seethes, Solaris Seeks, Solaris Strays, and Solaris Soars.
Sounds interesting; especially the way you’ve kept the name similar throughout. Does your work ever reflect experiences you’ve had, or heard about from your own life?
- Some of the experiences of the characters are based on my own life, but also on what people I know have experienced.
Do you ever try to incorporate reality into your work?
- I don’t think any part of the book is realistic, but that’s the point of it. I wrote it to be an adventure story and escapist fiction.
Fair enough. Would it be safe to say the type of book you write has influenced your writing style, or is that something you’ve developed that will extend beyond your current books?
- I like to read books that move and don’t rely too much on narrative or dialogue, but have a balanced mix. I guess you can say that is my writing style.
I’ve run into a couple recently that had such a blend, and quite enjoyed them.
Do you ever weave a message into your work for readers to find?
- If my novel has a message, it’s that we’re all connected in some way, doing the right thing is important, and you can’t do everything yourself. Sometimes you need help.
That’s a powerful message. One I probably ought to listen to more often, to be truthful. Did you have any help when you were designing the covers?
- Robert Henry [designed the covers for me.]
Those are lovely.
While you were writing, do you have any challenges or lessons you encountered and learned from along the way?
- Keep things interesting. It is difficult to write action and non-action scenes and blending them together so that story doesn’t drag.
- Writing [a] big finish. I wanted Solaris Soars to end with a bang, and I had spent four books leading up to a climatic ending, so I went all out to deliver, while making certain that it led to the characters’ ultimate goal.
- I learned how to write descriptions. In previous novels, I never bothered to describe anything, but I wanted people to be able to picture this world of Rynah’s and the smell and sounds. I hope I succeeded.
Would these lessons change anything you’ve done if you had to start over with the knowledge you have now?
- Aside from maybe tightening up a scene or too, not really. It took me a long time to get it to where it is and I’m happy with it.
With all you’ve accomplished, would you consider writing to be your career?
- I do and hope I can make a go of it.
I’ve heard it’s tough.
With all you’ve learned, do you have any advice to pass on to other writers who may not be as far along on their own journeys?
- Learn to write well.
I know there will be those who say that I cannot write. There will always be those who do not like your writing. There are a lot of recent, big name authors from the last five years who cannot write well. But take the time to learn how to write compelling action scene, good descriptions that aren’t boring, and varying sentence structures so that not all of them are the same beat and pace. And make sure your book has these things:
- A storyline. It doesn’t matter if it’s a save the world ploy, or escape death and survive, but your book must have a clear storyline so that your characters has a reason behind their actions.
- A character that we want to read about it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the noble hero we all want to worship, or a complete a-hole that we loathe. Your book must have a character(s) that, for some reason, people cannot tear themselves away from.
- A clearly defined goal. Your main character must have a goal that they wish to achieve, otherwise, what is the point to their actions?
Janet, thank you for stopping by today. I’ve enjoyed our chat, and admit there’s a few points you mentioned that I’m going to have to think about. As we wrap up, any final words for our readers?
- Thank you. Thank you. And, thank you for your support.
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