Janie, a practicing osteopath, lives in Eastbourne, UK, with her teenage daughter, and a music producer son. She won the Faber & Faber ‘Hard Lines’ short story competition at the age of 19 while training to be a journalist in London. But she left journalism to study psychology and philosophy at Middlesex University. Her non-governmental organization ‘People Against Chimpanzee Experiments’ has worked to achieve a ban on the use of great apes in medical research. Wonderful World is her debut book collection. Here is the link to the book review.
How did you start writing?
I wrote a lot of bad poems all through my teenage years and never thought anything of it but then there was a hullabaloo where my English teacher contacted my parents and asked them whether a poem I had submitted was from one of their poetry books as it was too good to have been written by me! I hadn’t stolen it. I had written it. I got an A** and came to the conclusion I should write more poems.
What was the inspiration for writing all the stories?
I was ill in bed or housebound for much of the pandemic with long COVID. I couldn’t work or socialize so I wrote to keep me sane. There were also some painful or confusing issues from the past that I still hadn’t resolved, and some of the stories helped me work through them. During the height of the pandemic, writing was also my way of escaping reality and all the madness and suffering around me.
Do you have a favorite piece from this book? If so, which? And what makes them so special to you?
Maybe ‘Everyone’ or perhaps ‘Catharsis’. But each is so different you can’t compare them. Maybe ‘Mother lines’ – I don’t know! I love how in Catharsis, the world changes as she writes it and her feelings are processed to that by the end of the book she has resolved her reality. Then, Mother lines is about the mother-daughter bond and it’s a true story in a way as I did actually see my daughter coming down and into me before I realized I had conceived her.
What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Like all new writers, probably, I didn’t know, and still don’t, whether anyone would end up reading it! That would challenge me on a motivational level. Getting it physically made up and all the technical challenges were terrible. And I am still challenged with the publicity side of things. I have no clue how to publicize the book.
I didn’t go down the traditional publishing route for various reasons. Firstly, I foresaw months or years of sending the manuscript only to be rejected. Secondly, I am keen for writers to explore easier ways to self-publish so that they retain control and have more chance of being published rather than rejected. So I did this myself.
What do you hope your readers take away from this book?
I’d like to think the very short story form (500-800 words) might appeal to readers because it’s barely found. I’d mainly like them to share with me a view on life that is neither real nor fantastical but both. As that is what I think human experience is – a mix between fantasy and reality.
What is the most important thing to keep in mind to get your book published?
You don’t need to be a wallflower dependent on getting a publisher to back your work. Take the steering wheel and self-publish. During that process you will learn a lot of skills and get an idea about the book publishing industry. If you do it once and hate it, you don’t need to do it again but you’ll have a much deeper understanding of the whole process which will nevertheless empower you.
On a typical day, how much time do you spend writing?
What’s your favorite book/s?
Reasons for Hope by Dr Jane Goodall. Dr Goodall is an angel on Earth!
What are you reading now?
I’m reading the autobiography of the writer, Will Self. I knew him when we were young.
Who is your favorite author/s and why?
I love Dan Millman and his Peaceful Warrior series. They are written on a difference level of consciousness to our usual one. They inspired me to continue writing about matters that can’t be seen, heard or measured, but are real.
What is your one advice for the writers out there?
Try to tune into stories that are waiting to be told.
Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with your readers?
I’m working on my next collection of very short stories and poems. I have two novels in my head, too. At the moment, if it was a race, I don’t know which one is going to win!
I thank the author for accepting our interview request and taking time out from her busy schedule to answer all of our questions patiently and sharing her side of the world.
2 responses to “In Conversation with Janie Reynolds”
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Thank you! I am so glad to hear your kind words. I needed so much to hear this.