Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Author Interview: Janette Rallison

Back on July 18, 2007, I began my Author Interview Series, with an interview of my friend, Janette Rallison. She just keeps writing wonderful novels for young people (and full-fledged adult readers, too!). Today we're spotlighting one of her two forthcoming novels, My Fair Godmother. Janette lives with her family in Arizona.

Welcome back, Janette! How long have you been writing? What made you start?

I've been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. It's sort of an affliction, really. I blame it on an imagination that gets bored easily and is always looking for something more exciting to think about.

When did you sell your first book?

My first book, Deep Blue Eyes and Other Lies (Deseret Book) came out in 1996. I really credit this book to all the help I got from my writing group, American Night Writers Association. They were a great help and support in critiquing the novel, and one of the bad date scenes came from a member's real life. (And she ended up marrying the guy.)

What type of writer are you? Do you plan ahead/plot or do you simply fly by the seat of your pants?

This will surprise people who know me--because I'm a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of person--but I have to have some basic plot points of the story figured out before I start writing. I have to know what the main character's problem is, how she/he plans to solve it, some of the obstacles that will prevent this from being easy, and what's going to happen in the climax.

Of course that's not to say that things don't change as you write. I almost always get stuck at some point and have to change things around a little.

How do you choose your characters' names?

I get characters' names in a few different ways. The main characters are almost always the names I liked, but my husband wouldn't let me name our children. I spent a couple of books using my nephew's and niece's names. My children's friends also make appearances. I also did a book signing last year in which I told people that if they bought a book, they could put their name on a list of names I would use in upcoming novels. That was a great way to get names. I think I'll do that again sometime.

What is your daily schedule like?

After I get the kids off to school, I tell myself that I will spend an hour going through email and then I'll write for the rest of the day. Somehow I get sucked into answering letters, reading lists, working on upcoming events, doing marketing things, etc., and suddenly I only have a couple of hours left to write before the kids come home. Sometimes I get to shower in all of that. Writers really don't have glamorous careers.

How do you handle life interruptions?

I get sidetracked easily, so I'd have to say not very well. But still, writing is much easier now than when I had preschoolers at home. I guess no matter what time of life you're in, if you want to write you have to make it a priority and protect that time.

Do you write with music playing? If so, is the music likely to be songs with lyrics or only instrumentals?

I can't write with anything with lyrics playing and usually don't write with music at all. There was a medieval book that I was working on, and for that I did listen to music from the time period to help set the mood.

What food or snack keeps the words flowing?

I admit it, I'm a snacker when I write and chocolate is my weakness.

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?

I love, love, love it when a scene just comes alive when you write it and the characters jump off the page and do all sorts of clever and amazing things. It seems like magic when that happens. You can't wait to share what you've written with the world so they can be amazed too.

My least favorite thing is doing revisions. Editors, it turns out, are very hard to amaze.

Tell us about My Fair Godmother. Also, when will it be available for purchase?

Surprisingly, I got the idea for this novel from a road show I'd written. (See, it really does pay off to say yes when your church asks you to write skits for them.) The theme of the road show that year was fractured fairy tales. It turned out really cute, and I love fairy tales anyway. (I always wanted to be a princess.) So I decided to write it into a novel. I thought it would be fairly simple and straight forward but as I started writing, the book just took on a life of its own. (This is what happens when you add mysterious and sexy Black Knights to your book, and why I always recommend to authors that they add a few to every story line.)

Here's the premise:

After her boyfriend dumps her for her older sister, 16-year-old Savannah Delano wishes she could find a true prince to take her to the prom. Enter Chrissy (Chrysanthemum) Everstar: Savannah's gum-chewing, cell phone-carrying, high heel-wearing Fair Godmother. She's only a Fair godmother because her grades in fairy school weren't great, or good, but just, you know, fair.

How is it possible for a fairy godmother to screw up wishes so badly? Fairly easily, if she doesn't really listen to the wish to start with and finds the whole business of granting wishes tedious. They cut into her shopping time, after all. So why not just decide which fairy tale the wish best resembles, and slap the mortal into the middle of it? Problem solved, until those pesky "Help me!" messages start rolling in.

Chrissy sends Savannah back in time to the Middle Ages, first as Cinderella, then as Snow White. Finally she sends Tristan, a boy in Savannah's class, back instead to turn him into her prom-worthy prince. When Savannah returns to the Middle Ages to save Tristan, they must team up to defeat a troll, a dragon, and the mysterious and undeniably sexy Black Knight.

My Fair Godmother will be in stores January 6th

What is your next project?

Just One Wish comes out in March, and it's a great book. I'm also revising a Sci Fi novel and waiting for the (dreaded) revision letter for my next novel, Faking It.

What is your advice for other writers?

Learn as much about the craft of writing as you can. It will make your job sooo much easier. Then make writing a priority and do it.

What other work of yours has been published?

I have 15 novels, so I won't list them all, but some recent titles are:

Revenge of the Cheerleaders, 2007
How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend, 2007
It's a Mall World After All, 2006
Fame, Glory, and Other Things On My To Do List, 2005
Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws, 2004
All's Fair in Love, War, and High School, 2003

Thank you for the Interview.

My Fair Godmother was a ton of fun to write and I think people will really enjoy reading it, too.

Please go visit Janette's website at JanetteRallison.com to find out about her other tremendously funny books. She also writes Janette Rallison's Blog.


  1. great interview! Looks like a fun book and a wonderful author. Yay for ANWA :)

  2. Love the interview. Janette is a great writer and she's hilarious.

  3. Very interesting interview, Marsha. I've written Young Adult, too. I like to refer to them as coming-of-age stories--I feel it draws adults into the story, too. It sounds like Janette is someone I'd like to know.

    Mary Trimble

  4. Great interview. I will definately put Fair Godmother on my shopping list next month.
    You can always count on a great read from Janette.

  5. Janette,

    I love the title of your new book and your advice about Black Knights. Yes indeedy, they do add excitement. I agree completely. Nice to see you doing well. Hope I see you soon.

    Connie Flynn

  6. Thanks for visiting and reading, everyone. Janette is a wonderful writer and a terrific person.

  7. Nice interview. I can certainly relate to the things Janette said about writing. It's a wonderful experience when the characters come alive and take over the plot. :)

    Another seat-of-the pants writer

  8. It is always fun to see what Jeanette is doing. She's great!


I welcome your comments.

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