Author Interview: Janet Woods

There comes a time in every writer’s life when they go searching for inspiration and the odd thing is – inspiration can be found in the oddest places.


People often ask me where I come up with the idea for a story. Is it the characters that first start the clogs moving in my mind, or is it something else, a place, a personal experience or just something completely out of the blue? In truth, it can be all of those things and more.


I recall the moment I found inspiration to write The Rose’s Bloom. While on a family road trip to a local water hole called, Berry Springs, I had been sitting on a rock by the water’s edge, watching my hubby and son paddle around in the shallows, thinking that if it had not been for the sweltering tropical heat, I could have almost pictured the scene from an old historical novel. It had been that night that I sat down, my trusty laptop perched high in my lap, that I started to write. Thus, The Rose’s Bloom was born.


Though each author creates their worlds differently, so let’s find out how the fabulous Janet Woods creates hers and a little more about the lady herslef.


Where do you call home?

Fremantle. Western Australia.


What is you most indulgent pleasure?

Licking the chocolate from a Hob Nob biscuit before eating the biscuit part. It makes the chocolate last longer and exercises the tongue (only when nobody's watching though). D - Oh, nice!


Coffee, tea or a cocktail, like me? 

I was made in England, so Tea.


Are you a Masterchef? If so, want to share a recipe?

This is a joke question, right? My adult children said it is. They say they were raised on Irish stew, Scottish stew, Welsh stew and hearty English stew. The recipe? Throw whatever ingredients you have into a pressure cooker. Turn the heat off twenty minutes later. Whatever emerges from the pan is dinner.  D - A joke question? Never! Guess what my family is having for dinner tonight?


What was your first job?

My first job was at the age of 15. It was in WH Smith's Bookshop in Bournemouth, which is in the South of England. I was a junior assistant in the juvenile books department for the grand sum of thirty shillings and ninepence a week. I stayed there for 3 months then got a job at twice the pay as a trainee waitress in a top hotel. Mostly that consisted of polishing silver, setting tables and being general dogsbody to the waiter, who got to keep the tips.   


What is your favourite type of hero? (Damaged, rogue, quite achiever?) 

They all work for me, as long as they have hearts of gold. In my trilogy "Tall Poppies" I had two heroes. The first was damaged, the  other was quiet and dependable. The second book in the series was called 'Secrets and lies" and has an achiever. The final book, and my upcoming release, "I'll Get By?' has a hero who has everything anyone could wish for in life. He is still a rogue, though an intelligent one who has flaws. Oh, and if anyone thinks I'm taking the opportunity to sell my books here, they can be borrowed from the library, since I write for library publisher Severn House. (Okay, so paperbacks, large print, audio and E versions are available from several outlets online. :-)


And how does this mix with your favourite type of heroine?

I try to make my heroines relate intellectually to their men. Physical attraction is fairly easy to create, but they need to meet on a mind level somewhere. Like real relationships, you sometimes need to dig deep to connect them. 


Do you prefer love at first sight between your characters, or do you make them work for it?

Physical attraction comes first, romance develops. I lean towards mainstream romance, in that I like to set my romances within a story, usually where the heroine is in some danger, from poverty etc. I don't write highly sexual books, which doesn't mean I don't write sex scenes. It depends on the book, the era it's set in, and the personality of the characters.


It has been said that “Men like to watch their porn, while women like to read it.” Do you agree with this?

It seems to suggest that men would rather watch it being performed than be part of it, while women take a more imaginative approach to getting their porn based thrills. Either way, they are doing it alone and in private. I have to say that I haven't studied porn, so I don't really have an opinion. I don't dislike erotic love scenes if they're part of a good story line, but I think I might draw the line at out and out porn.


How long have you been writing for?

22 years. In that time I've had published about 35 books and 40-50 shorts. I won the R*by in 2002 with my first historical romance. That, along with other of my early books, is now available in E form from Belgrave House


What made you put your pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in the first place?

I read a romance while in hospital, thought I might be able to write one, so went home and did write one. It was awful!


Why do you write what you do? (Erotic, historicals, sci-fi etc)

I like writing historical romance/saga of any era. Firstly I like researching, and the historical woman had so much to put up with, and in so many ways that it naturally leads to conflict. But historical writing is not all upper crust with ladies in frilly frocks dancing the night away with perfectly mannered gentlemen. There are stories of real grit - of people so poor that they starved in the streets or died prematurely from illness. Amongst those there are people who rise above their birth. I tried to portray this in "Lady Lightfingers," which has been described by one reader as Dickensian, but with more light and shade. I like writing everything really. What I like about writing historical is that it never dates, in that you never have to modernise it with a mobile phone or a motor car.   


Care to share one of your character inspirations?

I've been inspired by Alan Rickman, who some of you may remember from the Harry Potter movies. He is a wonderful English character actor who has the talent to get right into his character and make it his own. Although he doesn't know it, he's always cast as the squire in my books. 


Do you research for your stories, visit the places you write about or do you simply go off the hoof?

I usually write about the place I was born and brought up - Dorset, in England. I have more of a feel for it than anywhere else. I have many, many books on Dorset I can refer to. 


What is your favourite book of all time?

Hmmmm . . . I love all of Sharon Penman's big books, but the book that appeals most to my heart is, "How Green was my Valley" by Richard Llewellyn, which was first published in 1939 and is set in a Welsh mining town.


What is the fan/author interaction moment that you’ve experienced so far?

I get quite a few letters, mostly flattering, and very welcome. It makes you feel good when a complete stranger takes the trouble to write and tell you how much they've enjoyed what you've written. One letter that gave me a bit of a giggle said, "I couldn't put it down and cried my eyes out all weekend."  There was an embarrassing moment  when somebody at a library talk said how much she'd enjoyed my books. It dawned on me as she itemised the bits she'd liked best, that she'd got me mixed up with another author, but I didn't embarrass her by telling her so.


How do you expand on your craft? Do you attend writing conferences etc?

Conferences are always good for making contact, making new friends, catching up with old ones and having your confidence bolstered. I can't get to them all now. Mostly I just keep on writing, and I belong to a critique group, Wordwrights. We meet and critique on a regular basis. 


How is your bookshelf organised? Alphabetically or in total disarray, like mine!

Like yours! D - Well, that makes me feel better. :-)


Jenet has offered all you lucky readers a chance to win a hardcover copy of her amazing story, Lady Lightfingers. All you have to do is answer her question below in the comments;


Question: Which of my books won the R*by in 2002?



Janet Woods

A British born Australian author, Janet writes popular fiction. Has about 30 novels published or pending. Published by Robert Hale, Simon & Schuster and Severn House. Most are also available in Audio and large print. 


Her first historical romance came third from over 600 manuscripts novels entered in the Random House/ Woman’s Day competition in 1996. After publication, the same novel won the mainstream section of the 2002 Australian Romantic Book of the year award. Her genres encompass mainstream fiction, historical saga and historical romance. Her earlier out-of-print works are gradually being made available in E form by Belgrave House. 


She also writes short stories. With many short stories published in popular women's magazines at home and abroad, a selection will shortly be made available in collective form. She also has stories for children published in educational series by Oxford University Press, the Spinout Sapphire series with Pearsons (Aus) Harcourt UK and Puffinalia magazine. Janet’s work has been included in five anthologies and various writers’ newsletters. She has won, or been placed, in several competitions. She has also acted as competition judge and mentor.


Janet belongs to writers’ organisations in Australia, UK and USA, and is an honorary life member of The Society of Women Writers, West Australian branch.



Janet's latest book, I'll Get By is availible now!


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