As promised, I will also be doing a book give-a-way with not one, but TWO of Janette's books: How To Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend and her newest book My Double Life. You can be entered into the drawing two ways: leave a comment or become a follower of my blog (scroll down and look on the right-hand side of my blog to do this). The drawing ends October 1st at midnight, so make sure to leave your comment before then!
And now, to introduce Janette:
Janette Rallison is a prolific writer who has written 16 books, with more on the way. Most of her books are targeted at the young adults audience, though they're a good read at any age. Aside from this, she is a funny, gracious author who writes literature that manages to be clean, age-appropriate, and totally entertaining.
What got you interested in writing?
I’ve always been a daydreamer. Some kids have imaginary friends. I had a whole city. And since you can’t remember all of those daydreams, you’ve got to write them down. Becoming a writer just seemed like a natural step.
Many of your books are for or about teenagers. What has drawn you to this genre?
I have three big reasons—my daughters. I write the kind of books I think my daughters would like reading: funny, uplifting books, with good-hearted heroines. Not all teenagers are filled with angst, hate, and disillusionment. Not all parents are self-centered cretins who either ignore their children or use them to boost their own egos. These facts, however, are not readily discernable if you read a lot of YA books. I like to think I’m a counterbalance to that sort of stuff.
Also, teenagers are fun to write about because everything means so much to them. It’s hard to get as much emotion from adult characters.
A lot of people feel that in order to write successfully for teens, you have to be edgy or push boundaries. Do you agree with that? What do you think are important themes or elements when writing for that age group?
There is certainly an abundance of edgy YA books and a lot of them are successful. Sometimes I hear authors talking about pushing boundaries and I wonder which boundaries they’re talking about. As far as I can tell, all the boundaries have pretty much been bulldozed over. It’s to the point that if you want a G-rated book for your teen, you have to really look to find one. But I’m proof that YA books don’t have to be edgy. Mine aren’t, and I’ve sold over a million copies.
I think the themes and elements for YA books are limitless. If it’s a good life lesson, it can be in a YA book. What I hate to see are misleading themes though. My personal pet peeve is all the sex in YA books. The overall message of many books seems to be that if you’re in love it’s all right, and if you use a condom you’re safe from consequences. Love doesn’t guarantee commitment and condoms don’t prevent all STDs. There are 19 million new STDs every year and half of those happen to young people. Many aren’t curable and will cause pain, infertility, and cancer. I think if anything, we need to be warning teens against having sex, not inadvertently encouraging them into risky behavior.
You use a lot of humor in your writing. Knowing you personally, I know that you are naturally funny. Does it come easy to you in your writing as well?
Writing humor might be easier for me than for a lot of authors, but humor is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult type of writing to do. I’ve loved writing every single one of my books, but the problem with writing funny books is that people then expect there to be humor in your next books. I never know if a book is going to be funny or not when I sit down to write it, and I’m always worried that it won’t be and people will be disappointed. It’s a lot of pressure and I’m always so happy when I think of something funny to include. That said, I’m writing a paranormal romance right now that I decided from the start would have no comedy in it. To tell you the truth, it’s been nice.
Is there one aspect of writing that you really enjoy? Is there anything about it that you really don't enjoy?
My favorite part of writing is when I’m working on a scene and ideas flow and it turns out better than I ever expected. I feel like I’ve been a part of something magical when that happens. My least favorite part of writing is getting revision letters and realizing I have to make all sorts of changes. Doing revisions is sort of like playing the block game, Jenga. Sometimes you can take things out or put things in and it doesn’t really change the structure of your book. But sometimes editors ask you to make changes (or you realize on your own that you need to make the changes) and you don’t know how you can manage it without having the whole thing fall apart.
You have a big family. How do you balance that with your writing career?
Well, in theory I write when the kids are in school and stop when they get home, but a lot of this year I’ve been behind in deadlines and I’ve been working every moment I can squeeze writing in, and not showering, and feeding the kids frozen dinners. Lesson learned: do not take on too many projects. I’m hoping next year will be more sane.
Do any of your kids want to be writers?
I have one daughter who talks about it, so who knows.
When I was little, I remember the first book that really moved me. Do you have one that did that for you? What are some of the books that you feel have influenced your life?
One of the first books I really loved was The Phantom Tollbooth. When I was a bit older, I loved reading Ellen Conford’s books. Anyone who has ever read Ellen’s teen books will be able to tell how they influenced me. She wrote funny, romantic stories. My style is also a lot like hers—conversational and easy to read. She wasn’t heavy on description or poetic ways of saying things. Her books sounded like they were narrated by teens instead of English professors masquerading as teens.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is interested in becoming a writer, what would it be?
Learn the craft and read a lot. I don’t think you can be successful without doing both of those things.
Is there anything you'd like to share about what you're working on right now? What can we look forward to in the future?
My Unfair Godmother comes out April 12th. It is teen fairy godmother, Chrysanthemum Everstar’s, next bungled assignment. Expect to see appearances from Robin Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, and another ill fated trip to the Middle Ages. Lots of fun.
I’m also working on (doing the dreaded revisions, actually) a book that has dragons in it. It’s lots of fun too. Then maybe I’ll get to work on my paranormal romance again. Or maybe I’ll just shower . . .
Thanks again, Janette. If you'd like to learn more about her and her books, just check out her link on the side of my blog!