Janice Cairns

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Born in Ayrshire and educated at Ayr Academy Janice Cairns has had an assortment of jobs.  She’s worked in child-care, law, insurance, media and creative writing.  Janice lives in Edinburgh now, the city has been home to her for the last thirty years.  It is here that her dream of becoming a writer is coming true.  This last year she has polished her debut novel, ‘Forgiving Nancy’, which is being released on the 4th of October, 2014.  She is absorbed in the marketing for this novel currently and does feel her days in advertising have helped with the marketing aspects of her being a writer today.  In the last year or so she has also spent time developing her social media sites such as Facebook, twitter and her blog.  She loves to keep these pages thriving and also is loving taking the photographs she does for her sites.  Her main passion being writing, though, it is no surprise to her to find she has a second novel brewing and evolving within her. Already some plans are gurgling in the pipeline for what might follow ‘ Forgiving Nancy’.  Janice’s life could be described as a happy mix of active marketing for her first novel and laying some foundations for what is to come.  She finds time in her busy schedule to enjoy walks at the Botanic Gardens or by the sea or even in the busy beautiful city she lives in.  She has always considered her walks as important to her as she thinks these activate her creative thoughts and actually inspire her to write.

1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I think I got into writing in a gradual way. I began to write up diaries and journals when I was about fifteen years old. I liked to keep a record of things I had done. It was like a hobby. Then, as time travelled on, when I reached my twenties and my thirties, I began to write short stories. I wrote at greater length and in more detail as time went on. When I got into my forties I was taking my writing much more seriously and it was during this period I began to think of creating a novel. You could say, I evolved into a novelist from my love and habit of writing.

When I decided I definitely wanted to create a whole novel I began to look around me for more ideas. When I got all my plans and ideas sorted out, then outlined the details which would develop my characters, I began the process of piecing the novel together. I sat down to write the book when I saw the novel in my mind like a film.

2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? On a usual writing day I will begin to write from about 8.00 a.m. I will write for about three hours, adding as much as I can to my work-in-progress. Then, I have a break over lunchtime for about an hour. Sometimes I take a walk over a lunchtime. This gives me time to think over what I’ll add to my WIP in the afternoon. In the evening, at no particular time, I will have a read through what I have written that day. This gives me a good idea how I will progress the following day.

3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? In my journey as a writer, thankfully I have not had writer’s block. If I found myself to have it I would go and read as many good novels as I could find. I’d see that as the first step to solving it. Reading good novels is an inspiring experience, and, if I have been inspired greatly, then I think that positive experience would be a trigger to my own creativity and my own writing.

4. Are you a plotter/panster when it comes to writing a story? I plot and plan a story up to a point but not completely. I always allow for some spontaneous development because I think by doing so it makes for a more natural sounding story. Also I feel more comfortable going into a story that is not planned and plotted too rigidly. I feel it allows for more creativity, allows the imagination to be used more.

5. What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I was lucky to find the publishers I did and found the publishing process to be a very positive and growing experience. The advice I would give to aspiring authors is to try to find a publishers who are a good match for the book you have written, who can see your book’s merits, who want your book to be the best it can be. Finding the right publishers can be the key to the book’s success.

6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? My highlight since becoming a published author was at the Morningside Library in Edinburgh where I signed my very first paperback copy of ‘Forgiving Nancy’. This was a special moment for me, a moment I will always remember.

7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish.

From chapter 12 of ‘Forgiving Nancy’

‘Speaking of the Elliots, I’m certain that was Nancy Elliot accompanying her husband last Friday afternoon. They were coming through the door of Mr Elliot’s bank, on to George street. Around three o’clock it was.’

Stella at once seized the opportunity of quizzing Vincent about the recent sighting of the Elliots.

‘What was Nancy wearing?’

‘A most elegant suit in the colour of heather and she carried an expensive leather handbag in the same colour. She was also wearing a simple black hat and black gloves,’ reported Vincent.

‘It must have been Maxwell’s idea to get a suit like that. Indeed, these are changed days. When she visited me here before the wedding, she was dressed as any ordinary girl would be – smart and plain, nothing special. But it does sound as if Maxwell has put his stamp on her or at least is trying to do so’. Stella paused, then burst out. ‘But, you see, Vincent, she’s been put into these elegant and stylish clothes, but underneath the beautiful cuts, the perfect folds, the exclusive fabrics, the designer suits – Nancy Elliot possesses no personal style, no panache! She’s not old enough to have developed it.’

She paused for breath, then started up again.

‘Then, apart from her lack of cultivation, there’s the matter of her education, she’s had little education you know – I can’t help but feel that a man like Maxwell will be too much for a girl like Nancy – too much of an intellectual heavyweight – she’ll not be used to thinking so profoundly and so philosophically about life as Maxwell does and of course, she knows nothing of the business world, the world that Maxwell inhabits. Unless Maxwell has the idea of educating her himself. I know he likes to mould people.’

8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I like to visit places that are an inspiration to me. These would include visiting art galleries, walking in the botanic gardens or on the coastline. Some of my spare time is also devoted to catching up on the writing of other authors. I love reading novels, autobiographies and poetry. I also make time for meeting friends for coffee and lunch; sometimes I will go and see a film with friends.

9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)  The tip I would give is to join Facebook and twitter and some of the other social media sites. Also I’d say you should build up a blog site. Devote a certain amount of time each week to this but don’t overdo social media, it’s not a good idea to be on social media 24/7. I’d also advise a new author to arrange as many book signing engagements as they can. Signings can be in local libraries, in hotels and in coffee shops. Try and give an interesting talk about your book especially when the signing is in a library. People like to hear a bit about a new book by a new author and they often like to ask questions about a book before they buy. Make time after the talk so as to invite some questions from the audience. You’ll find people love to connect with an author in this way. I’d also say tell your friends to tell others about your book. This is a good way to spread the news about your new novel too.

10. How would your describe your style of writing? Much of what I write is visual and descriptive. As you read often you can clearly see what I am writing about as if I were painting a picture for the reader. I like to think I have an artistic style of writing too.

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