Interview With Author Janice Lane Palko

How would you describe your books?

I’m strange in that I don’t write in one genre. I write romantic suspense and romantic comedy. Everyone says write a series because it’s easier to attract and keep readers, but why would I make things easy on myself? My books have an inspirational aspect to them too. I like to make bad things happen to essentially good people to see how they will react and grow into even better people.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

In my case, I have to be a grammar Nazi because my day-job includes being an editor of a magazine. I try to be pristine in my writing out of respect for my readers. I aim to give them my very best.

Writers are often associated with loner tendencies, any truth to that?

I would characterize myself more as an observer than a loner. I like people and I like being around people, but I’m comfortable being alone. When I’m with people, I’m always observing their mood, how they act or react, what they say. You have to be a keen observer to be a good writer.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Finding the time to do it! With my other writing employment, I have to place those tasks first and try to carve out some time for writing novels.  I’ve learned that there is never the perfect time to write.  I do the best I can with what time I have.

How would you feel if no one showed up for your book signing?

Ah, that has actually happened to me. When I released my first novel, St. Anne’s Day, in 2012, I was scheduled to appear at a local library. I live in Pittsburgh, and no one noticed that the book signing was scheduled at the same time the Steelers were playing on Monday Night Football.  No one came.  They were all watching the Steelers. Still, the two librarians and I had a good time chatting about books!

Do your novels carry a  message?

Yes, I think they do. I like to write about characters changing their life for the better. I like to offer hope with a happy ending. My novels are a bit unusual as they are Inspirational but with a Catholic flair, although I’ve had many readers who aren’t Catholic or even Christian tell me they enjoy my stories. Everybody needs hope.

Any advice to aspiring writers?

Write because you love it, because you have to do it. Money or success may never come along with it, so you have to be willing to work hard for the love of story and expressing yourself.

How realistic are your books?

I try to make my books as believable as possible. I love it when readers tell me they feel like they know my character or that they can picture a setting vividly in their mind.

Do you like traveling or do you prefer staying indoors?

I absolutely love traveling. My next book, Our Lady of the Roses, is set in Rome, and I just came back from there. I love connecting with other peoples and cultures and learning their history. For instance, while we were in Rome, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would have been like to be living in the glory days of the Roman Empire.

Which of your books took you the most time to write?

My first book took the longest because I didn’t know how to write a novel. Now I have a process that works for me, and I have more confidence in what I’m doing.

Are all writers rich?

I wish! No, I’d say most writers aren’t rich. I still cook, clean, grocery shop, etc. I often tell my readers that some of my best ideas come when I’m cleaning toilets! Mindless tasks enable the mind to roam free.

What does the word ‘retirement’ mean to you? Do writers ever retire?

I honestly don’t think I can retire. Writing is who I am, not what I do. If my work begins to slip though, I don’t think I’d make my readers suffer with inferior work.

When can the readers expect your next book in print?

I have a romantic comedy called Our Lady of the Roses coming out in November.

Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid?

I’m the oldest of four children. My mom had four kids by the time she was 27, so I’m sure she didn’t have lots of free time to just sit and read. However, I remember her reading me Jack & Jill and loving the second verse (not many people know it–Up Jack got and off did trot as fast as he could caper to old Dame Dob who patched his knob with vinegar and brown paper.)   The assonance, language, and rhythm stuck with me.  Both my mom and dad read more the older we kids got.  I never needed encouragement to read. I was a born reader, I think!

Do you blog?

I do blog. My blog is called The Writing Lane.

Do you have a library at home?

I have several vices: shoes, kitchen gadgets, and books. I don’t have enough room to keep all the books I’ve read so instead of a library I would describe what I have as a “Literary Hall of Fame.” I keep books that have had a great impact on my life. If I keep the book, you know it’s a good one.  I’m also one for passing books around.  I think sharing a book with someone is an intimate experience!

In case one or any of your books honor the big screen, which book would you like it to be?

I’ve had numerous people tell me that Most Highly Favored Daughter would be a fantastic movie. I’ve even taken a screenwriting course to try to create a screenplay from it, but I find screenwriting very difficult.

Which writer’s work do you believe most resembles your work?

I like to think that my romantic suspense novels most resemble Mary Higgins Clark’s works. I’m weird. I also write romantic comedies, and I hope those are as snarky as a Janet Evanovich book.

Have you received any awards for your literary works?

Yes, Most Highly Favored Daughter has received two awards: The Author Zone Award for Inspirational Fiction and an Indie Book Award for Inspirational Fiction.

When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?

Goodness no! I thought writers smoked pipes and wore tweed sport coats with elbow patches. I knew no writers, so I had no aspirations to become one–that seemed too remote for someone like me. Although I was an excellent student, I couldn’t afford to go to college, so I went to secretarial school and worked as an Executive Secretary for seven years before I had twins and stopped working. In high school I was on the newspaper and yearbook staffs and was president of our Writers Honor Society, even writing an essay for my talent portion when I was a contestant in the local Junior Miss Pageant.  I have been keeping journals since I was 11 too.  I think I was always a writer, but I just didn’t know it! I didn’t seriously start writing until I was in my early 30s.

Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?

I read all the time, but still not as much as I’d like. I read across the board. Right now I’m reading four books: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, Garrett Graff’s The Only Plane in the Sky; Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, and a book on writing in deep point of view.  Though paranormal or fantasy doesn’t interest me much, I loved Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander Series and I enjoy Beth Webb Hart’s books as well adoring Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series.

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