Monday, 24 January 2011

Author Spotlight week - Q&A with Janice Zick

STEPH: I don't know much about What the Heart Sees. Can you tell me about it?

JANICE: My novel, What the Heart Sees, is about a struggling stand up comedian who has been corrupted by Hollywood's narrow standards of beauty and loose morals until he meets a short, chubby girl from the heartland who wins his affection over time by teaching him the meaning of love.

STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for the novel?

JANICE: My inspiration for the novel came from a character that grew in my mind and became so distinct and quirky that I just had to make him the main character in a novel. He more or less insisted on it—would not leave me alone until I did. Because Ansel Dueseldorf is a fairly witty, aspiring standup, it only followed that the novel had to be written in first person. His one liners really cracked me up. Do you see how real he became to me as I was writing? The theme from the Twilight Zone plays here.

STEPH: Where is the novel set?

JANICE: The setting is LA/Hollywood for obvious reasons where Ansel has lived his entire life, and a woman is not considered beautiful unless she's at least five foot nine, resembles Paris Hilton or Angelina Jolie, and can squeeze into a dress size two.

STEPH: How long did it take you to write?

JANICE: I don't know exactly how long it took to write, but I know it was less time than any of my other novels—maybe just a month or two. Once I knew my main character(s), it more or less wrote itself. It was fun, because I never knew what Ansel and Greta would do next although they were always true to form.

STEPH: Do you like to write in the morning or the evening?

JANICE: I write after my coffee in the morning sitting up in bed wearing my toe jams. Some days, if my muse is working well, I don't get dressed at all. Usually though I only write for about three hours at a stretch. I find that after that I'm fairly drained creatively.

STEPH: Tell us a little about where you live.

JANICE: I've lived in Wisconsin my entire life. The small town I live in—Cedar Grove—is very near Lake Michigan twenty minutes south of Sheboygan and forty-five minutes north of Milwaukee. Wisconsin is the dairy state and stomping ground for diehard Packer fans called cheeseheads who drink a lot of beer probably because they eat a lot of salty brats. I myself do not imbibe as beer gives me a headache.

I have, however, been known to eat a fair number of brats.

Wisconsin has many lovely lakes, even more than Minnesota. Our winters are very cold, our summers are very hot, our springs are rainy although May can be lovely and our autumns, if the conditions are right, can be ablaze with color.

If you sit in one of our fast food restaurants for any length of time, you'll learn there are lots of short, chubby women like Greta living in Wisconsin. You would count me among them. I consider them real women unlike the Hollywood wannabes that parade through my story. Jeanine Gerafalo (sp?) called them “freaks of nature” in one of her comedic monologues. I laughed my ass off, which was wishful thinking, because when I turned around it was still there.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

JANICE: I'm definitely a panster. When the characters are well formulated in my mind, they just do what comes naturally. I give them lots of rope (at times to hang themselves,) and they are in charge of the twists and turns in my novels. I was active in drama during my high school and college years. I like to write in first person, because I find myself getting in character and becoming that person. (More Twilight Zone music here: Do do do do, do do do do.)

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

JANICE: I've been writing off and on for the last ten to twelve years.

STEPH: Do you have any hobbies you'd like to share?

JANICE: My hobbies are reading and sculpting angels, nativity scenes and other figurines from polymer clay.
My favorite past time is being with my three young grandsons, who are growing up way too fast.

I plan to buy a Kindle very soon.

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