// you’re reading...


Janice Gallen p3

Mystery author Janice Gallen talks about her favorite books...

READERSVOICE.COM: There is a lot of description of the everyday lives of Clyde and Meg in south-west Sydney, but it doesn’t become boring because the story is strong. Was this influenced by Maeve Binchy and what do you like about her writing, and what are some of her books you’ve read and liked?

JANICE GALLEN: What I like most about Irish author Maeve Binchy’s writing is her well-drawn characters and use of humour. I try to keep the setting down to no more than five-six lines per chapter. I wanted to keep the Pilleys as everyday people involved in extraordinary circumstances. If there is any similarity between my writing and that of Ms Binchy it wasn’t done consciously. I’ve read quite a few of her books, though none of the latest ones. Some I’ve read are: The Glass Lake, Circle of Friends, Ihe Lilac Bus [inter-related short stories], Scarlet Feather, Evening Class, The Copper Beech. I’ve moved away to reading mostly mysteries nowadays.

RV: In Dark Visions, Clyde is investigating a suspicion of a martital affair, and ends up seeing his brother in a suspicious meeting at a motel. So do you start the character with a problem and this leads to another problem? What are some story creation techniques you’ve learned?

JG: I’ve read lots of self help books about story writing techniques over the years and I think some of that has sunk into my brain. I don’t consciously work out the problems but think ” How can I make this more interesting?” and see what I come up with.

RV: You mentioned you might be writing a book set on a cruise ship. Have you worked out the story for that yet?

JG: I’ve started the cruise ship story and introduced six new characters. So far I’m letting the characters decide on the direction of the story. All I know is that it will involve fraud ( with perhaps a murder thrown in) When I’ve written a bit more ( I’m proceeding very slowly with this one as I have lots of distractions) I will most likely sit down and do a rough outline for a few chapters, then write some more.

RV: What questions do you ask yourself when starting to write a mystery? Do you kind of go into a meditative state, like Meg, and picture a murder at a bowls club, for example, and then ask what happened?

JG: Yes, I do quite a bit of thinking. I’m not sure if you’d call it meditating. I particularly thought a lot before I started with Meg and Clyde in DV, deciding on their characters and interests. But as I said, I then let the characters take over for a while.

RV: Meg’s psychic powers change from Dark Visions to Scent of Evil. Do you think these kinds of powers could corrupt, as they say, and would you foresee Meg having these sorts of problems?

JG: No, I think Meg’s powers have progressed naturally from card reading to psychic impressions. I’ve seen this happen before. I haven’t visualised her having dark forces surrounding her, or her becoming part of them.

RV: The humor is good in Dark Visions and Scent of Evil, with characters like the irritable Clyde. How important is it in drama, like crime, do you think?

JG: I think humour is almost a necessity in cosy mysteries as the story is usually slower than crime stories and involves more ordinary people. I needed to keep the reader’s interest.

– See Janicegallen.com.