Friday, November 9, 2012

SPOTLIGHTTING: Janette Rallison/C.J. Hill

Janette Rallison
An Author Spotlight
by Connie Flynn

Janette Rallison (who is also sometimes CJ Hill when the mood strikes her) writes books because writing is much more fun than cleaning bathrooms.  Her avoidance of housework has led her to writing 19 novels which have sold over 1,000,000 copies and have been on the IRA Young Adults’ Choices lists, Popular Picks, and many state reading lists. Her latest are Slayers, Erasing Time, and My Unfair Godmother. Most of her books are romantic comedies or urban fantasies (with romance) because hey, there is enough angst in real life, but there’s a drastic shortage of fantasy, humor and hot guys who want to kiss you.  She lives in Arizona with her husband, kids, and enough cats to classify her as eccentric. In her blog, she discusses the funny side of being a YA author .

To keep Janette on her toes I asked my standard trick question: What question has no one ever asked you that you wish they would.  Here is Janette's well thought out answer.

After sixteen years of publishing, I think I’ve been asked just about every question there is about writing. At conferences people ask about agents, editors, and revisions. Bloggers ask about the writing process, how book ideas happened, and what’s next on the horizon. The really interesting questions come during school visits because kids will ask any and every question that pops into their mind. What is your favorite color? What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  How much money do you make? 
The question I’ve never been asked is: Is it all worth it?  I suppose everyone thinks they already know the answer to this question. The aspiring writers are sure it is, the bloggers are glad it is, and many of the students--when they realize how much money I make--are sure it isn’t.  (The first boy who asked me how much money I made pondered my answer and then said, “So, writing is really more of a hobby than a career.”  It was back then, now it isn’t.) 
Perhaps the best answer to the Is-it-all-worth-it question is: “If you want to know if you’re really a writer, try and stop.” That pretty much sums up life for the avid writer. We’ll write whether it’s a hobby or a career.
The question that surprised me and still haunts me sometimes, came from a young girl during one of my school visits. She couldn’t have had the wisdom or prescience to realize what she was asking when she said, “Have you ever written anything that you regret writing?”
At that moment I thought of every book I’d ever written and the millions of children who have read them. I thought of how books affected me as a child. Some made me want to be a better person, some expanded my mind, some comforted me, others influenced me to do things I shouldn’t have. Books are that powerful. You can’t step into a main character’s skin, live their story, think their thoughts, and not be affected somehow.  Authors are kidding themselves if they think they can step away from that privilege and responsibility.
Standing in that school auditorium, I thought of the story ideas, plot outlines, and random chapters I have on my computer in my Possible Manuscripts folder.  A lot of those story ideas are really good. Some of them might not have the best affect on readers though. I vacillate whether I should ever write those books. On one hand, I as an author want to go on those journeys, to give life to those characters, and experience their stories with them. And doesn’t an author need to be true to a story no matter where it goes or what paths it takes the characters on? Who am I to censor creation?
It’s not the fault of Batman’s writers that some psycho dressed up as the Joker and shot up a movie theater. It’s not Stephenie Meyer’s fault if some misguided folks try to be vampires, or Footloose’s writers fault that teens died recreating car stunt shown in the movie. People are born with common sense and should use it.
But once you publish a book, once it’s out in the world sale and resale, it never goes away. You can’t ever take back what you’ve written. You can’t add disclaimers. No matter what common sense dictates, readers don’t even seem to fully realize that everything a character says or does isn’t condoned by the author. I’ve had people order food for me because I wrote that my main character liked that food.
The books I have out now are fun, romantic comedies and adventures. I write about good characters making mostly good choices. The others stories are still safely tucked away. For now at least, they’ll stay that way.
That's when I looked the girl in the eyes and told her there were books I wish I’d written better, but I didn’t regret anything I’d written. 
I was touched by the poignancy of Janette's answer and it reminded me that writers do important work, something that we so often forget in our scramble to stay in the marketplace.

Erasing Time Janette's latest release. I am an urban fantasy fan and am fascinated.

When twins Sheridan and Taylor wake up 400 years in the future, they find a changed world: domed cities, no animals, and a language that's so different, it barely sounds like English. And the worst news: They can't go back home.

The twenty-fifth-century government transported the girls to their city hoping to find a famous scientist to help perfect a devastating new weapon. The same government has implanted tracking devices in the citizens, limiting and examining everything they do. Taylor and Sheridan have to find a way out of the city before the government discovers their secrets. To complicate matters, the moblike Dakine has interest in getting hold of them too. The only way for the girls to elude their pursuers is to put their trust in Echo, a guy with secrets of his own. The trio must put their faith in the unknown to make a harrowing escape into the wilds beyond the city.

Full of adrenaline-injected chases and heartbreaking confessions, Erasing Time explores the strength of the bonds between twins, the risks and rewards of trust, and the hard road to finding the courage to fight for what you believe in.
Available at  Amazon.

Dramatic twists and turns to the very end ensure readers’ attention and the possibility of an equally thrilling sequel. Kirkus Reviews

Hill leaves the ending wide open for a sequel, and the combination of action and romance—which has become a trademark of the ever-growing trend of dystopian series—will make readers eager for the next installment.

You can learn even more about Janette at her website Janette Rallison.


connie flynn said...

Hi Janette,
Thank you so much for appearing on Much Cheaper Than Therapy. I hope you enjoy your day with us.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I love Janette's books, and she raises such an important issue, on I wish all authors took as seriously.

Susan G. Haws said...

I look forward to reading Erasing Time and appreciate the insight.

Janette Rallison said...

hanks for having me here, Connie. You've always been a great writing teacher and a wonderful support to other authors!

Donna, Thanks! As authors we walk a fine line. We can't show every character in our books making nothing but responsible choices at the same time we've got to consider what people will take away from our stories.

Susan, I hope you like it!

Erin Quinn said...

Hi Jeanette, thank you so much for your candid interview. I love you answer: "If you want to know if you’re really a writer, try and stop." A

Your latest sounds fabulous. I look forward to reading it. Erin

Linda Andrews said...

I've never read your books but they sound great. So, have you ever tried to stop writing?

Janette Rallison said...

Erin and Linda,
Thanks! There have been a few times--generally when I've gotten especially extensive revision letter or when a publisher seems to forget that I exist (Marketing? What marketing?) that I've decided a different career--any career--would be a good move.

This generally lasts for about two days and then I'm back to being a writer. Now I tell myself I can quit just as soon as I write all the stories that I want to write, which won't happen for a long time, if ever.

In the end, I'm writing because I want to read my stories, not because anybody else does. It's just a nice bonus that other people want to read them too.

Britney Gulbrandsen said...

Wow! What an interesting question. I love your answer! Well-put!

Janette Rallison said...

Thanks, Britney. Both questions are really interesting because they make you think. I'm going to have to check and see what other authors answer to: What question do you wish you were asked?

Writers said...

Very interesting responses. Thanks for sharing Connie. Janette is one of my favorite authors.
Margaret Turley

Joan Sowards said...

Well said, Janette. I love your writing!