Interview with Janet Macleod Trotter (conclusion)

Q. What makes a writer great?

JT. I think that’s very subjective –we don’t all like the same books. But I suppose the writers I admire most are the ones who create a world so vivid that you remember the characters and places long afterwards – they can change the way you see the world. Books that have done this for me that spring to mind are, The Great Gatsby (Scott Fitzgerald), Passage to India (E.M. Forster), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) and The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver).

Q. and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

JT. This can vary! I usually do about 6 months of research and gathering material before mapping out a storyline. Then I write a synopsis so I know where the story is going and how it will be resolved. This isn’t always strictly followed but it’s the blue-print for building the story, allowing for variations along the way. I write character profiles which are added to as I write the novel (these are really important when writing a series as I record their physical features, dates of significant events, relationships etc. that can be referred to when writing the follow-on books).

It takes about another 6 months to write the novel. My technique is to edit as I go along. Each day I begin by going over what I have written the day before and re-write it, before moving on to the next scene. When it’s all written, I’ll put it aside for a week or so and then go back to it and re-edit the whole manuscript. After this it will go to an editor and be given further edits as well as being copy edited and proofread. I make sure this happens for my independently published novels too – everything must be professionally done.

In search of family home in India

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JT. I hope it has enriched my writing. As a writer you may not use actual incidents from your own life but you certainly use your own emotional response to make a novel realistic. How else can you feel your way into the inner life of your characters? More directly, I have used the experience of my younger self going on the overland trail to India. I used the diary I kept as an 18-year-old for the background to my mystery novel, THE VANISHING OF RUTH. I was writing it 30 years after the event so wanted the setting to be authentic – I certainly wouldn’t have remembered half of it without the prompt of my diary!

The one big traumatic event that I did use in an early novel was my experience of a stillborn baby. I did so partly as therapy for me and partly to make others aware of how deeply it can affect people. At the time, 30 years ago, society tended not to acknowledge such losses or encourage bereft parents to talk about it. Now, things are handled much more sensitively. THE HUNGRY HILLS is dedicated to our firstborn son.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

I have written a couple of mysteries which I greatly enjoyed, and I’ve also written a childhood memoirs. But my default setting is historical novels!

Q. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

Writing is a very solitary way of life and to produce anything a writer must put in hours and hours of work. So I just want readers to know that if you’ve ever taken the time and trouble to contact an author and let them know you’ve enjoyed their book, you have done a wonderful thing! I get giddy with gratitude if a complete stranger gets in touch and thanks me for giving them a good read. You have no idea how much pleasure that gives in return – and the inspiration to carry on!

Did you miss Part I and Part II of this wonderful Interview with Janet?


MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?     Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.   June: Mehreen Ahmed.  July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we say ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon. September: Dylan Callens
                                         Check out more Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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One thought on “Interview with Janet Macleod Trotter (conclusion)”

  1. I have just read and enjoyed the 2nd part of the interview with Janet. I loved the India Tea series as well as her other books and look forward to the next one.

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