Jan and I have been friends since we reacquainted ourselves on the now defunct Slush Pile Reader. I had previously seen her on the forums of HarperCollin’s Authonomy. She handled the nice and not-so-nice authors with wit and compassion. This impressed me. I think that she and I gelled over our appreciation for mystery stories with dominant, flawed heroines and our love of writer’s tags. Jan is the first person who mentioned that I should publish my work as e-books on Amazon so that others could read them - she had already entered that area and had done quite well. I thought that if she was brave enough to face the public, then I better pull it together and follow in her footsteps. Starting out on your own is scary, but when you have a supportive friend like Jan, it’s not too bad.
Jan, like me, is a writer of multiple genres. I thought it might be interesting to ask her a few questions so that all of us could get to know her better.
Besides writing, Jan, could you please describe what you do for a living, aka your day job?
I am a teacher/writer for an online school called Free World U. I have worked there for almost eight years and it has been the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. After getting a degree in Elementary Education, I quickly became disillusioned by the public school system and kind of felt as if I had wasted my time in college. Free World U inspired me and reminded me of why I wanted to be a teacher.
I previously mentioned that you were a multi-genre writer. What genres do you write in, and which one is your favorite?
I love all kinds of stories. Mysteries are my favorites to read and to write. I also enjoy the paranormal because like the freedom of having characters that have no earthly ties to dictate their behavior.
What authors have inspired you?
My two favorite books are Gone with the Wind and The Stand. What they have in common is a very interesting story with well-developed characters who stay with you. I find that it can be a fantastic story, but if I don’t like the characters, I’m probably not going to read the whole thing.
Steven King has always been one of my writing heroes and I aspire to be able to write characters like his. I am also a big fan of funny mysteries written by people like Janet Evanovich and others. I love to laugh and I like to make people laugh.
In your Trailer Trash mystery novels, your character Charlene is a caffeine-driven author who manages a holiday trailer park for a living. I find her most refreshing. Where did you get the idea for Charlene and her habits?
Charlene is a combination of me and my four daughters plus other women I have known along the way. I like her because she is strong but also very soft.
Many of the other characters are loosely based on people I actually met while my husband and I managed a trailer park on the coast of Mississippi. I say loosely because I had to tone them down a lot to make them believable.
You have also written a fine ghost story called Wisteria and Wood Smoke. I love stories based in or around New Orleans. What made you set the inn in the fictional town of Wisteria in the first place?
I am a southerner born and bred and I love the South. New Orleans is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. It is such an interesting mixture of cultures and there is always something fun going on there. I wanted a small town for the book, so I made one up close to one of my favorite cities. That’s one of the things I love about writing—it’s your world and you can create it any way that you want it.
In Unlikely Angel, I found that the character Suzi was tailor-made for Kristen Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies, Glee, and Wicked). I remember asking you about that when the book came out, but you didn’t know who she was at the time. Do you ever place actors, actresses in the books you have written?
Not really. My characters take on a life of their own in my head and kind of decide who they are and what they look like.
What are you writing now?
I am not currently working on anything fictional. I’ve been busy with work. Charlene is having a bit of an identity crisis and we can’t quite settle on what is going to happen next in her life. I have had a few false starts and hope to get on with Beach Trash soon. My plan was to move her to Florida, my favorite place, but Maggie pretty much put her foot down about that, so they will be staying in Mississippi.
What other passions do you have?
My family. I have a big wonderful family and I love them all with all my heart. They are why I am who I am and do what I do.
Below are Janice Ivy's books! Click on the pictures to be taken to the Amazon page to learn more.
Taking Out the Trailer Trash Series
Wisteria Inn Series Standalone