Thursday, January 2

An Interview with Jana Richards by Janie DeVos

     What better way to get started with a new year than to learn a little more about each other, so, that’s exactly what I decided to do with fellow WordWrangler, and friend, Jana Richards.  You just never know what goes on in the life —and mind—of a writer, unless you ask.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Jana a little better.  I know I did.  She’s a pretty neat gal!

Happy Reading!

Janie DeVos

1).  Jana, when did you first realize you could write?

I’m not sure. Maybe it was when I wrote a book report in high school that my teacher accused me of plagiarizing from a “real” writer. Or maybe it goes back even further to elementary school. My very first Dick and Jane book had no words because, duh, none of us could read. The story was told in pictures and it was our job to put words to that story. I remember being pretty good at that.

2).  What was the first piece you wrote that made you realize you are a writer?

It was the first book that I submitted for critique to my writing group. They took the book seriously and didn’t mock or tell me not to quit my day job. Some of them might have even said it was pretty good. I think it was the fact of being accepted by other writers that made me feel I belonged.

3).  Have you ever worked at a job that involved writing?

I do some writing for my current job. I’ve written a couple of articles for our newsletter – riveting stuff about worker’s compensation. For several years I’ve interviewed and written short articles and speeches about members of our association who are being honored for their accomplishments. And I do a lot of proofreading. I check over documents like press releases and newsletter articles that my colleagues have written. Proofreading my own work for so many years has made me pretty good at it.

4).  Who has influenced your writing?

Probably every writer, especially every romance writer, that I’ve ever read and enjoyed. I really admire Suzanne Brockmann’s romantic suspense. You can’t beat Mary Balogh for historical romance. And I’ve always loved Nora Roberts for just about everything.

5).  What kind of novels do you enjoy reading?

I enjoy a lot of different novels. I like historical and contemporary romance and romantic suspense and mystery. Every now and then I like to throw in something more literary. And I also enjoy non-fiction from time to time.

6).  Is there any other genre of writing you'd like to try moving ahead?

I would love to write a mystery series. I’d love to combine my love of mysteries with my love of history, especially the history of World War Two. So far, that’s about the only idea I have, but some day I’d like to flesh it out.

7).  What is your favorite part of writing?

I love the planning/plotting stage of writing when I come up with ideas about what happens in the story and the people the story will be about. I love making up back stories for characters.

8).  What is your least favorite part of writing?

Writing the first draft. The first three chapters are great. I’m excited about the story and the characters. This is the best thing I’ve ever written! Then, once I get into the middle of the story, the plot I so carefully worked on no longer seems so wonderful. This is the worst thing I’ve ever written!

That’s been the pattern for the last several books I’ve written. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that if I persevere until “The End”, I can take that crappy first draft and work wonders on it in revisions.

9).  What moment stands out as being one of the best as a writer?

It was with my first published book and my first editor. I painstakingly went through the (long) list of edits the book needed. She made a suggestion about the number of times I used the word “smiled”. It was a lot. I went through the manuscript and eliminated or changed as many as I could. My editor told me that taking the time to do the work made me “a real writer”. I’ll never forget those words and I’ll always appreciate her saying that to me.

10).  What moment stands out as being not-so-good?

I went to a conference once where everything went wrong. Or at least, events didn’t live up to my high expectations. I thought I was going to final in a contest the conference was running. I didn’t. I thought I’d have the opportunity to interview a big-name writer who promised to speak to me. It didn’t happen. Some of the attendees weren’t all that friendly. The weekend was one disappointment after another, to the point where I seriously considered quitting writing. I really might have quit, except for an email I received the day I got home, telling me that I’d finaled in another writing contest I’d entered. I also received an email from the big-name author. She apologized for not having the time to meet with me during the conference and offered to be interviewed by email. There’s always highs and lows.

11.)  Do you have any advice for upcoming writers?

I’d tell new writers not to get into this business unless they plan to work hard. You need perseverance and something of a thick skin to make it in this business. You also need to be prepared to keep learning, not just the craft of writing, but marketing, too. Marketing knowledge has become an essential part of the business of writing, and one of my goals this year is to up my game in this area.

But I think my most important advice is to enjoy the process of writing. Do you want to write a book or do you want to have written a book? There’s a difference. If you don’t enjoy the process of writing, if you don’t want to make the time that it will take, then maybe this isn’t the business for you.


  1. A great interview. I was that disappointed in a conference I went to, too. It really makes you think out your priorities, doesn't it?

    1. I usually have a lot of fun at conferences, but this one was a disaster. I probably had too many high expectations - I really thought I'd get an agent there and win a contest, and on and on. Totally unrealistic and I set myself up for disappointment. These days when I go to conference I don't have any expectations other than to have fun and learn something.