by Michelle Ristuccia
Janet Edwards lives in England. As a child, she read everything she could get her hands on, including a huge amount of science fiction and fantasy. She studied Maths at Oxford, and went on to suffer years of writing unbearably complicated technical documents before deciding to write something that was fun for a change. She has a husband, a son, a lot of books, and an aversion to housework.
SFFWRTCHT: When did you decide to start writing? How did you begin?
Janet Edwards: I don’t think I ever did decide to start writing. I loved books and daydreamed stories as a child, and dabbled in writing, but never believed I could become an author myself. As an adult, real life took over, and time was in short supply.
SFFWRTCHT: Did you study writing in school? How did you learn your craft?
Janet Edwards: In the autumn of 2007, I had some free time and decided to have a serious attempt at writing. I signed up for a two hour a week creative writing class. You mostly learn about writing by reading a lot and writing yourself, but the class taught me things about laying out a manuscript, different types of writing, and styles. My initial goal was to write something and suffer the ordeal of letting someone else read it. My long term ambition was to get a short story published.
SFFWRTCHT: How long did you write until your first sale? What was that?
Janet Edwards: It depends what you count as a sale. The first short story I wrote came second in a competition, won me some money, and was broadcast on BBC local radio. My first actual sale was the Earth Girl trilogy, so just over three years.
SFFWRTCHT: What aspect of Earth Girl came first? Characters? Plot? Setting?
Janet Edwards: What came first was the concept of a future where only the handicapped, those with a fatal allergy to other worlds, lived on Earth. Originally, I tried to build a short story around it, but the idea was far too big. I spent a year dreaming up a whole future society, and then Jarra walked into my head and started telling me her story.
SFFWRTCHT: What sort of pre-writing did you do for Earth Girl? Did you outline?
Janet Edwards: I didn’t outline Earth Girl. I had my whole future setting worked out, like an empty stage, and Jarra walked on to it. A hurt and angry girl, who claimed she didn’t care when really she cared to breaking point, told me her story. When I reached the end, I threw away some sections that weren’t really part of the story, and shuffled the order of some others, to impose some structure on it.
SFFWRTCHT: What’s your writing time look like? Planned time? Grab it when you can?
Janet Edwards: I wake in the morning and write until I have to do something else, or the inspiration for that day runs out.
SFFWRTCHT: Do you use any special software or music playlist?
Janet Edwards: I mostly just write using Word, and I don’t play music when writing. My head is totally in another world, or at least another time, so I wouldn’t hear background music. I do have a trigger piece of music that puts me straight into Jarra’s head.
SFFWRTCHT: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Janet Edwards: I’ve found if I have writer’s block, then it usually means there’s something wrong with the previous chapter or two. I have to go back and look for the problem.
SFFWRTCHT: What role do beta readers play, if any, in your process as a professional author?
Janet Edwards: I’ve never really worked with beta readers, partly because things happened unexpectedly quickly with Earth Girl. When I was going to the writing class, I read a few short stories to them, and my husband helps by reading my books for me.
SFFWRTCHT: What advice would you give an up and coming writer?
Janet Edwards: Write a lot. It’s the best way to get better.
SFFWRTCHT: Are you involved with cons and fandom? Cosplay?
Janet Edwards: I go to several of the UK cons, and enjoy seeing the costumes, but I don’t do cosplay myself because I’m not creative in that way.
SFFWRTCHT: Where did your love of specfic and science fiction in particular begin?
Janet Edwards: As a child I was an avid reader, and my father had a lot of science fiction and fantasy books, so from about eight years old I was reading about fantastic and future worlds.
SFFWRTCHT: Who were some of your favorite authors/books growing up?
Janet Edwards: I was reading books by all the classic science fiction and fantasy authors. I can’t give you the whole huge list, but three were Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, and Roger Zelazny.
SFFWRTCHT: What future projects are you working on that we can look forward to?
Janet Edwards: Earth Girl is the first part in a trilogy. The sequel, Earth Star, is complete, so I’m currently working on the final book in the trilogy.
Michelle Ristuccia writes short fiction of all speculative fiction genres in between chasing her toddler from tree to tree. The shorter the work, the better, because 200 words looks very long on her cellphone and that keypad is very, very small. You can find out more about her rabid love of writing, podcasting, and raising future geeklings at her blog, wakingdreamsblog.blogspot.com