How did you get the idea for this new series? I’m having so much fun reading it Janice!
My father moved our family from Houston to L.A. when I was eighteen. Like gazillions who had walked the road before (and after) him, he wanted to get in the movie business. Unlike most, my father actually had connections - writers, directors and so forth. He was also filled with ideas. So, off we went, traveling from the humid south to a fabulous home in Bel Air West. That summer changed my life and set the stage (metaphorically speaking) for the “Backstage Pass” series. I wrote the entire series to honor my father and to thank him (posthumously) for encouraging me to join the screenwriter’s guild at such a young age. He saw something in me that I could not see in myself at the time. . .a writer.
What was your favorite scene to write in your book, Hello Hollywood? What was the hardest? Why?
My favorite scene in the book was the “How to build a hero” (er, gyro) scene. I had such fun coming up with all of the “ingredients” for the perfect guy. As for the hardest scene, I would have to say the scene in the swimming pool. Many of my readers are teen girls and I needed to make sure Athena’s first kiss (in the pool) wasn’t too steamy. I tried to carefully/cleverly underwrite it with some funny bits that writers everywhere could truly appreciate!
Can you give us a sneak peek at what you have cooking up next? Can you tell us something about it?
I’m in the process of editing The Director’s Cut (book three in the Backstage pass series.). Book one (Stars Collide) focuses on Kat, the lead actress in the “Stars Collide” sitcom. Book two (Hello Hollywood) focuses on Athena, the head writer. Book three (The Director’s Cut) is about Tia, the female director of the show. She has some major control issues! While she’s great at keeping order inside the walls of the studio, her life outside those walls is pure chaos, thanks to her wacky family.
I enjoyed reading about the brainstorming sessions the writers had on the set. Have you ever been in that situation? If so, is that really what happens? Who writes the ideas down? How do you capture what you all talked about?
I’ve written in a group setting many times, primarily for the stage. (Your readers might not know this about me, but I write and direct musicals for a local Christian theater.) Many of our productions are joint efforts. There’s something so energizing about writing in a group setting. One idea leads to another, which leads to another. Of course, we have to reel ourselves in on occasion. Sometimes we get carried away and end up with a play that’s several hours long! I try to write down everything, then weed out the unnecessary, leaving only the best parts.
Have you ever written for T.V.? If so, what surprised you about writing for T.V. how is it different than other writing you’ve done? What is your favorite part about writing for T.V. if you did do that?
I haven’t written for television, but I did write a movie (Liar’s Moon) back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. I was a member of the screenwriter’s guild at the tender age of eighteen. Movie formatting is completely different from the layout of a novel (and I should add that formatting a screenplay doesn’t come naturally to me). However, dialogue does come naturally to me. Whether I’m writing for the stage, the screen or the written page, I still “see” my stories played out like movies in my head and manage to get the characters to talk to/through me. My favorite part is adding the comedic bits to make the audience (and/or reader) laugh. Ah, what joy!
When you wrote about Bella and your wedding planner series that family was Italian and in this new series this family is Greek and each family is all about their family recipes. Which food to you like most? Greek or Italian? What is your favorite dish?
I have a little confession to make—with the exception of Baklava, I’ve never really eaten Greek food. I’m nuts about Italian food, though, especially Fettuccini Alfredo with grilled chicken. Oh, and I love Caesar salad. It’s a favorite. I also love ten thousand other Italian dishes…far too many to list here! When my oldest daughter got married back in ’04 we served several Italian dishes. Yum! I’m putting on weight just thinking about it!
Since your other series was written in Italy, I wondered if you’d ever been to Italy? If so, what did you like best? If not, what had you always dreamed of doing there?
I have not yet been to Italy. Speaking in faith, I will one day get there. Several years ago our family planned a ten-day trip across Italy (by train) but it didn’t pan out. I’m still devastated when I think about it. (See Question #2 below for more on Italy!)
Janice, I noticed that you have my name in the book as one of the characters; I know I wasn’t your inspiration for the part but it made me wonder how you come up with names of your characters. Some authors have contests, others use family names, I just wondered how you came up with your characters names?
I hope this doesn’t shock anyone, but I get most of my names from the Internet, particularly social networking sites. I try to look for names that match the personalities of the characters, but I also look for names that fit the ages/generations. For instance, my name is Janice…not really a popular name for a twenty-something in 2011. I would never give a twenty-something character an outdated name. Because I have four daughters in their twenties and thirties (and they have a multiplicity of friends on facebook) I have a large pool to swim in, where names are concerned. I should add that getting the names right takes time and practice. I’ve written whole books and then changed the names of the lead characters because I couldn’t live with their original names. Sometimes this happens because I get to know the characters as the story progresses and realize (near the end) that the name I’d initially chosen no longer fits. (I know, I know…this sounds like a lot of trouble! It’s not. It’s worth it all to get the right fit.)
I'd Love for you to share some fun pictures with us! Have any?
|Martha Rogers, Carla Hoch and Genesis finalist Bethany Macmanus|
|Me and |
|Me and my mom|
QUESTION I JUST HAD TO ASK!
If you had a “Free” day to do anything at all (money and time are not an issue) what would you love to do?
I’m pretty sure I would take all of my children and grandchildren to Disneyland. The kids are (mostly) old enough now to enjoy the experience. I’d love to be able to say, “Money’s no object! Nina’s taking everyone to Disneyland!” (And yes, I still prefer Disneyland to Walt Disney World in Florida. It brings back so many memories of my childhood.)
If money or time weren’t a factor where would you like to vacation? Why?
Oh, this is easy! Italy. I dream of one day going. When I close my eyes, I can see the various cities—and countryside—on the insides of my eyelids. I can hear the crowd in Rome, feel the movement of the boats on the canals in Venice, smell the foods in the small villages and towns. I can picture every tiny detail, and I can see myself smack-dab in the middle of it all!
What movie most affected you as a child? Why?
The musical “Carousel” was my favorite movie as a child. I saw it eleven times by the age of twenty (and that’s really saying something, because we didn’t have VCRs or DVD players back in those days). I think I loved it for a variety of reasons: I’m nuts about musicals and I appreciated the songs and dances in that particular show. Most of all, though, I loved the song “My Boy Bill” because my dad’s name was Bill. He would go through the house singing, “My boy Bill, I will see that he’s named after me.” (The backstory to this is that my parents really did have a baby boy named Billy. He was born two years before me, but passed away when he was four.) Something about hearing my dad sing that song from Carousel always stirred my heart.
What were your three favorite TV shows growing up? You know the one’s you couldn’t miss each week?
I was crazy about the Dick Van Dyke show. (In fact, I’m still crazy about it…so much so that I used it as a foundation for Hello Hollywood.)I Love Lucy was at the top of the list. Loved, loved, loved her antics. I also loved Leave it to Beaver. There was something rather charming about all of those old black and white shows—an innocence we don’t see in today’s sitcoms. (You’ll notice all of my favorites were sitcoms, which should tell you a little something about why I chose a sitcom as the “setting” for the Backstage Pass series!)
What were your three favorite children’s books growing up?
I always loved Little Women. It’s still a favorite. Besides that, I would have to confess that I read every single Bobbsey Twins book ever written before I turned eleven. When I ran out of books, I wrote one! (Yep, I wrote my first book in Jr. High!) I was also nuts about Trixie Belden.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS--THOUGHTS FOR MY READERS JANICE?
Life gives me so much material for my books. I don’t think my well will ever run dry because I’m surrounded by people, places and things that stir my heart and my imagination. I would like to thank my readers for journeying along with me, living vicariously through the lives of my characters. What fun we have, traveling together! (And who knows?! Maybe we’ll all make it to Italy one day!)
Thanks so much Janice for stopping by and yes I'd like to make it to Italy too! I am Italian and have dreamed of going there for a long time! Who knows we might go there on the same tour! It could happen! Grin!
Thanks letting us get to know you and your books. I’m looking forward to MONDAY , OCTOBER 17th 9p.m. Giveaway event at The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org that will feature you and your new book Hello Hollywood on that day. I'm Excited that Revell will be giving away FIVE copies of your gook on that day! Thanks also for giving away a book with this interview on my blog.
MANDATORY - PLEASE ANSWER THIS QUESTION to be entered in the drawing.
1. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW GROWING UP?
2. DO YOU LIKE ITALIAN FOOD OR GREEK FOOD BETTER?
Answer One or Both !! Love to hear your answers!!
DRAWING WILL BE - OCTOBER 20th
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ALL THE BEST TO YOU
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