Author Profile: Janice Cheal
Sussex author, Janice Cheal, mixes important fact with exciting fiction in her novels. We spoke to her about her writing process and why this book is so timely.
Hi Janice. Where do you find your inspiration?
I grew up in Germany as my father was attached to the British Armed Forces. From the age of seven I was exposed to and experienced many different things that I believe made me hungry for knowledge and gave me a questioning mind that I feel is reflected in my books. I have written three novels: High View (2010), The Bee Keepers (2013) and The Deverills (2016), and they all share the common theme of travel.
Have you ever found inspiration in an unusual place?
Yes! For my first novel, High View, my inspiration came from a visit I made to Santander in Spain and a day trip to the nearby town of Santillana del Mar and the Altamara Caves dating back to the Palaeolithic period. The caves inspired the novel, which explores aspects of religion.
What is your writing process? How do you research?
I think the research takes up most of my time when planning a new novel. After choosing my subject I put together all the different elements involved and write the end of the novel in the early stages. I think that writing a book is like going on a journey in that if I know my destination it becomes an exercise in filling in all the bits around it.
How long does the process take you from initial idea to a complete first draft?
There is no hard and fast rule with how long it takes to write a book but would say it can take anything from 12 to 18 months to produce a first draft. I have started work on my fourth novel, which has a time travel theme and what I believe is an original approach of looking back at history.
Your book, The Bee Keepers, is is a fictional tale but also one with a factual message about the serious decline in the world’s bee population today and the effect this is having on our food chain. Do you often use your writing to explore societal issues?
No, The Bee Keepers is the only book I have written so far dealing with a serious subject. The book generated interest from organisations such as the government, the National Health Service and from professionals in further education too; it has also been professionally script written by my publisher.
What about your background? What did you do before you became a writer?
My education was very chequered with moving back and forth to Germany, so in 1991 I embarked on an Open University course in humanities and I attained a BA (Hons) in humanities and a diploma in European humanities. I thoroughly enjoyed the research involved with the degree and writing in some way became a natural extension to this. I must admit though that I secretly harboured a desire to write a book from the age of 15.
Janice’s books are sold by Foyles, and are also available from Rye and Bexhill libraries.