Janet Tan, born and raised in the exotic, jungle-covered peninsula of west Malaysia, is a post-graduate student of accounting and management living in Adelaide, Australia. If pressed, she couldn’t tell you how old she was when she first held a book in her hands but ever since she was taught to read, her “full-on European nose” could be found buried in a book.
In her formative years, she grew up in a high-rise apartment. Other kids would be downstairs running around with their friends, playing and shouting and being children in general while she’d be sitting indoors reading yet another new book. It wasn’t that she was anti-social; being their only child and hard to come by, her parents just preferred that she was safe within their sight. Yes, she was brought up to be seen and not heard, to only speak when spoken to, and her mother – bless her soul – was not one to spare the rod when absolutely necessary. That is not to say that she doesn’t appreciate how she spent her time. Her childhood was a mishmash of adventures in strange lands and fictional planets, thanks to her local library.
Enid Blyton was her favourite author when she was younger. Her work sparked Janet’s imagination as a child. She started writing her own stories in her early teens and has never stopped since. She always knew she had a gift for words and languages because she is her father’s daughter. He is a veritable Jack-of-all-trades, having worked in many industries throughout his life. He has been an interpreter, a teacher, a writer and many more other things.
Janet finds that she expresses herself best through the written word and it is on paper that she’s most verbose and communicative. When it comes to things that she cannot bring herself to tell someone, she writes it down and that part of her, the emotions that she’s experiencing at the time, are then validated. To her, the art of writing is the greatest gift she was ever given.
What inspires you to write?
Emotions and ideals are two of the main things that inspire me to write. I’m very much an impulsive, idealistic person so whatever gets me fired up, also gets my creative juices flowing.
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process? Usually I start off with a seed of an idea, something small and very definite, say the view from a cliff, and I build a story around it. I ask myself, what else do I see apart from the cliff? I look up and down and around me in this virtual world and I pull in the details that work for the seed. And as I said before, I’m propelled by my emotions so everything that ends up on paper is very personal, even if it may not be obvious.
I’m definitely a seat of the pants writer hands down when I first start off. The initial inspiration shoves me ahead, much like a steam engine, and I always allow it. Once the first bout of steam has been released, I then sit down and flesh out the skeleton that I have formed. I’m a little more traditional. Even though I have some software that is supposed to be great for writers to sketch out their outlines, nothing beats a good old pen and sheet of paper. I start creating my character sketches after I have the bare bones of my story. So once I know there’s a quirky young female or a young man with an inappropriate yet charming sense of humour, I give them other little characteristics, fill out their background information, their history and heritage. Usually I create a little too much, going back way too far on their family trees but only because bloodlines and heritage fascinate me.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I talk to animals, sometimes to the point of having full-fledged conversations but when it comes to my characters, I prefer to listen. I don’t feel the need to make my presence known. Sometimes I prod them into little situations and I observe their reactions like a genius mad scientist with a God complex…
What advice would you give other writers?
Never be afraid to do what you love but if you want reliable feedback on the quality of your work, go to a professional instead of your loved ones.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Self-publishing works for some but I’ve always wanted to be published by a company. I went on several writers’ forums and was directed to MetaPlume. I am glad that I found them as I have had all positive experiences with my editor, publisher and marketing agent.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
As long as there are readers, there will always be a demand for books and a market for book publishing. It may shift even more towards e-book publishing as we are already beginning to see, with society’s increased awareness of environmental-friendliness and protecting our limited resources, but books will always exist in some form. Books are immortal!
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
What formats are your books in?