Janet Quin-Harkin is a woman who impressed me so much when she moderated an event at CrimeFest back in 2008, that I have remained a silent fan ever since. So I was pretty pleased to find she has a past as a writer for teens, and now her 1989 HeartBreak Café novel No Experience Required is being republished. Which I think is good news.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity to find out more about Janet, so here she is:
How many books did you write before the one that was your first published book?
Not many. I think I sold on my first or second try, but then I had a long dry period before I sold again.
Best place for inspiration?
Driving around in the car or doing laundry.
Would you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Perhaps you already do?
I wrote my children’s and YA books under my married name. I use a pseudonym for my mystery novels so that I was not judged as a children’s book writer.
What would you never write about?
Anything too horrible; torture, hurting children or animals, demonic possession.
Through your writing: the most unexpected person you’ve met, or the most unexpected place you’ve ended up in?
The most unexpected person I’ve met in my books? Probably Houdini. And the most unexpected place I’ve ended up – a freak show on Coney Island.
Which of your characters would you most like to be?
I’d like to be my current heroine, Lady Georgie. In spite of having no money, she does seem to lead a fun life – and she has the gorgeous Darcy O’Mara pursuing her.
Do you think that having a film made of one of your books would be a good or a bad thing?
It’s happening right now. A movie’s being made by Matador Pictures of Her Royal Spyness. I’ll have to wait until I see it before I decide if it’s a good or bad thing. It might be nice to have the Heartbreak Café books made into a series or film.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked at an event?
Are writer Victoria Thompson and I really the same person? ( We both write historical novels set in New York.)
Do you have any unexpected skills?
Many – I can open champagne bottles, play the harp, sing opera, tell jokes.
The Famous Five or Narnia?
Oh Narnia, definitely, although I grew up on the Famous Five.
Who is your most favourite Swede?
Abba, all of them.
How do you arrange your books at home? In a Billy? By colour, or alphabetically?
I’m not that organized. One lot of shelves for my work reference. Several for fiction. One for good looking, leather bound books.
Which book would you put in the hands of an unwilling eight-year-old boy reader?
Harry Potter. He’d be hooked for life.
If you have to choose between reading or writing, which would it be?
Writing. I can’t live without it.
This time you had to read the Q&As before I could let on about Janet’s pseudonym. But she is – of course – Rhys Bowen. And she has very sensible advice for eight-year-old boys. I must admit I’m looking forward to the Her Royal Spyness film. It should be really good. (As would a film about Molly Murphy, I reckon.) In the meantime you could do worse than read Janet/Rhys’s books. Enjoy!