Janette Rallison is about a cool a lady as you can hope to meet, deliciously fun and kind to boot. She writes funny, clean, delightful teen chick lit. Her latest crosses over into the fantasy realm (come to the dark side, Janette! You cannot resist!). I gobbled up My Fair Godmother in three days (supa-fast for slow poke me) because I just kept wanting to turn those pages. So I hollered down to Arizona, "Hey Janette, will you do a blog interview?" and she said, "I'd love to. Just let me know when so, you know, I can wear my skinny jeans." So here she is, in skinny jeans, the fabulous Janette Rallison.
SH: How much discovery do you do as you write? Did you know the plot for My Fair Godmother from the beginning, or do you discover things along the way and make big changes?
JR: I always think I know the basic plot of my novels before I start them, but then while I’m writing I realize I knew less than I thought.
This is the same experience I’ve had with men, parenting, many things really—so it’s not a surprise any more. Life is learn-as-you-go.
When I started My Fair Godmother, I knew what was going to happen for each of Savannah’s wishes. But when she went back to the Middle Ages to help Tristan, and met the mysterious yet sexy Black Knight, well, all sorts of things changed. That’s why it’s dangerous to introduce mysterious and sexy Black Knights into your stories and why most authors avoid them.
If you had three wishes with the usual stipulations, and Chrissy was your fairy godmother, what would be your first wish?
I’d probably wish for a better fairy godmother. I mean, really, what kind of wish is Chrissy going to get right? That said, it would be very tempting to wish for a self cleaning house. Fame and fortune might backfire on you, but what’s the downside of dishes that jump into the dishwasher of their own accord? I get choked up just thinking about it.
What makes you laugh?
My children. Teenagers are especially funny. Luckily I have a large supply of children so I’ll have story ideas for years to come. I don’t know what I’ll do when they finally all grow up and leave home though. I’ll probably have to go to the mall and stalk random teenagers, just for book ideas.
I have this wonderful vision of your home, full of shenanigans and giggles and baking cookies. Don't you dare spoil that dream, I don't want to hear about any mundane existential household, but what is the Rallison home like?
I had to think about this question for awhile. Actually, I do think my children are more apt to joke around and look on the lighter side of things because I do it so frequently. I was feeling good about this until I asked my twelve year old daughter if she thought our house was different than her friends’ houses.
“Definitely,” she told me. “I do way more jobs than my friends. And you take me shopping less. Oh, and my friends have better things to eat at their houses.”
Doesn’t that just sound like every other twelve year old in the nation? So yeah, I guess our house isn’t really all that different.
Probably every book event I do where there are adults present, I'm asked, "How do you write with kids?" The obvious answer, "I don't write with kids--they're too unwieldy. I use a computer." But besides that, how do you do it?
I have a fourteen year span between my oldest and youngest child which means my entire writing career has happened in-between taking care of little kids. I was actually pregnant with twins when I got my first book contract.
You can’t wait for a chunk of time to write a novel, because those chunks of time don’t exist when you have five children. Before my youngest started kindergarten, my goal was to write two pages before I took a shower and got ready for the day. Which is why on any given day you could find me in my pajamas at two o’clock in the afternoon.
Sometimes it took a long time to write two pages. And sometimes it didn’t happen at all. But even if you can only write a few paragraphs a day—and I got good at scribbling things down while waiting at dance classes and soccer games—after enough time you’ve got a whole book written.
Also, don’t ask me how frequently I cleaned my fridge out. It’s best not to know those things.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
There were so many fun characters in this book, it’s hard to pick just one. I loved the longsuffering dwarfs who have to put up with an air-head Snow White. I also loved Chrissy, the valley girl fairy godmother with her sometimes brutally true observations about our society. And of course the Cyclops was fun because he had such a hard time deciding whether to eat the heroine or not. I think most of us could relate to that predicament.
I have a bookshelf in our family room where I put books I've read that I want to share. My babysitters know where to go for the good stuff. Recently when I came home, our awesome sitter Kayla had found My Fair Godmother and was 50 pages in. She begged to borrow it and brought it back later with rave reviews. "I loved how Janette Ralison brought a teen story to life! For example; the swimming pool scene where her bathing suit top came off, and then she ran into the boys dressing room because she couldn't see! That cracked me up! I could really see someone do that! Plus it brought back a memory where I accidentally walked into the boys bathroom at the movie theaters!
Also my favorite character in the book is Tristan, because he's so cute and full of muscle! He's my hero! My Fair Godmother is amazing!" She had some questions for you.
KAYLA: Did you have to study about the Middle Ages before you wrote My Fair Godmother?
For years I’ve planned to write a historical romance, so I’ve read tons of books on the Middle Ages. I’m not sure when I’ll ever get that romance done, but luckily I didn’t have to do much new research for My Fair Godmother. (This is just another example of how procrastination works for me.)
KAYLA: Are you going to write a sequel to the book?
I don’t have one planned at this point, but it is in the back of my mind. One just has to wonder what Chrissy will do for her next extra-credit fairy godmother assignment. Someday I might have to set her on some other unsuspecting teenage girl.
Thanks, lady! You are, as always, the life of the party. By the way, I still owe you $2 for tipping that guy who made a balloon Spider-man for Max. I won't forget!