The High Quarterly

Janet Pywell 06/07/2014
Janet Pywell

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I have always enjoyed reading. I loved English Literature and earned an ‘A’ at O and A level. The English teachers at the High school were really good and encouraged diverse discussions on the interpretation of books and texts which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Even though I have always creates stories in my head, it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties and living in Spain that I began to write. My passion for writing has grown over the years and I have tried to use my experiences and observations abroad to widen the perspective on my writing.

What is your most memorable moment from your time at Spalding High School?

I was good at sport and played in most teams. I played hockey in the first X1 and for the county and for the High School Old Girls - on Saturday afternoons. I also ran shorter athletic events and cross country. At the time I even broke a few existing records but I am sure they have been broken since then.

My most memorable time would be in the sixth form when we were encouraged to debate, discuss ideas and develop our creativity. I was lucky that there were like-minded girls who enjoyed a variety of reading materials. At the time, like most things, I didn't appreciate this experience as much as I do now looking back.

What subject did you enjoy the most at SHS?

You have probably guessed that I loved English Literature; I can still quote small sections of Macbeth and the Merchant of Venice. But my one regret is probably not continuing with Art. I loved art and the art teacher at the time was inspiring. However I felt that taking the geography option would take me further in my career in the Travel and Tourism industry. 

I also dropped History which is now a mystery for me, as I love history and art and enjoy researching both to add depth, quality and interest to my novels.

This probably goes to prove that the choices we make when we are young do affect our lives and give us certain opportunities, but there is no reason why we cannot return and study the things that interest us in life in the future. I think it is important to keep all options open to stimulate our minds and to learn and to enjoy these processes.

Did going to school in this area inspire you for any of your stories?

Although I continue to return to Spalding to visit my mother, I have only just set one of my novel in the Fens.  I am experimenting with a fantasy novel that involves Phoenix Rose who receives her Witch’s powers on her sixteenth birthday. She goes to the Gifted Academy for training where she meets her anti-nemesis and falls in love with a Prince. It is a story that involves witches, werewolves and paranormals. The setting of the Fens will be more prominent in the third part of the book as the flat location is scenically captivating, beguiling and alluring. I am hoping to finish this novel at the end of this year or the beginning of 2015.

How would you describe your style of writing?

I deliberately try and write in different ways. I am blogging a romantic novella in real time for two Australian magazines, online each week. This is a real challenge as blogging means I write 500-1000 words weekly. The writing has to be concise, the plot has to move the story forward and the dialogue has to be sharp. There isn’t room for waffle so it is a great exercise in writing discipline and techniques. Editing is a huge part of writing, a comma or a full stop can make all the difference to a reader’s attention span. 

As a novel, The Golden Icon has pace. Set in modern day Italy, Ireland and Germany I have used my traveling experiences to add authenticity bringing towns and cities to life. Josephine Lavelle, an opera singer, is blackmailed by her ex-husband into collecting a stolen artefact but events don’t go as planned and she is forced to confront her past actions and make amends for her past, as ruthless men are determined to kill for the precious Golden Icon.

The format of the novel is arc-shape which reaches a crest before the final denouement. My intention was to create a standalone book but also leave it open for a trilogy and the subsequent episodes in the heroine’s life. I hope I have sufficiently engaged the reader to make them want to read on and find out what happens. I am now working on the second novel Masterpiece which involves forged art work and stolen paintings.

Red Shoes and Other Short Stories is an eclectic mix of tales written over several years in Ireland, Spain, Bosnia and Portugal. My style changes according to the theme of the stories; some of them like Jasmine, or The Chickenman’s Grandson are undulating like a sea but then Well-Trained and Three Days Dead are more punchy in rhythm and the tone changes, adapting with the theme of the story.

Again, this is only my interpretation, perhaps many readers will disagree with me, and if they do I would be delighted as it means they are giving thought to my work and also to what they read. If my writing stimulates thought, then for me, that creates excitement and enjoyment. I hope other readers feel the same.

What would you be doing (career-wise) if you were not writing?

I formed my own successful marketing company in Northern Ireland ten years ago which I ran until two years ago when I decided to write my first novel, so I guess that I would still be involved in that. However, I have also been involved for the past thirty years with the travel industry so that would probably feature heavily in my life too. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to live abroad and travel widely and it has given me understanding and experiences that I could never have dreamed. I have met many interesting people, shared lifestyles and cultures and it has been a privilege to learn about life and history through their eyes. 

Incredible as it may sound, my dream job would probably now be as an art historian. Someone who knows about paintings and culture and can relate it to the past with interest and humour. 

St. Stephen’s Book of Short Stories 2014

I have just had the pleasure of working with some amazing students from St. Stephen’s Junior School in Canterbury to promote the importance of writing in celebration of National Book Week.
Each 7-10 year old student wrote a one hundred word story. All have been a delight to edit and publish because the stories reflect the imagination, humour and insight of each child and their ability to tell a tale within challenging limits. Their work is both entertaining and inspirational.

If you would like to publish a book visit my website: 



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