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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Janette Rallison - Young Adult Author

Janette Rallison smiles like she’s up to something special and she is. She’s the author of 16 books and counting.

Currently, she’s working on the sequel to her hit novel My Fair Godmother. She’s sold over 900,000 books and is signed with Putnam New York and Walker Books for Young Readers. Her books are fun, romantic and clean, something that isn’t easy to find in today’s Young Adult market. One of the things I most admire about Janette is she gives back to the writing community. She helps a lot of first time authors with editorial advice and encouragement. I had the chance to meet Janette several years ago at the Arizona Night Writers Association Conference and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s graciously accepted my invitation to be interviewed. Thanks, Janette.

1. As a young girl, you loved reading romantic fiction. Why? When did you realize you wanted to write romantic fiction?

There is probably some deep psychological reason why women love romance. I'm not sure what it is. I just know a story is always better if there is some hot brooding guy who adores me--er, I mean, who adores the heroine that I vicariously live through. So almost all of my books have involved romance to some degree. When I taught a general fiction class at BYU two years ago, I found that I kept telling the students to add romantic angles to their stories. Maybe BYU noticed it too because the next year they asked me to teach the romance class.

2. You write romance for young adults and tweens. Why this genre?

The problem with the national romance market right now is that the books are either hot (waaay too much information about the characters' sex lives) or inspirational (hardly any romance and the characters wander through the story quoting scriptures to each other). YA romance doesn't have to be either of these. Plus I write comedy and teenagers are just naturally funny. They can't help it.

3. You write with a lot of humor. Does this help with the writing process? When working on a manuscript, do you ever laugh out loud?

Writing humor is hard so it actually slows down my writing process quite a bit. I have one book in the works with hardly any humor (it's more suspense/action) and I can't believe how fast I wrote the first hundred pages. It's a lot easier to kill people than to make them laugh. As far as laughing out loud while I've written something, yes, actually I've done that a few times. I always know a scene is really funny if I laugh when I write it.

4. What’s the darkest/saddest scene you’ve ever written?

Just One Wish has several sad scenes because the main character's little brother has cancer.

I cried when I researched them, when I wrote them, and every time I went through a revision. I think I would be a mess if I had to write too many sad scenes. I don't write a lot of dark scenes but in the sequel to My Fair Godmother, there is a scene with Rumpelstiltskin that is darker than my usual stuff. But hey, he's a creepy fairy who wants to kill babies. How can that not be dark? I don't write the fairy tales--I just steal shamelessly from them.

5. What’s the funniest scene you’ve ever written?

I laughed out loud when I wrote the Snow White scenes in My Fair Godmother. I love the fact that the dwarves are the smart ones and Snow White is actually a raging idiot. I also laughed out loud during the first scene of Fame, Glory, and Other Things On My To Do List and during the scene when things go wrong during their play.

If you've ever been in drama, you need to read that book. Drama people know exactly how it feels when things go off course in the middle of a play and you’re stuck onstage dealing with it.

6. What’s the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?

Everyone will probably have a different opinion on that. I developed a crush on Tristan when I wrote My Fair Godmother so I'm particularly fond of the kiss at the end of that book. I also love the scene in Just One Wish where Annika is trying to escape from bodyguards and Steve chases after her. They end up jumping over trailers. Even though there's no kiss involved, it's still one of my favorite romantic scenes because for the first time Steve really sees Annika and knows she's a force to be reckoned with.

7. What is your all time favorite compliment about your writing?

At my last book signing a teenage girl came up to me and said she learned to love reading because of my books. I can die happy now.

8. Currently, you’re working on the sequel to My Fair Godmother. What has surprised your most about writing a sequel? What’s been your favorite twist?

My Fair Godmother was a hard act to follow because there are so many great things about that book. I'm not saying this to brag. Sometimes things come together magically (pardon the pun) in a book and the author just gets lucky. My Fair Godmother was like that. So when I went to write the sequel I thought: Okay, I want to write a book with the same elements. I need to come up with something that has adventure, romance, comedy, mystery, a love triangle, sibling rivalry, a twist ending, and a fairy who has some deep commentary on human life. But at the same time I wanted the book to feel different than the original. I didn't want it to seem that I was just rewriting the first book.

Yeah, needless to say the plot ideas weren't leaping off the page. If you ever want to give yourself writer's block, just set the bar incredibly high.

Finally I had to just allow the sequel to be what it is. I hope people will like it for itself and not compare it to its beautiful and popular older sister.

As far as my favorite twist in the book—I’ll just say that now the Rumplestilskin fairy tale makes a lot more sense.

9. Do you listen to music when you write? Do you see your books as movies? Which would you like to see made into a movie first? Why?

I don't listen to music--I get distracted too easy. I want it to be perfectly quiet while I write. I definitely see My Fair Godmother as a movie. Right now a major producer is trying to get funding for it. (He did Race to Witch Mountain, Princess Diaries, Freaky Friday, and one of my favorite movies: Sky High) So I take back what I said about dying happy now—I want to see My Fair Godmother up on the screen first. I think it would make a great Princess Bride-esque movie.

My Double Life would also be a good movie. It’s Prince and the Pauper goes Hollywood.

10. What’s your coolest “author” moment? Perks?

I hope I haven’t had it yet, but there have definitely been some cool moments. I loved Ellen Conford’s books when I was a teen. I wanted to be her when I grew up. Not long ago on a librarian’s book review blog she called me the Ellen Conford of this generation. I printed out that blog and put it in my journal.

Project Book Babe was also super cool. Not only was it fun to hang out with some really great authors, but we got to speak to a huge crowd who laughed and cheered at everything we said.

Writers work alone to complete our manuscripts. Once we love it, we send it in to our editors who then proceed to tell us everything that is wrong with it. Usually it’s a very long list.

It was so nice to have a crowd full of applause.

11. Last year you worked with Stephenie Meyer to raise awareness for cancer. What was it like working with her and how did the benefit Project Book Babe turn out? How is your friend and YA advocate Faith Hochhalter doing?

Stephenie Meyer is a really nice, down-to-earth sort of person. Unlike actors and actresses, writers don’t expect or want to be thrust into the spotlight like Stephenie has been. I think she handles it well. Everyone involved with Project Book Babe was so grateful for her involvement. It turned out wonderfully! And Faith is in remission—which is really something to cheer about!

12. If you could change one thing about your writing journey, what would it be?

I would have gotten a degree in marketing in college. It would certainly help out now.

13. Where do you want to visit most in the world?

Give me a warm beach and I’m happy.

14. Favorite authors? Books? What inspires you?

I have eclectic taste. I love the Princess Bride, Pride and Prejudice, and Hunger Games. I just read the first two books of the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud and loved them.

I’m inspired to write by my teenage daughter who is always looking for something good to read.

15. Words of advice for the wanna-be writer, in other words, me.

Read a lot. It’s not only fun, it’s necessary if you want to be a writer. Also read books on writing. They’ll save you a ton of time in revision and help you hone your craft. Write because you love the story you’re working on. If you don’t love it, it’s not worth it. And keep on writing. Don’t stop just because your first or second or third book got rejected. A lot of times it’s that fourth book that gets accepted.

Janette is giving one of her books away so be sure to visit her blog at


  1. Great interview Laura and Janette. Hope to see you at the conference this weekend!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this interview! It's pretty cool to laugh out loud and be inspiried at the same time - the two of you have a gift!

  3. Reading that one of Janette's favorite movies is Sky High proves to me that we have some deep, psychic connection, and not that I'm just an obsessed and crazed fan. Great interview!

  4. Wonderful interview! I was blessed to meet Janette at the Project BookBabe Event & just thought she was fantastic! Her writing always makes me smile.

    So glad to have discovered your blog!

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

  5. Great interview! I just finished My Fair Godmother and I loved it.

  6. Awesome interview! I LOVE Janette's books.