Interview with Janie Downey Maxwell

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Alexandria, VA, the descendant to Irish immigrants like many here in the US. My family never talked about the past much which is part of what got me researching what life was like for Irish immigrants in the US in the famine years - and where we came from in Ireland. My first "on the ground" research in Ireland, I went to Waterford which was our county, but didn't feel a deep connect there. Once I got to Dingle, I knew I was home and had found the location for Gunny Malone.
Describe your desk
I have two desks - one where I do my busy work, and another where I write. When I'm writing, I don't want to see a lot of clutter. I like open space with a few rocks on deck :)
When did you first start writing?
I've been a writer all my life. I have journals going back to age 6! Writing is a way for me to figure things out. I also love to read and have favorite books going back even earlier than age 6. Stories are part of who I am. Writing a historic novel gave me the opportunity to add to the flow of books available to all.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a million... C.S. Lewis was the first author I really connected with with his Narnia series. I read that several times in elementary school and still love those characters and those stories. Other books I've read multiple times include Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, the Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough, the Clan of the Cave Bears series by Jean M. Auel, and the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I am currently working on two projects - I am writing a fairytale-based musical, and I am working on the sequel to Gunny Malone. The sequel picks up where Gunny Malone left off (a cliff hanger!), and gets into life in America from the late 1840s through to the Civil War. I'm covering a lot of ground in the sequel. That's why I take breaks writing music :)
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Seth Godin inspired me to go indie. I had a connection with an agent and thought I'd publish in a traditional manner, but the process seemed too slow. The contracts from traditional publishers also looked great for print but not so good for digital books. So I published on my own. The best part of doing that was that the process ended - and allowed me to get to work on new writing!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has the best help for getting a book set up in digital format. They are also available to answer questions which is invaluable.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is figuring out a long, complicated story filled with interesting characters. I love doing research from a detailed outline - and then I love it when the story and/or the characters take the story in a whole new direction. The process of writing a book is full of surprises. I actually wake up in the middle of the night most nights with some creative solution bubbling around in my head. I sleep with a pad, pen, and flashlight by the bed to capture these gems.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love it when someone reads my book and lets me know how the story affected them. I have also traveled to Dingle with several fans to see where Gunny grew up. The only thing I worry about with my fans is that the sequel is taking so long! Sorry!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I snap awake every morning ready to create. I meditate and go for a run or walk most mornings, then dig into work. Creating a story is a joy.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do a lot of work in the theater - both on stage and back stage. I'm a singer so I perform mostly in musicals but some of my favorite roles have been in straight shows. I love comedy - though I do put up with a bit of drama! I also play the piano and guitar. And I live on an old farm in Maine. We have wonderful gardens and I love spending time planting and weeding in between snow falls.
Published 2015-10-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Gunny Malone
Price: $4.95 USD. Words: 234,560. Language: English. Published: January 19, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
(5.00 from 1 review)
Gunny Malone had no more chance of finding happiness than any other poor Irish girl raised on the west coast of Ireland in the early 1800s. She finds love, but tragedy soon follows and she is left to rebuild her life on the remote Blasket Islands. When famine strikes, Gunny’s world is once again tipped toward disaster. Only in the end does she find the truth that may finally set her free.