Jane Collins-Philippe, author of Laundered Shirts Look Better on Hangers
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Jane Collins-Philippe, author of Laundered Shirts Look Better on Hangers. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Jane. For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself and your work?
Jane Collins-Philippe: Like most of us, I used to work (human services) and live in a house (Toronto). Then one day I ran away from home to sail the seas. Since then I’ve lived for years with my French husband and a variety of charming canine companions on board our rusty old sailboat ‘Jonathan.’ I am privileged to have dual nationalities; Canadian and French (European), which allow me to float freely between continents.
Writing is something I’ve been doing since I was a child: in notebooks, on bits of paper, on the belly of my arm (messy business that). Life at sea was certainly the inspiration for my children’s book of poetry, SAIL AWAY WITH ME published by McClelland Stewart (Random House) in 2010.
I have also written and recently published two novels for adults. The first, LAUNDERED SHIRTS LOOK BETTER ON HANGERS is the comic story about a woman who, unable to manage her life, determines to end it.
The second, entitled LOOKING FOR WILL is quite different: more dramatic, character based, a bit of a mystery . . . Here is a short synopsis:
A long road trip. A quarrelling couple. On a lonesome highway a tire goes flat and an infant disappears. Is it a kidnapping? Or an act of god?
Not far away live Gracie and Gabe Fortune. Gracie is bereft. For the past few years she’s been behaving strangely. She sees dancing fruit trees and encroaching horizons over which she’s tempted to go in search of all that’s been taken from her. In desperation, Gracie begins making demands of her wayward god, not realising that when her prayers are answered all hell will break loose.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
JCP: I try to write every day, though it’s not always possible. But when I sit down to it I usually go full throttle. I move around a lot so do not have a preferred spot for working. What I do need is a comfortable seat and calm. Perhaps some peaceful instrumental music or waves washing a shore in the background. Bird song works especially well.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
JCP: Being precise is not easy since publishing is probably the goal for most people who write. I’ve always dreamt of becoming a published author. It lends credibility to your work if someone other than your best friend wants to read it. The advent of the Internet, ebooks and self publishing was admittedly a great incentive.
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have found yourself writing in the style that you do?
JCP: That’s a good question and a scary one. It has to come from somewhere . . . but where?
SPS: What would you say, if anything, best differentiates you from other authors?
JCP: Multiple personalities. (That’s the scary part.)
SPS: Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
JCP: Everywhere. Everyday life and – as my dear maternal grandmother used to say – a delightful streak of insanity.
SPS: Can you tell us a little about Laundered Shirts Look Better on Hangers?
JCP: With pleasure. As the title implies, LAUNDERED SHIRTS LOOK BETTER ON HANGERS is a bit off-the-wall. ‘Wacky and delightful’ as one reader said. (I love that person.) Here is a brief description to give you an idea:
The only power I have over my life, thinks Claudia Stone as she puts the noose around her neck, is the power to end it.
Claudia is failing to live her life. Or could it be that life is failing Claudia? Either way, hers is a mess. Until one day, by a twist of fate, she discovers a hidden talent. When she becomes a phone sex playmate a new exciting world begins to unfold. But will it be enough to save her?
SPS: Have you received a favourite review of your work?
JCP: Aside from the one I quoted above, “AWESOME” is another I particularly like.
SPS: Looking for Will is the story of a missing eighteen-month-old child. What led to you write about quite a difficult subject to cover?
JCP: The storyline came to me in a dream. Literally. Of course, over time the characters embellished it and so did I.
SPS: What’s next on the self-publishing horizon for yourself?
JCP: I am now busy with a new novel, the working title of which is, SWEET BUNS AND BLUEBERRY TEA. Totally immersed, I hate to put it aside. Although, another book I wrote quite a while back entitled, THE INEXPLICABLE ADVENTURE OF THEODORE STRANGE keeps tickling me. However, it needs quite a bit of revising if I want to publish it. STRANGE is even more eccentric than LAUNDERED SHIRTS (only one reason that revision is required). I hope to get them both out there, but which should come first?
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
JCP: Not in the beginning. I’ve had two literary agents representing three of my novels at varying times. One in Toronto, Canada and the other in London, England. (This was before self-publishing became a reasonable option.) Believe me, getting an agent was already a very difficult task. My British agent worked with film scripts as well as fiction and non fiction and was overloaded. Six months on a book was his limit. Unfortunately, the book he was representing was probably too wacky. Its time hadn’t come. The Canadian agent I had was highly respected and a good man but with an unknown writer like myself his appeals were restricted to within Canada, whose market is small. I believe he was doing his best for me but sadly, poor health forced him into early retirement. After that I reworked everything and decided to go out on my own. I believe that the more we write the more we mature as writers. The original manuscripts for both of my published novels were written several years ago. They needed a fresh eye and some alterations. I’ve worked very hard on their revisions and hope that those who choose to read them will find that my efforts were worthwhile.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
JCP: Not really. My novels are submerged beneath the flood of books available on Amazon as well as on KINDLE and KOBO. Featured books are those written by known authors. Those with a long history of good reviews. But to get the reviews you have to be read. To be read, your books have to be seen. For instance, if you don’t know my name or my book titles you will probably never find me in any on-line bookstore. The reason I have signed up with Showcase is to promote my work. Book promotion and marketing is vital but incredibly time consuming. One needs a certain knowledge of the system as well. I try my best on Facebook, Twitter etc but it’s like digging a hole in the water. Promoting isn’t my strength. Writing is what I want to do.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
JCP: Do it. Don’t be afraid of failure. If it’s your passion then persist against all odds. You will discover how rewarding it is to create characters and develop their lives. Let them help you. There are times when they’ll know better than you where they need to go. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have great contacts in the business, don’t be surprised if your work doesn’t become known. Writing a best seller might be your dream. Don’t worry if it doesn’t manifest. Think of the wonderful people and imaginings you’ve brought to life and the stories you’ve shared . . . and smile. Then get busy and write some more.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
JCP: How many names am I allowed to drop? Some, if not most of these authors are well known. Here are just a few of those whose works I read and read again, those whose books I seek out . . . Barbara Kingsolver, John Irving, Neil Gaimen, J.P. Donlevy, Janet Frame, Rose Tremain, Miriam Toews, Andrew Kaufman, Jacqueline Saucier, Rachel Joyce, Linwood Barclay, Steig Larson . . . and so on.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today, and all the best for the future.
JCP: I very much appreciate having had this opportunity to speak with you, your followers and my fellow writers. It would be a pleasure if any of you would like to share with me your work, your ideas and your frustrations. As a community of writers I think we can help and support one another.
(My website: www.janecollinsphilippe.wordpress.com)
SPS: For more information on Jane and her work, please do visit her author page.