‘It was these words and this eccentric annual competition that inspired me to write my debut novel “Life’s A Drag”
which was published by Accent Press at the end of July this year’
“I want to travel the world and have as much rough sex as possible.” This was the response my straight talking gritty Glaswegian husband gave many years ago in answer to the question of what he would do if he won the accolade of ‘drag queen of the year.’
Fuelled by several pints of beer and having completely forgotten that this was a family show my husband yelled these very words into the microphone.
The words echoed around the village green – our new village green – the village into which we had just moved.
The village – kids included – erupted with laughter.
It was these words and this eccentric annual competition that inspired me to write my debut novel “Life’s A Drag” which was published by Accent Press at the end of July this year,
It took a while – I didn’t immediately put pen to paper but the germ was there – the idea slowly started to grow – gradually filling my mind – gaining momentum – the characters becoming louder and louder until I had no choice but to start writing.
I knew about life in a small rural village – we had lived there for several years but it soon became clear that I needed to know a bit more about drag queens.
So we planned a trip to San Francisco and spent two weeks inhabiting the world of the drag queens. It was a fascinating insight into an extraordinary life. We saw firsthand how much they do for their community – helping with the elderly – helping with the homeless – this was a surprising aspect and not something I had envisaged.
And of course we saw the shows – we were treated to some fabulous acts – some not so fabulous acts and frankly some downright disgusting acts!
We met with larger than life characters, each with their own story to tell. They were rude, they were bitchy but they were also kind hearted and witty and we had an absolute ball.
I would never have been able to write ‘Life’s a Drag’ without their support and input. That is why whenever anyone asks me if I think research is important I give a resounding YES.
Of course these days we can learn a lot from the internet and it is invaluable for facts and figures, but in my opinion it cannot replace a live experience. Often when I read reviews on the net about places I have visited I wonder if the reviewer and I are talking about the same spot!
Just before our holiday in San Francisco we had moved from the small Suffolk village to a new life in SW France. After a year renovating a large eighteenth century town house in a small market town on the banks of the river Dordogne our new business was born and Chez Castillon was launched on the world.
We host courses and retreats in Writing, Painting and Photography.
I have therefore been fortunate enough to meet many wonderful writers here and they have helped and encouraged me enormously. Listening to their tales around the dinner table, hearing about their own experiences, sharing anxieties and fears – it has been truly invaluable.
Writing is such a solitary occupation that I welcome any chance to liaise and meet up with fellow authors. I love learning from them. I love hearing how they write, what makes them tick and what their modus operandi is.
I write anywhere and everywhere – on trains, on planes, in cafes or bars – outside or inside – I’m not fussy – basically anywhere that has a seat!
We are also lucky enough to have a library and I guess if I’m honest that is my favourite place to write. I try and get up at six in the morning and get a thousand words done before breakfast. Sometimes this works – sometimes it doesn’t – our library looks out onto the street and I love watching the early morning life unfold before me – the noisy fruit and veg lorry, the quieter baguette delivery and the overpowering smell of freshly baked croissant. Occasionally these things are a distraction but mostly they inspire me.
I do think that it is important to establish a routine but because our days here are anything but routine I realise that I have to be flexible and fit the writing in as and when it is possible.
I imagine that is true for most of us.
My second novel is also has a dual location – Marrakech and SW France.
Obviously I have everything I need on the doorstep as far as the later location but maybe I need to start planning a holiday in Morocco soon – sorry – did I say holiday?
Clearly what I meant was a research trip and you know research can be very hard work!
Janie Millman author (FB)
Janie Millman @Chez-Castillon
Published by Accent Press
Represented by David Headley – DHH Literary agency