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RG2E Featured Author Janice Lane Palko “steals” people…and she’s giving us the scoop on how she does it for the characters in her books.
Take it away, Janice…
I’m ashamed, but I must confess to you. I’m a thief. No, I don’t pilfer glittering jewels, original paintings, or even packs of gum. What I do steal are your words, experiences, mannerisms, and emotions. In other words, I’m a writer. British author Nina Bawden is credited for saying that “All writers are thieves.” I couldn’t agree with her more.
Recently, I released my first novel, a romantic comedy entitled St. Anne’s Day. The book is littered with looted lines, embezzled experiences, and misappropriated mannerism. Although she is not the main character of the novel, Peg McMaster, is the mother of Gerry, who is the heartthrob of the novel. Anne, our heroine, against her better judgment, has fallen for him. I’ve had numerous readers contact me to say how much they love Peg because she seems so real and comes out with some hilarious remarks. She should seem real—I stole her from life.
Actually, I stole both my maternal and paternal grandmothers and fused them to create Peg, a character who often upstages the others. My maternal grandmother, Gert, was a cigarette-smoking, novel-reading, vulgarity-speaking easy going sort. Although she was Catholic like Peg in the book, she rarely went to church. However, she did send lots of money to religious charities who, to show their deep appreciation, sent her such holy trinkets as thermometers embedded in plastic fish skeletons and glow-in-the-dark rosary beads.
Conversely, my paternal grandmother, Agnes, never smoked, never swore, never read novels and went to Mass several times a week and was a more structured type. Amazingly, both of my grandmothers liked and respected each other. Perhaps because they both spoke so colorfully. If something startling happened, Grandma Aggie would exclaim, “Oh, God help us,” while Grandma Gert would snap, “Son of a b*&#ch!
Many of the things Peg says in the book have come directly from their lips. When Pegs tells Anne about how she got pregnant with Gerry when she was in her 40s, she says. “ Well, they always say, as long as you’re in the army, you can always get shot.” I stole that line from Grandma Aggie, who once said that about a relative who had a “change-of-life baby.”
Later in the novel, Anne, who is Peg’s nurse, asks Peg how she is feeling. Peg replies, “like a lily dipped in sh*t.” Need I say, that I stole that one from Grandma Gert? Peg collects religious artifacts like Grandma Gert and believes butter is it’s own food group. Like Grandma Aggie, Peg has white cotton candy hair, prays regularly and worries about everyone’s immortal soul without coming off as sanctimonious.
Both of my grandmothers are now dead, but I often wonder what they’d think of my stealing their words and traits for use in St. Anne’s Day. I’m not quite sure, but in my mind I can hear Grandma Aggie saying “Lord help us, I’m so happy I’m going up for a bust,” and Grandma Gert saying, “Well, I’ll be damned. That’s me in your book!”
Can you think of a character from a novel that seemed so real that you could almost imagine them stepping off the page into real life? Who is the most wise-cracking character you can recall from a novel?
About St. Anne’s Day
Fired from her job after a temper outburst, Anne Lyons accepts a position as a private duty nurse for an elderly spitfire, Peg McMaster, who is recovering from heart surgery. When she meets the woman’s handsome son, Gerry McMaster, an instant attraction is ignited. Though he may be the city’s most eligible bachelor, he reminds Anne too much of her callous ex-boyfriend.
To escape the life that took his father’s and that threatens his, Gerry has avoided love at all costs, earning him a reputation as a charmer who goes through lovers faster than a premenstrual woman goes through chocolates. Then he meets Anne, and suddenly Gerry is fighting feelings he’s run from for years.
Peg has been praying to St. Anne, the patron saint of housewives, to find a suitable wife for her son before she dies. When Anne arrives on the Feast of St. Anne, Peg believes her prayers have been answered and plots to bring Anne and Gerry together in this charming tale that will make you laugh and cry..
St. Anne’s Day is available on:
Enter to win one of 3 Ebook Gifts of St. Anne’s Day that I’m giving away.
Also, don’t forget to sign up at my blog to receive my newsletter which will alert you when my soon-to-be released Christmas romance A Shepherd’s Song is available.
Tom Shepherd is anything but a hero. A senior physics major at ThreeRiversUniversity in Pittsburgh, he just wants to make some easy cash. On the last Sunday in November, he arrives to sell the Christmas season’s hottest toy, So Big Sammy, for three times its retail price to a buyer, but a snafu lands him in the middle of a bone marrow drive benefitting four-year-old Christo Davidson, who has leukemia. When everyone there—including the media covering the event–assumes that Tom has come to give the toy to the sick boy, Tom has no choice but to give it away.
Lauded by the media as a hero and bestowed with the nickname The Good Shepherd, Tom finds himself an overnight celebrity. When Gloria Davidson, a fellow student and Christo’s relative, seeks out Tom to thank him for being kind so kind to her little cousin, Tom, bewitched by her beauty, embellishes his character and lies to further impress Gloria. Tom asks Gloria out, beginning a relationship that will lead him to examine everything he believes. On Christmas Eve, Tom finds himself facing choices that will affect not only himself but also Gloria and Christo. Tom must choose between sacrifice and honor, love and loneliness, life and death.
A Christmas romance with the charm of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and the spirit of It’s a Wonderful Life, A Shepherd’s Song, with set your soul to singing.
Janice Lane Palko has been a writer for more than 15 years. She is currently the executive editor of Northern Connection and Pittsburgh 55+ magazines, where she also pens a column and contributes regularly to the magazines’ content.
Her work has also appeared in publications such as The Reader’s Digest, Guideposts for Teens, Woman’s World, The Christian Science Monitor, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In addition, her essays have been featured in the books A Cup of Comfort for Inspiration, A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Mothers, and Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul.
Janice has won several awards for her writing including the prestigious Amy Foundation Award of Merit, and she has a bachelor’s degree in Writing & Literature from Union Institute & University.
Connect with Janice here:
Thanks sooo much for sharing with us, Janice, and for treating three RG2E Peeps to Ebook Gift Copies too! U rock!
I’ve got a sweatshirt that says “Be careful, you might end up in my next novel”…and it’s sooo true and reminds me of exactly what you’re saying here! 🙂
The Best of RG2E Ereading Wishes — D. D. Scott, RG2E Founder