I’m delighted to have Janie Millman with me today for a cuppa, some cake, and a chat about her new novel, Life’s A Drag. Why not join us for a drink and a slice of something delicious, put your feet up for five minutes, and see what Janie has been up to.
“Life’s A Drag” by Janie Millman
A struggling San Francisco Drag club.
An idyllic English village.
What do they have in common?
More than meets the eye.
What inspired you to write your book?
The inspiration for the book came after my husband and I moved from London to a small Suffolk Village and were amazed to discover a drag competition in the annual village horticultural fete – a tradition that apparently dated back years….
As an actor my husband – a straight talking Glaswegian – was coerced into entering and joined a sorry line up of five – a local farmer – an ex copper – the guy who owned the village shop – the butcher and paper boy!
Whoever won the show organised the following year -my husband won and it started me thinking -What would happen if some real life drag queens happened upon this small village competition? What would be the consequence if San Francisco met Suffolk?
At that time many country villages were in danger of losing their identity – local PO’s were closing – pubs were shutting down – and of course the local shops were losing out to the supermarkets….
I grew up in a small town and loved the community spirit and like many others in the village was keen to preserve it.
Obviously I did not have to do much research into village life having lived there – but I did have to research drag queens! Not a world I was particularly familiar with……
Accompanied by my husband ( who frankly enjoyed himself far too much!) we spent two weeks in San Francisco – hanging out with the drag queens – watching the shows – listening to their incredible stories and most surprisingly seeing how much they do for their community…
It was a fascinating – if somewhat exhausting couple of weeks – we were welcomed with open arms and I keep in touch with many of them… I cannot wait to go back…. so I guess I really need to start the sequel!
Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?
I did plot the book – but only very loosely.
I like to know roughly where I am going but I also like to have the freedom to allow the characters to grow and develop and surprise me… which they did on several occasions.
I have a wall full of large A4 sheets of paper on which I write various ideas..in various different colours – for example in the case of ‘Life’s A Drag’ – green was for Suffolk and the characters who lived there and pink was the obvious choice for San Francisco !
On the advice of novelist Veronica Henry I also use a ‘mood board’ – simply a cork board on which I pin photos- clippings – pictures – articles – anything that helps me relate to the story – it may sound a bit strange… but I find it really does help me focus …
What is your writing regime?
Re my writing regime…. I try to get up early and do a couple of hours before the day kicks off at 9.00am!
Sometimes that happens sometimes it doesn’t!
I live in SW France and we own Chez-Castillon – a large eighteenth century town house where we organise courses & retreats in painting /photography and creative writing – our days are hugely busy.. and it can be difficult to find time … so getting up early is a necessity if I want to get words down – and even though sometimes it is a effort to get up – I do enjoy my early morning sessions – when there are no interruptions – I drink gallons of strong coffee – munch on the occasional biscuit -talk my ideas through with the dog and watch the sun rise…
And I am very fortunate because we have some wonderful authors coming out here who always inspire and help me.
What excites you the most about your book?
What excites me most about my book is that is does not really fit any genre – it is fairly unique – it is optimistic but does have some deeper undercurrents.
I like the fact that it deals with two very different communities who come together to help each other – and although at first they seem worlds apart it soon becomes clear that appearances are not everything and human connections can surprise us.
Here’s the blurb for Life’s A Drag–
Roz and Jamie have moved to leafy Suffolk from London in search of a quiet life so it is a surprise to find that the village is embarking on its riotous annual drag competition. Fuelled by large quantities of alcohol and ubiquitous community spirit, they soon find themselves caught up in a battle for the identity of the village itself.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Drew is fighting his own battle to save his club and the livelihoods of his closest friends. Though they seem worlds apart, it soon becomes clear that appearances are not everything and that sometimes human connections can surprise us.
Drag is the new cool – think Conchita Wurst, Ru Paul, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Kinky Boots in London. This fun-filled and life-affirming romp will appeal to anyone who enjoys humorous fiction.
If you ‘d like to buy Life’s A Drag you can find it at all good book and e-retailers, including-
Author Janie Millman was an actress for twenty-five years, appearing in the West End, on UK and World-wide Tours, on television and film. Her least-recognised role was as Leonardo the Ninja Turtle. Since 2009, she and her husband have lived in south-west France where they run Chez Castillon in an eighteenth-century house which provides an idyllic setting for painting, photography and creative-writing courses. She contracted breast cancer a couple of years ago and was inspired to write a popular blog: ‘Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow’ which sparked an interest in wild and unusual wigs, which probably helped when writing the Drag Queen characters.
Many thanks to Janine for joining me for a cuppa today. Life’s a Drag sounds wonderful. I have a feeling your husband and mine would get on like a house on fire!
Happy reading everyone,