Name JT (Janni) Styles
Age Old enough to know better but still learning 😉
Where are you from
Born in Ontario, Canada, I am now a west coast home girl living near Vancouver BC in Canada. My education, like my life and writing, is eclectic from a Creative Writing Diploma to an Interior Design Diploma, a BA in English Literature, Lay counsellor training for providing services at the Rape and Sexual Assault Centre, and more as listed on my welcome page in my blog. My family consists of nine siblings but only two or three are ever talking to each other lol I am not among those, I think “not talking” to people is a sure sign of a person’s inability to mature and foster healthy relationships. Those I am in contact with love me sincerely, never stop talking to me and that is good enough for me.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
Since getting PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from a physical assault in 2012, I have been looking for plain language un-academic written works for survivors of trauma and PTSD. Since I could find nothing appropriate, I decided to try writing it myself but it is slow going because it triggers me so much. Still, hoping to get it done by the end of this year and it will be free.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
In grade one I said I wanted to make books when I grow up. I guess you could say my writing began then and there when I saw the power books had over a room full of 30 or so students. It was sheer magic to me. I was in love with writing instantly and have never fallen out of love with it. I may hit the wall with writer’s block but I still love it. Writing was my biggest healing tool and likely always will be.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Though I am not sure when this happened I will take a guess that it was in school when my writing assignments received top marks. It made me try even harder, not against others but against myself, to learn to write better than I already had.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My very first book was inspired by a three day weekend writing contest. Mine was not the winning entry but I did receive a Certificate of Merit for my wee 110 page novel. And I think I slept for two straight weeks after that lol
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
This is something I may not have appropriately answered in the past. But, after many decades of winning awards and being read by some very remarkable literary industry folks, I now dub my writing: “slice of life.” At the bottom of every poem and every story I write is a human condition most of us can relate to and I try to bring these elements forward in the story without spoiling the plot. Not always easy but I do try.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
One More Chance is a second title for this work. The first was done when I was in the throes of PTSD and my judgment was so off I don’t even think I realized how bad my cover and title were until I did a few years of healing work after the physical assault in 2012. One writer friend had changed covers and titles and I thought, well, why can’t I? So in 2016 I did just that. So far so good, it was very well received.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Only that we are all in this together. So if you feel like being mean or nasty, don’t. What goes out always returns so why not make it love, compassion and kindness. We only get one life. Don’t spend it bearing grudges, that is a mighty high price to pay instead of living a happy life. Live, love and laugh often.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Most of them are based loosely on real people. Though I don’t use the entire character of any one real world person. I just take the best of what they say, do, or act out and use those snippets as inspiration to build realistic, believable book or story characters.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence, Crows Over a Wheat Field by Paula Sharp, Book of Ruth by Jane Hamiltion, The Bluest Eye by Tony Morrison, Bastards Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, Glass Castles by Jeanette Walls, The Last of the Crazy People by Timothy Findley, anything by Alice Munro, Alistair Mcleod, Alice Walker, Tony Morrison, W.O. Mitchell and so many more that I would need a book just to list them all. I didn’t really have a mentor but meeting with acclaimed writer Andreas Schroeder was very helpful as was interning for a publishing house in the ‘80’s in Richmond, BC. It all helped me get where I am and actually still helps me continue to grow myself and my writing.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Not so new but fairly new to me is Stieg Larsson who wrote the series beginning with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which was, sadly, published posthumously in 2005. It became an international bestseller and the movie was great, too. Lisbeth Salander, the main character, was an expert at exacting justice in her own unique and just way. I admire the writing of this work as well as the realistic believability of the characters. A justice seeker at heart, I really related to Lisbeth. The writing was superb, just superb, captured all it is to be human in an unjust world.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
A creative writing diploma instructor who, sadly, is no longer with us was a guiding force for me. He kept telling me to use my own voice, learn the rules, forget the rules and just write. I can still hear his voice to this day whenever I doubt or question something I have written. He loved my writing, said it was powerful, engaging and that I should not stop. So far so good 😉
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. Not necessarily a paying career but a career none the less. As with any career it takes years to become an expert and miles of pages of writing to become a good writer. I think you have to have the desire to write or it will never be a career. If you are doing it without the heart and soul required to produce good work, well, to me that is just a waste of time, will lead to nothing. It is the heart and soul of good writing that pulls us in and holds us fast. I work on this in all do toward writing and likely always will.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No because at the time I was shattered so badly from PTSD, I thought I was dying and I just wanted to get something out there, get published before I died. As it happens I wasn’t dying but it sure felt like it. One More Chance is a collection of short stories I had already written and with the kind and generous help of some beautiful online literary angels, I was able to get them all put together with a cover for publishing. I like it much better with the new cover and title and from what I can see, others do, too.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
This goes back to the opening questions where I saw the power of books in motion in a class room when I was just six years old. I love writing. Always have.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From the story Ashes to Ashes in the fictional book One More Chance:
“How would you know? You weren’t even born yet when I was poisoned by all those rotten smells in that drafty old boarding house.
Marguerite’s words peeled me back from the layers of memories to her room where dust motes danced in the air, brought to life by her expressive hands to play in the sun for a few seconds more. Her eyes were focused on me so sharply I remembered her telling me once, “I am the hawk, I see everything.”
Her hands rested on the book she was reading when I entered. I read the spine as it lay on her lap “The Last of the Crazy People – Timothy Findley.” I smiled and looked at my aunt’s outfit, her heather grey skirt her favorite garment in winter months.”
From my wee book on PTSD I hope to have available free by year’s end, an excerpt from Chapter 1:
“More commonly known as a result of war or childhood abuses for many whose minds could not process the horrors they endured or witnessed, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can strike anyone at any time.
A child whose family home caught fire can suffer years of angst even though the home was repaired and no one was physically injured at all. A woman who lands in a country free of the tortures and abuses in her home land finds herself recovering from those wars on her psyche despite her new life building here. A man survives a horrific car crash where he lost his entire family and he cannot cope with anything any longer. A childhood abuse survivor, a paramedic or other front line service worker who sees too much trauma on the job, anyone at all can be struck by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
PTSD is a helpless, hopeless state of being akin to feeling at once overwhelmed and frozen in place, unable to find sure footing or safety in a world that no longer offers either.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Since getting PTSD in 2012 any and all information can boggle my mind. I used to be a great researcher but no more. This also transfers to my own writing. I have to read and reread and reread. And then rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. I did all of those things pre PTSD but now I have to do them more because a single paragraph can read as confusing to me yet not to others.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Thankfully, no. I am no longer a great traveler. Yet in my teens I thought nothing of hopping a ferry or hitch hiking to see friend. With PTSD I find travel very stressful and confusing, it really takes a lot out of me. Thankful for the internet am I, confusing though it may be. It is still easier than traveling, I just have to limit my online sessions or I go on information overload.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The latest covers were done by me on a very user friendly site called Canva. I know others may have similar covers to mine but I just didn’t have the $ to hire anyone so there they are.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
There are eleven stories in One More Chance. Ordering the stories was the most challenging part of putting the book together. I wanted a strong lead in story that might prompt readers to read on. Not sure if I succeeded but I did have two internet angels who read, edited, proofed and agreed with me.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Only that even in the face of life’s most draining challenges, you can still do something good.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Nicole Kidman. She has the range, depth and believable character magic onscreen unlike any other actress I have seen. She is mind blowing in a new series called Big Little Lies.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Well, I will repeat what one writing instructor told me in the Creative Writing Diploma Program: “Don’t stop writing.” When everything else in the world fails me my writing is still there, still mine and is the one thing no one can ever take away from me.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you, of course, I so appreciate you reading my writing. Beyond that I would like to know how you liked my stories or if there was one that really struck you. On that note, would you consider writing a review or even sending me your comments on it? Good, bad or in between, I appreciate all feedback. It not only helps me grow as a writer but inspires me onward.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Currently re-reading a short story collection “The Way Forward is With a Broken Heart” by Alice Walker.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The Dick and Jane Readers and The Bobbsey Twins.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Kind people always make me smile and cruel people always make me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Not sure on this one. So many. Would have loved to meet Maya Angelou, Jean Vanier and Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Love and peace to everyone because there is just not enough love and peace in this old world of ours, we can always use more of both.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Reading, interior design projects, water color painting, gardening/landscaping and I love board games, especially Scrabble.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Game of Thrones, I can’t get enough of the costuming, the sets, the characterization. Currently watching Big Little Lies, a tv series, it is fantastic. So real and so engaging, reminds me of many great books I have read.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My colors are white and blue including all variations of each. My foods are fruit and eggs, can’t live without those. Musically I have eclectic tastes from growing up on both rock and country with my dad being an award winning country music musician. My older brothers were into the Stones, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Gene Pitney and much more. I like all music for different reasons. Listening to current rock/pop station as I write this to you.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Something exciting. Maybe being a police officer or a firefighter or a coast guard search and rescue person, anything that is outside the realm of writing while providing lots of stimulating content for writing. Anything that helps others, really.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Books and author interview link: