All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Author Q&A With…….Penelope Janu

on January 27, 2017

Today I am super excited to welcome new author Penelope Janu to my blog. Penelope is the author of In At The Deep End which is one of my favourite books so far in 2017. It features independent and feisty Harriet Scott, daughter of adventurers and Per Amundsen a Norwegian Naval officer who is a bit of a control freak (spoiler alert, he is delicious). Penelope patiently answered my questions on writing, life and attractive Norwegians.


Q1. Hi Penelope and welcome to my blog. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer some questions for me. To start, could you provide a little of the story of how you came to be published?

Thank you very much for having me here. So how did I come to be published? I started writing creatively around five years ago after enrolling in a creative writing course (it taught me useful things about the craft of writing, and gave me the courage to actually put words on the page, and workshop with other writers). I pitched In at the Deep End to Harlequin Mira at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in 2015, and sent the manuscript to Harlequin in November. A couple of weeks later I got a call from Jo Mackay, the publisher. She loved it! Yay!


Q2. Share a little about how you write…..are you a meticulous planner or a wing it and see what happens sort of writer?

I’m definitely not a planner. I start with two main characters that do things that interest me (writer and publisher for the first manuscript I completed, environmentalist/ teacher and naval officer/scientist for In at the Deep End, and diplomat and speech pathologist for my most recent manuscript). Then I think up a theme—it was climate change for In at the Deep End—and the characters take over from there!


Q3. Is writing a full-time occupation for you, or do you balance it with other work?

I left my full-time position as an academic a few years ago. Since then I’ve worked casually for a solicitor who helps refugees with legal problems. And of course, like any other person with children or carer responsibilities, I do unpaid work at home. But I’m lucky enough to be able to write almost every day.


Q4. Is there anywhere in particular you like to write (such as a study or café) and anything you consider essential for the ‘mood’ like coffee or music?

I have a study but … I like to have things going on around me when I write, so I usually work at the kitchen bench. This also means I have breaks to do things like hang out the washing. I write in coffee shops as well (the bustle again?). I’m planning an extended thank you to all the coffee shop proprietors who put up with me drinking endless cups of tea while typing madly.


Q5. What made you choose the story of Scott and Amundsen as the backdrop for a contemporary romance story?

This comes back to your ‘wing it and see what happens’ style of writing. The first manuscript I wrote involved a Norwegian hero called Lars. I wrote 100 000 words of that story without giving Lars a surname. So, as Lars was from a Norwegian background, I looked up common Norwegian names. ‘Amundsen’ came up in my search, and so did ‘famous Amundsens,’ including Roald Amundsen, the man who led the first team to the South Pole. I’d already started In at the Deep End and knew the heroine would be an environmentalist called Harriet. She became Harriet Scott (namesake of Robert Falcon Scott, the second man to the pole), and Lars’s cousin Per became Per Amundsen. Then I had to weave in the history … as I read more and more about Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott, my task became so much easier. Two people with similar interests but different ways of doing things. Harriet and Per personified!



Q6. Anything that even mentions Antarctica is a must read or watch, in terms of TV for me. I’ve even looked up the prices of tourist flights (not going to happen!). Have you ever been….and if not, do you plan to?

I haven’t been to Antarctica but I would love to go there. I even looked up jobs in Antarctica to see whether I might get something on a research station in the future (there didn’t seem to be anything on any of the scientific bases that required my skill set!). I’d mostly like to go to the Ross Sea and Ross Ice Shelf regions, where Scott and Amundsen went. Hopefully one day!


Q7. Harry, our heroine in In At The Deep End suffers from a terrible phobia of water, restricting for an adventurer often on a boat. Was that something that was difficult to portray on paper and did you have to do any research in order to incorporate it into the story?

I have a medical professional friend who works with people who suffer from severe anxiety. This was a useful starting point into my research into phobias and, most importantly, how people deal with them while trying to live their lives. Harriet is a strong woman yet she is vulnerable—being able to portray the way she dealt with her fears was challenging, but I was happy with how things were resolved in the end. There is no easy solution to these issues and I hope I showed that in the novel.


Q8. What books are on your summer reading list?

I was away for a week over Christmas and enjoyed reading Victoria Purman’s The Three Miss Allens, Cassandra O’Leary’s Girl on a Plane, and Ian McEwan’s Nutshell. I read Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game last weekend and loved it. I’m currently re-reading Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones, using the excuse that I’m seeing it a theatre production of it next week. I adore this novel!


Q9. Usually I ask authors what 3 things they’d like with them if they were stranded on a desert island. In the spirit of In At The Deep End what 3 things would you like if you were stranded on Antarctica?

I’d like to say my family, but if I were stranded maybe they would be too, so I’d worry about them. I’d rather imagine them home safe and sound. So … I’d take a fat notebook, pens, and a novel. One I can read and reread, and that takes me back in time, and makes me laugh—maybe a Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer.


Q10. And lastly….what is next for you? Can you share anything about what you might be working on or what is coming up?

I spent most of last year writing a companion novel to In at the Deep End. The hero of this story is Per’s twin brother, Tør. He’s a diplomat (and very likely a spy—but that’s a secret). The heroine is an Australian woman who works with children as a speech pathologist. She’s good at reading people—but has a great deal of trouble reading Tør.  Simmering tension, secrets and lies, and a very feisty heroine. I loved loved loved writing this story!


Q11. I lied, one last question…..if you’re done with Per, could I have him? 🙂

Sure you can, provided Harriet doesn’t mind …

Thank you for the interesting questions. I really enjoyed answering them (and I’m seriously chuffed that you like Per!)


Thank you so much for taking part Penelope and I can’t tell you how excited I am to hear that Per’s twin will be getting his own book. Sadly I feel that Harriet probably would mind and I suppose my husband would too *sigh*

My review of In At The Deep End will be up later today so make sure you check back!


One response to “Author Q&A With…….Penelope Janu

  1. Lauren K says:

    Great interview Bree. I too am looking forward to reading Tor’s story!

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