I first met Janie Millman on a writing course, and we have been firm friends ever since. In 2009, Janie and her husband (actor Mike Wilson) had a rush of blood to the head and moved to south west France. They spent a year renovating an 18th century house in a beautiful market town on the banks of the Dordogne. In 2010 they opened Chez-Castillon, where you can enjoy the perfect retreat or a writing, painting or photography course. Take a look at www.chez-castillon.com and get your credit cards out right now – you won’t regret it! Anyway – Janie’s writing efforts have finally come to fruition, and a couple of months back her debut novel, Life’s A Drag was published by Accent Press. Let’s find out more…
Some years ago, Mike and I moved from London to a small rural village in south east England. We arrived in time for the annual village fete – morris dancers, bouncy castles, beer tents, dog shows and, bizarrely, the annual ‘drag competition’ – a tradition dating back years. My husband was coerced into entering – and won! The prize was to organise the following year’s show. This all got me to thinking what would happen if a real life drag queen saw the advertisement for the show. What madness would ensue if they misunderstood and descended on the tiny Suffolk village…?
This was also a time when small communities were losing their identity – post offices and village pubs were closing at the rate of knots and rich city folk were buying up everything ….
Sounds like a lot of fun! Do you see yourself in any of the characters?
Yes – there is a lot of me in Roz – or the other way around! She is an actress, she is trying to come to terms with a recent life changing decision, she is struggling with her career and her identity … and she is married to a Scot!
Do you do a lot of research? (My mind is boggling…)
Yes, I do – and for Life’s A Drag Mike and I spent two weeks in San Francisco – meeting the drag queens, watching the shows and understanding just how much they do for the community around them.
They are unsung heroes. They hold tea dances for the elderly, help with the homeless, raise money for charities. We had an incredible time and a whole new world opened up to us – it was a fantastic experience and one which I will never forget.
Are you working on another novel now?
Yes, I am. My new novel (as yet untitled) also has a dual setting – Marrakech and south west France – and then I plan on writing the sequel to Life’s A Drag.
I’ve been to Chez Castillon a few times, and I reckon I could write just about anywhere in your lovely home – but where do you find a peaceful corner?
I usually write in our library – or outside – or in the cafe opposite –on trains/planes – anywhere!
In all the frantic activity of running a big home and hosting so many people – as well as writing – do you have time for any other interests?
I love reading. I am lucky enough to have a pool and I really enjoy swimming. We both love walking our mad hound … travelling – and, oh, a thousand other things..!!
Thanks for being my guest, Janie, and good luck with your book!
Life’s a Drag is Janie’s debut novel. Before putting pen to paper, she was an actress for over twenty years, playing a variety of theatrical roles. She appeared in major venues around the UK, in London’s West End and abroad.
A struggling San Francisco drag club. An idyllic English village in danger of losing its community. What do they have in common? More than meets the eye.
This is the riotous tale of how these two very different communities help each other. Though they seem worlds apart, it soon becomes clear that appearances are not everything and that sometimes human connections can surprise us.
San Francisco collides with Suffolk and nothing will ever be the same again.