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On Better Words this week: Janice Hallett
Why The Appeal was an 'accidental' bestseller & playing with writing style.
You know when you tell people to read a book you just know they’ll love? That’s what Michelle’s been telling Caitlin since she read The Appeal in 2021. And she’s been determined to get Janice Hallett on the podcast…
This week we’re talking all about her Christmas novella, a return to the world of her wildly successful debut – awarded the CWA Debut Dagger of 2021. Janice’s second novel, The Twyford Code, was named Crime & Thriller Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2023. The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels was an instant Times and Sunday Times bestseller on its launch in January 2023.
Janice is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. As a playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat.
🎧 Listen to the episode on Spotify below or search ‘Better Words’ in your podcast player 🎧
Things we talked about
Janice's almost accidental turn to book publishing after a decade of trying to get a screenwriting career off the ground – and how this inspired The Appeal's groundbreaking format
The joy of community theatre and how it's shaped Janice's life
How Janice plans and writes her novels
Revisiting the world of Lockwood for The Christmas Appeal
A little teaser for Janice's 2024 novel, The Examiner
How Janice feels about the success of her books after so many years of screenwriting
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Before we chat with our featured author, we always share some other recommendations. Caitlin was too busy shimmying away in Jersey Boys to finish any books (that weren’t podcast prep), so Michelle shared two books this week.
Strong Female Character by Fern Brady
This memoir is, at times, tough to read because it is unflinchingly honest. Fern was told she 'couldn't be autistic' because she had boyfriends and made eye contact – but this book explores the ways that being female has got in the way of an autism diagnosis and how understanding herself as autistic has helped her understand herself better.
The Schoolhouse by Sophie Ward
This literary thriller introduces us to Isobel – a woman who lives an isolated life and feels safe in her routines. When she gets a letter from an old teacher and a local schoolgirl goes missing, it sends her spiralling into the memories of a traumatic experience at an experimental school from the 1970s. The story dips between the present investigation in 1990 and Isobel's diary entries from 1975.
- Caitlin & Michelle
🎧 Search ‘Better Words’ in your favourite podcast player to get new episodes as soon as they’re live. We’ll be back with another episode next Wednesday! 🎧