Today is a virtual book tour stop for Janine McCaw and her second novel, Helens-of-Troy. For the Vancouver-based novelist, the new book is the continuation of a dream, and the fruit of years of working in a different creative realm.
Janine McCaw’s deep understanding of compelling plots, widely appealing characters, natural dialogue, and strong story arcs come directly out of her early career in the film and television industry. McCaw’s skills as an observer started early when her family uprooted from the city to small town Ontario – and she became the classic fish out of water. Writing down her thoughts became an outlet as she scribbled her way through childhood, while she also developed her observational skills and visual eye with photography. A die-hard hockey fan, McCaw studied cinematography at Humber College, and was headed for a career as a cameraperson covering professional sports when she landed an internship in a broadcasting services company.
McCaw excelled in the television distribution arena. She joined Thomas Howe & Associates and moved with that company to Vancouver, where she distinguished herself with her talent for identifying the right product for the right market, and her people-skills in negotiating contracts. After furthering her professional development with several high-profile Canadian entertainment companies, she parlayed her reputation as a leading cable programming specialist into her own boutique firm. Formed with a partner, Dark Horse Ent. specialized in finding, and selling, niche Canadian television series – entertainment, information and variety – around the Globe. McCaw also acted as an independent executive producer on award-winning television Classic Car series, CHROME DREAMS, and as a distributor for series including ENTRÉE TO ASIA, and AT HOME WITH HERBS.
In high demand as an insightful, humorous, and engaging guest speaker, juror, and analyst for festivals and trade forums around the country, McCaw also spent large amounts of time traveling abroad to television markets. Writing relieved the stress of constantly being on the road. Increasingly, she turned her main hobby into outlines for novels, and finished fleshing out the characters, plot and dialogue for Olivia’s Mine, a fictional account of a young bride’s struggle to make a life for herself against the backdrop of the disasters that hit Britannia Beach, British Columbia in the early 1900s. The book was released in 2006 and continues to be sold at the British Columbia Museum of Mining.
Welcome to Reviews and Interviews, Janine. Please tell us about your current release.
I’m so excited to unleash “the Helens” on the world. They’re three very independent women, all trying to come to terms with the choices they have to make in life.
Here’s the synopsis:
Fifteen year old Goth-chic Ellie has a lot of explaining to do. She’s just moved to the small town of Troy, fought with her uptight mother Helen, met the boy of her dreams and found a dead body on her sexy “new-age” grandmother Helena’s porch. All on the first night!
But Ellie’s not alone. Helen is hiding something. Helen knows all about the kind of eerie dreams her daughter is having — the dreams that show the whereabouts of the missing children of Troy — because she’s had them herself. But she’ll never admit it. Not while Ellie’s sex-crazed friend Ryan is safely behind bars for the murders. Helen knows what it’s like to be attracted to dangerous men.
Then there’s the little matter between Helena and Gaspar BonVillaine, the teenaged vampire who is learning to feed on young prey. Now that he’s caught Ellie, he doesn’t know whether he wants to kill her or turn her to the dark side and keep her forever. Helena should have finished him off when she had the chance.
To survive the vampire feeding frenzy surrounding them, mom Helen needs to come to terms with her own insecurities and deal with the gifts she has. Helena must learn to ground herself for the good of mankind and more importantly her own family. And Ellie has the toughest choice of all. Ellie must decide whether it’s time to let her own childhood go and become the woman she is destined to be, one of the ageless and timeless “Helens of Troy”.
What inspired you to write this book?
The title came first. I was reading something about the original Helen of Troy and thought, hmm…what if there’s more of them…and they live in this small town…and what if they’re slayers….
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on the sequel to H-O-T, Nightmare on Jacey Street. Those who read the original novel know that Ellie’s friend Jacey has a few secrets that need to be resolved.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written, but I like to think of myself as a “storyteller”. Sometimes that’s the same thing, sometimes it isn’t.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a fly-by-night writer. I grab the time when I can. I carry a notebook and have several electronic gadgets on me at all times. Structure doesn’t work for me. I joined a 500 words a day challenge and the beginning of this year and it lasted slightly over a week. I pull some 10-12 hours days at my day job, so it’s not easy.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write the dialogue first.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A hockey player. There’s a photo of me, when I was around three, taken at Christmas. I’m standing next to the decorated tree, in blue polka-dot pajamas, holding a hockey stick that is taller than I am. My mom wanted to get me a doll, but I told Santa I wanted a hockey stick. I think I took out a few ornaments that morning. So when I watch Happy Gilmore and Adam Sandler says “I’m a hockey player”, I get that. Totally.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
A couple of good songs to listen to when reading H-O-T are the cover version of “Where Evil Grows” by the Gore Gore Girls, and “Deep Cuts the Knife” by Helix.
Well, that’s a different way to wrap up an interview! Thanks for stopping by today, Janine. It’s been a pleasure learning a bit about you and your writing.
Links to her other virtual tour stops can be found at the VBT Cafe site.