Janey Fraser is a journalist and novelist. She attended North London Collegiate School and then read English at Reading University before joining the Thomson Graduate Trainee Scheme as a journalist. Janey then went onto writer for Drapers Record, Parents and Woman’s Own magazine before turning freelance after the birth of her first child. For the next twenty-five years, she contributed to numerous national publications including The Times, Good Housekeeping and Woman & Home. She was also a regular columnist for Woman and The Daily Telegraph where she wrote about the humorous ups and downs of family life.
As Sophie King, she had five novels published by Hodder & Stoughton, including The Wedding Party which was shortlisted for Love Story of the Year in 2010. She now writes as Janey Fraser for Arrow (Random House). Titles so far have included The Playgroup, The Au Pair and her latest novel, Happy Families. Fay Weldon has described her novels as ’unputdownable’. Her novels have won various prizes including the Elizabeth Goudge Short Story Trophy in 2005. She was also a runner-up in the Harry Bowling Prize.
As Jane Corry, she writes historical novels for the European market. Her first novel The Pearls went to auction at the Frankfurt Book Fair and was bought by Newton Compton in Germany and also Newton Compton in Italy where it reached number eight in the book charts. Her next historical novel THE RUBY RING has been bought by Italy, Germany and Spain.
Janey has also written numerous non-fiction books including “Family Memories” (a series of children’s books); How To Write Short Stories For Magazines And Get Published; How To Write Your First Novel; How To Write Your Life Story; Tidy Your Room! How to get kids to do jobs they hate ; Everything a Parent Needs to know before their Child goes to University; Everything a Parent Needs to know before their Child goes to Secondary school.
In addition, she has had hundreds of short stories published in magazines such as Woman’s Weekly and My Weekly. She also gives regular talks/workshops at bookshops and literary festivals including Winchester and Guildford. Until her recent move to Devon, she tutored at Oxford University and West Herts College. For three years, she was writer in residence at HMP Grendon, a high-security male prison where she helped lifers to write their life stories as well as poems, novels and short stories. Janey also invited in fellow writers such as Colin Dexter to give talks to prisoners.
Janey has appeared several times on breakfast television and Woman’s Hour, including a recent Christmas programme on rivalry in the kitchen! She is a regular on local radio and presented a writing clinic for Radio Oxford and Radio Three Counties.
In 2013, Janey was elected to a Fellowship at Exeter University by the Royal Society of Literature.
Janey Fraser lives in Devon with her family and a study that looks over the sea. Her hobbies include walking, tennis, belly dancing and painting.
And now from the author herself:
I love writing about feisty heroines with domestic battles. My own life has not been particularly smooth (whose is?) but it has certainly given me novel fodder!
One lesson I have learned about the publishing industry is that you need to be flexible to survive. When my new publishers asked me to change my name, I could have said no. But actually, being Janey Fraser has given me another voice. (My friends and family call me Janey rather than Jane anyway so it feels rather nice having it on a book cover.)
My books for Arrow are aimed at anyone who is part of family life. My readers include teenagers, mums, dads, grandparents and women without children.
I like to be funny but at the same time, to draw in the serious side of life. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? I’ve been through death and divorce and re-marriage so I can imagine how my heroines (and hero) might feel. I’ve also laughed until my sides have also split. My wonderful mother, who died before she got to my age now, used to say: “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone.” She was right.
Happy Families was inspired by a parenting class I went to when my youngest was fifteen. I couldn’t get him to turn his light off before midnight, even when there was school the next day, because he was addicted to his computer. It got to the point where one night, I hid the rooter in my car. It led to a horrible argument although now we can both see the funny side of it.
So off I went to a parenting class, hoping to get all the answers, and found that everyone else had far more minor problems to contend with such as kids not putting their plates away after a meal. I felt pretty inferior especially as I was the only single parent there.
But I did pick up some tips such as reflective listening. This means repeating back to your child, the same words they have just used to you but in a way that shows you understand how they are feeling. So if they tell you to “Shut up and go away”, you say “I understand that you want me to shut up and go away. I might feel upset too in your situation. But perhaps we can talk about this and reach some kind of compromise.”
It struck me that this could be really funny. My teenager certainly found it hilarious when I tried it out on him. (‘Are you feeling OK, mum?’).
Happy Families is about three parents who meet at a parenting class. There’s Bobbie, whose children are impossible and whose husband is a workaholic. Even worse, her mother is dating Dr No, a tough disciplinarian who dishes out parental advice to the nation. Then there’s Andy, whose wife is married to Bobbie’s brother. Andy finds himself in charge of the parenting classes when his wife walks out – and then finds that Bobbie is a very comforting shoulder to cry on….. Enter Vanessa, a feisty young gran who’s runs a second hand designer shop and has just fallen in love, second time round. But then there’s a knock on her door one night and she finds her six year old granddaughter with a note that reads ‘Please look after me.’
All three need help – so where better to find it than the parenting class at the local school?
Happy Families also has limericks in it. When my children were little, I used to make up rhymes to distract them or get them to do things they didn’t want. So I did the same for my characters. Here is one:
There was a young mum from Whitehall
Whose kids drove her clean up the wall.
She begged ‘Do as you’re told
Before I grow old’
But the order was far too tall.
(So she’s still on the ceiling…)
Happy Families by Janey Fraser is Published by Arrow. £6.99
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