A Bit About Us

We are both former teachers and lecturers with many years’ experience writing, both academically and creatively. We have run workshops on storytelling, poetry and creative writing. We are both convinced that writing can be therapeutic as well as creative and that everyone can find some spark of creativity within themselves. Writing can be an intensely private thing or it can be shared with others.

We have both been writers from an early age and retirement has given us the time to explore and extend the knowledge gained from a working lifetime encouraging others to learn and develop. Jan’s father was a writer, Cledwyn Hughes, and Jacqui’s father told stories, encouraging her imagination from an early age.

At present, we are writing a sequel to our co-authored novel, Elin. We also have separate writing projects. Following a course in crime writing at Cardiff University, we are both editing our crime novels.

J. L. Harland

One Name. Two Authors.

A photo of Jacqui and Jan against a leafy background

JACQUELINE HARRETT
Author

Jacqui is from Northern Ireland but has lived in Wales for many years. She has two grown-up children, the critical reader and the webmaster, who helps with the technology.

Her debut novel, The Nesting Place, a police procedural, was published by Diamond Crime in November 2021. A sequel, The Whispering Trees, is at first draft stage.

A former teacher and academic, with a passion for oral storytelling, Jacqui’s book for teachers Exciting Writing, (Sage) won the UKLA Author Award. Her other publications include a mini book on storytelling, and various pieces of short fiction published in anthologies and online. She has also written for children.

As J. L. Harland, Jacqui enjoys co-authoring with Janet Laugharne. Their debut novel, What Lies Between Them, will be published by Dixi Books in February 2022 and they are working on the sequel, and a collection of short stories.

JANET LAUGHARNE
Author

Books and writing were a central part of Janet’s life growing up in North Wales as the daughter of Cledwyn Hughes, an Anglo Welsh writer. She became aware early of the business side – proofs coming in, correspondence, press cuttings – and, of course, the highs and lows of a writing career.

She went on to write and edit many hundreds of thousands of words as an academic and teacher, close-up and personal with the craft of writing. Along the way she continued to write creatively for personal pleasure. More recently, on retirement, she has savoured having space and time for this sort of writing.

She enjoys the challenge of writing in different forms. As well as short and longer fiction, Janet’s poetry has been published in a variety of anthologies and magazines, most recently two poems in Acumen. As one half of J. L. Harland, she also relishes the opportunities of co-writing and is looking forward with Jacqui to the launch of their debut novel, What Lies Between Them, in February 2022.

A proud mother and grandmother, Janet has a lifelong interest in yoga, vegetable gardening and vegetarianism.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How did you start writing together?

A. Well, we’d worked together in the past and we had a mutual interest in writing. The actual writing together started with us helping each other with criticism of things we’d written; writing buddies in effect. Then, we decided to set ourselves tasks and see what we could make of them. For example, writing sci-fi, which neither of us felt competent at. Having said that Jan’s story was highly commended in Writers’ Forum.
After that we did a writing course and met every week beforehand to have a chat. During one of these coffee chats we decided that we’d have a go at writing together and it all started from there.

Q. But what about the writer’s voice that we hear so much about? With two of you surely there were problems with that.

A. Much to our surprise our writing voices are quite similar and by the time we have edited a million times its hard to tell who has written what. Thankfully, neither of us has great ego over our words. We aren’t precious about any of it and we both want the same thing – to get published. Having said that we are both realistic about the pressures of life and how things can get in the way, so we give each other leeway when life takes over and the writing doesn’t flow as quickly as we want.

Q. So you never argue over things?

A. We wouldn’t say that! Of course, we have disagreements but fundamentally we both want the same thing and that is to produce writing that is worth reading. Quite often we think the same things and finish each other’s sentences as we are very much on the same wavelength. We realise how lucky we are in that respect. If there is a problem with something, a plot line, or a character, for example, we talk it through until we reach a solution. Sometimes we’ve found the characters taking us on a journey we hadn’t expected.

Q. How closely do you plot the story?

A. It all starts with the characters. We spent ages working out the personalities we wanted, their habits, what they looked like, ate, attitudes, ways of speaking and all that until we felt we knew them. Then we sat in the pub for hours working out the story line, bit by bit. We had a vague idea of the story arc but it sort of evolved.

Q. So a long time working on the plot before the writing?

A. Yes. We would spend about two hours getting an outline of about four chapters at a time and then go off and write.

Q. Who did what with the writing? One writing and one editing or what? How does it work?

A. We did alternate chapters. Then we read through, edited together at first and then took a couple of chapters at a time to edit and email back and forth to each other. After that we went through four chapters at a time and did the same. We reckon Elin has been edited about twenty times, at least, and
expect an editor to tell us to make even more changes. After working in the academic field the process of editing and re-doing things is expected and we quite enjoy the tussle.

Q. What plans for the future?

A. The sequel to Elin’s story. We have a few more ideas to explore and more problems for her to solve. Life isn’t going to be easy for her.

Q. And after that?

A. Lots of ideas. We hope to write a crime novel together and we certainly intend to help each other with projects. We are both buzzing with thoughts and plans and it’s very hard to curb the enthusiasm for lots of things. However, we need to focus on getting the second book written first.

Like to Talk?

Is there a way we can help you with your writing? Look at the blog for some ideas or email us with your queries.

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