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.

JACQUELINE HARRETT
Author

Jacqui Harrett was born and brought up in Northern Ireland but has lived in various parts of Wales for over forty years. Cardiff is her home now. Her book on writing with children Exciting Writing, (Sage) won the UKLA Author Award in 2006 and her teaching ideas have been published in TES. A mini-book on storytelling, Tell me Another, was published by UKLA and she has had various academic publications on topics related to storytelling and writing.

A former teacher and academic she now concentrates on writing fiction, for adults and children. Her short story, ‘A Soldier’s Tale’, was published in The Wish Dog (Honno). In 2016 a novel, Elin, co-authored with Janet Laugharne, was longlisted for the Cinnamon Debut Novel Prize. Short fiction has been published online with Modernartbypost, Paragraph Planet and Adhocfiction. At present she is planning a sequel for Elin with Jan and editing her psychological crime novel, Hell Hath No Fury.

JANET LAUGHARNE
Author

Originally from Gwynedd, North Wales, Janet Laugharne has lived in Cardiff for many years. A professor emeritus with a keen interest in languages, her non-fiction writing has been published by Bloomsbury, Springer and Multilingual Matters.

Janet is now relishing the return to creative writing with several successes. She has had a story, ‘Going Home’, published in Yours magazine, commendations in Writers’ Forum and publications online in Litro and Paragraph Planet. Janet also writes poetry and she won first prize in Writers’ Forum, for her poem ‘Chopin in the Park (Warsaw 1976)’.

Co-authored work has also enjoyed some success with a novel, Elin, being long-listed for the Cinnamon Debut Novel Prize in 2016. At present, Janet is working on a crime novel, The Penaluna Way, and co-writing the sequel to Elin with Jacqui Harrett.

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.

Ready 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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