Janine Galliano realised her childhood dream of becoming an author with the publication of her first novel, The Inheritance, shortly followed by The Lost Ring, written during a career-break gap year.
Describing herself as a bookworm, a child growing up with Goosebumps, then expanding to classic horror authors such as Stephen King, James Herbert and Dean Koontz, J Galliano – penname for Janine, ‘because Janine isn’t a particularly scary name’ – is already working on her third and fourth novels, in the supernatural horror genre.
“Each story has a different theme,” she says. “Cursed objects with a twist, demonic presences, exploring the realms of the unexplained and the supernatural.”
Her head was teeming with ideas for a gripping story since her adolescence, so she started from what seemed to be the touchstone of the genre: the haunted house – but with the added bonus of a close-knit family moving across a large country, from metropolitan to rural life.
“Cursed objects with a twist, demonic presences, exploring the unexplained and the supernatural.”
In The Inheritance, years in the making, with loads of reviewing and rewriting, a Chicago family starts afresh in a country mansion in Georgia they’ve come into, only to fall in the grip of family secrets from a past that is still present. And tense.
“I picked the States as a setting, because, as my stories play out in my head like movies, and most movies are set in North America, it seemed the natural choice for my debut tribute to the genre,” Janine explains, adding that her second book is set in familiar locations, partly in Bristol, where she spent four years for her environmental studies degrees, and partly in Tarifa, a place she’s fond of.
Her stories aren’t gory, but chilling, with suspense build and psychological insight. “There are creaking doors, nightmares, shadows, toys coming to life, drownings, etc., but I am not a fan of gore. I got so attached to Malteser, the pet dog in The Inheritance, that I couldn’t let any harm come to him. I like to explore the depth of my characters, their motivations, and the reason why something inexplicable happens to them. Here is where you need to be original.”
Janine is now back at work full-time, and her spare time is shared between writing, promoting her Brelli Bag, and being the co-trustee of a rewilding charity called Whole Wild World, with its founding project in Algarve, created by Jess Leaper and her husband Jan Kjetil. (Note: the full story about this initiative was published in the November issue of this very magazine.)
So, J Galliano’s third and fourth novels are progressing slowly but surely: “I find that working on more than one script at once boosts my creativity and makes me more productive. When I am not inspired to advance the plot of one, I turn to the other instead.”
The Jack Sawyer Chronicles, Book One: The Devil is in the Detail is, as the title suggests, the first of a series set in the UK, with its devilish details still in the works. All we’re allowed to know is that the Sawyer family was introduced in The Inheritance, as custodians of cursed objects, but young Jack doesn’t know that yet.
Here is where you need to be original.
In the Midst of Fog is a tale about a strange little town in France, in which the two main protagonists stumble upon accidentally but only one of them makes it out. The inspiration for this tale came to Janine in a dream.
“I write in first person. The drawbacks and limitations are you cannot give the reader any other information other than what the narrator experiences. To go round that, I’ve written in first person from the point of view of more than one character, including a teenager and a young child. Adapting the dialogue to theirs is the challenge.”
Janine prefers horror stories with a meaningful and happy resolution, but also supports the classic ‘cliff-hanger’ ending, so she is following that trend in her work.
And if a dark cloud is hanging over your Christmas, never fear: Janine is also the designer of some stylish rainproof covers, on sale at Trends, to carry your handbag and its contents safely home and dry.
This novel fashion idea for a rainy day occurred to her when she had to wrap her white handbag in plastic to protect it from the elements: “It was a nice one which I cherished and I didn’t want it to get ruined. So I thought: what about a ‘raincoat’ for handbags?”
A niche in the market found, the Brelli Bag brand was born, designed and trademarked, together with the patterns for these elegant but handy (no pun intended!) clear and waterproof covers, and her business started.
“I had never dipped into business before and these past two years have been a steep learning curve, finding a manufacturer and points of sale for my product.”
And while it is taking the winter season by storm (again, no pun intended!) Janine is already musing about the summer Brelli Bag Beach Tote and expanding the range even further.