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Jane Langan Interview (short stories)

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

The Solstice Baby on a device by the pool

Q1. What inspired you to write this book?

A1. That’s a tricky question as each story came from a different place. Some of the stories, like Púca and The China Doll were written for my masters in creative writing with the Open University (OU). Others came from writing prompts or just out of my imagination. The Solstice Baby story is a version of my story. I’m adopted and my parents got me on the Winter Solstice, other than that the story is pure fiction.

Q2. What did you learn when writing your book?

A2. I have always written something. I have written a diary since I was a child and still do. I have written a blog since 2009. I have written poetry and stories in the back of notebooks for years. I just decided, around the time I was fifty, that I should stop putting them at the back of the books and bring them to the front.

What I have learned is that writing is a job. You need to set time for it and then put your pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and just write – it may be nonsense and it may be nothing. But occasionally a gem of a thing emerges. I have also learned my grammar is rubbish and I have to work really hard to ensure it isn’t!

I also learned, when I was editing The Solstice Baby and Other Stories, that all these stories hold up in their own right (in my opinion) even the ones I thought weren’t as good after I had just written them. They are a body of work, which I have poured and stressed over and I should be proud of that.

Q3. Which is your favourite story in your book?

A3. That’s like choosing a favourite child, but if I must – I like Socks – It’s a 50-word story that really gets to the essence of being a parent. For a longer piece, probably Púca – not necessarily because I think it is the best story, but because I poured everything, I had into it. It was the first story I handed in as a TMA for the OU – It has been rewritten, renamed and all sorts. It is also, probably, the closest to the style of fiction I like best. I like stories set in reality, but with a twist.

Q4. You say you treat writing as a job, how many hours a day do you write?

A4. My day starts and 9am and usually finishes about 3pm so I can cook dinner for my family – my husband works shifts and my youngest daughter gets in about 4pm after school - they are usually famished. I can’t always write all day – like most writers I have a side hustle – I have a little shop on Etsy that sells gifts and curated vintage things. Most mornings I fill in the spreadsheet to show what I have sold, print out packing slips and postage labels and at lunch time package up things. I go to the post office every other day, except at Christmas time when it gets really busy and I have to go daily. After I have done that, I check the Castle Priory Press email and respond to any queries there if Ruth hasn’t got there first. I also make any amendments to the website etc. After that it’s time to write – usually by about 10am – 11am. I write poetry, short stories and novels. When I am novel writing, I tend to be quite focused and do nothing but that. When I am working on poetry or short stories, I also look at competitions I can enter or magazines who are looking for submissions. Sometimes, If I don’t feel I have done enough, I will work in the evenings. Especially if my husband is on the late shift.

Q5. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?

A4. I was quite wild as a teenager, but always into reading and writing. The only O level I got an A in was English Literature. I also did OK in English Language – although I think the curriculum back then let me down, which I realised when I came to do my BA and realised how awful my grammar was. That stopped me writing. My first degree was in Drama and English Literature – In the first year my English lecturer made me feel like a complete idiot, sent me to ‘special’ classes to help my grammar and made me rewrite numerous essays – I only just scraped through my first year. The whole thing bashed my confidence and I stopped writing creatively for a quite a while. If that hadn’t happened, I think I would have gone down the master’s route sooner. And the more I write, I believe, the better I become at it.

I read somewhere that it takes about six novels to become a good novel writer – I have written three. The first still needs so much editing it scares me. The second is in a good place but I know it could be better. The third is written but again needs editing. So, I just have three more to go and then who knows.

J M Langan's short stories are varied in length and genre. There will be something for everyone within these pages. It's broken down into 6 helpful sections so you can choose the order or leave some out if a section is not for you. I missed out most of the horror section.

Some will surprise you, some you will find have taken up residence in your head, all well written and all pulling you in. 'Socks' and the 'Self cleaning woman' come to mind although all are worthy of praise. An enjoyable collection. Very happy to read more by the author.


1 husband, 2 children, 2 cats, 1 camera, 1 laptop, 1 blog ... My name is Jane, but if you type in MuddyNoSugar into Google you'll find me. I've been blogging since 2009. I blog about the world we live in, my kids, CML (Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia), mental health, the menopause, grief, and what makes me grumpy.

I have successfully completed my masters degree in creative writing and I'm currently working on my second novel. I have a book of poetry called Blood Kisses published and available here. I also have some of my poems published here and in various other online magazines.

I was co-founder and editor of the online creative arts magazine Makarelle and now I'm in the process of setting up a small independent publishing house with my friend and fellow writer RE Loten - more about that here. As none of my writing makes me a living (yet!), I also have a little gift shop full of lovely handmade and vintage things - you can check that out here.

If that's all a bit much link wise, just use my linktree. This is my Linktree I am available for any freelance writing work.


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Jul 31, 2023

Fab interview. Well done both Lily and Jane.

Jul 31, 2023
Replying to

thank you

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