"It's impossible to discourage the real writers; they don't give a damn what you say." Sinclair Lewis

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Interview with Idaho Author, Janie Quinn Storck

Tell us a little about yourself, Janie.

First, Linda, thanks so much for requesting this interview and giving me this opportunity. I was born in a small town in Alabama but grew up in Miami, Florida. My husband and I moved to Idaho where we lived for a number of years and then returned to Florida. After retirement, we moved to the mountains of western North Carolina. We have recently moved back to Idaho, our first love. I have had several short stories published in literary magazines, one of which won an award.

Your newest release is COYOTE SUMMER, a children's novel set in Idaho. What's it about?

Shy, small-for-his-age, Gary Ryan, twelve, from Ohio, is sent to spend the summer with his gruff grandmother in Idaho. She owns a sheep ranch and is tending the sheep herself this summer. At first he wishes that he'd never come, but then he meets a mysterious, young Native American man and gets involved with an injured coyote. There is magic and mystery and Native American stories involving coyotes.

What, in particular, motivated you to write this story?

I read a newspaper article about a recent widow in Wyoming who was returning for one last summer to tend her remaining sheep. While her husband was alive, they had spent a couple of summers tending their sheep and looking at the stars through telescopes and fell in love with it. Around the same time, I read about some Basque sheepherders and the story came together from there.

What age group is it for, and what do you think children will learn or take away from it?

It is for the 8-12 age group. I hope they will learn about how all life is connected and enjoy the comical stories about the coyote. I also like to insert magic in my children's books because children get far too much realism nowadays.

In 2011, you released an adult psychic thriller, FROM THE SHADOWS. Will you tell us what it’s about?

Anne Merrill, a reluctant psychic, leaves her home in Bermuda to become an agent for OSS during WWII. She soon finds herself in a psychic battle with her powerful, German-born, psychic father, Albert, as well as with an ancient, secret society, the Chhayas (Shadows) Society, that is attempting to help the Nazis defeat the Allies. During all this, she and fellow OSS agent, half-white/half-Navajo, Paul Bancroft, who is haunted by the shadow of a terrible hereditary disease, fall in love. Anne first plays cat-and-mouse games with a female Nazi spy in Istanbul. She is then sent to Berlin when OSS penetrates the Third Reich. The story is told mostly from Anne's viewpoint but also from Paul and Albert's viewpoint as the story action vaults from Bermuda to London to New York to Spain to Turkey and, lastly, to Berlin.

Did psychic espionage actually play a role in WWII, and was Hitler engaged in this and other aspects of the occult?

From a couple of nonfiction books I read, Hitler was described as being an explorer of the occult mysteries. And, supposedly, Himmler, as well as others around Hitler, was deeply involved in belief in the occult. It was said that the rise of the Third Reich was meticulously contrived and orchestrated. The ceremonies surrounding some of Hitler's banal speeches were said to have been occult-inspired and superbly stage-managed to control the people. And in England, there were psychics who met together to raise their powers to keep the Germans out of England. Also, supposedly, British Intelligence, and probably OSS, put a few psychics and astrologers on the payroll. And there was the wife of a high military official who, purportedly, could 'see' enemy ships and submarines at sea. And, at least in one instance, her information helped the Allies to sink some German submarines. Also, during WWII, a Jew, executed by the Nazis, was reported to have used paranormal powers to help the Polish resistance. In WWI, there were dowsers who were able to locate mines, traps and drinking water with success. And there were a few reports of psychic abilities being used in battles.

You've lived in a number of places. What made you want to return to Idaho?

My husband and I have traveled extensively, including visiting all of the lower 48 states. Early on in our travels, we fell in love with the West. I think, in some strange way, I was always in love with the West from childhood. And for people growing up in a big city, Idaho's remoteness appealed to us, as did its wide-open spaces. There is a spirit about the West that you don't find anywhere else in the country.

What part of writing a novel is the most fun for you? Developing the idea? Doing the research? Or writing that first (or last) draft? Or some other aspect of the process?

I love doing research. In fact, I have to control myself or I could go on researching forever and never start writing. I must insert here that I greatly miss the old card-catalogs in the library, as I would start out looking at one subject and find connected subjects in the card-catalogs that would open up new ideas, new vistas for me.

Writers tend to be quirky when they sit down to write. Some write in their PJs; some have to have a pot of black coffee, or tea. Others get the brain cells flowing with some dark chocolate or a glass of wine. Some like silence; others like music. Some can write anywhere; others only in their offices. What works for you to get the creativity flowing?

The chocolate sounds appealing, as I am a chocolate fiend. Seriously, I need absolute quiet and really write best in my office. And I am not a morning person, so it is most always in the afternoon. But I don't have any other quirks about writing.

Do you believe a writer has to wait for the muse? Or do you believe the best way to get a novel written is to go at it like any other job and apply thy bottom to the chair and thy fingers to the keyboard?

I have always tried to approach writing as a job. Perspiration more than inspiration. If I didn't approach it that way, I don't think I'd get much writing done. The muse can be very fickle.

Besides being a writer, you are also an accomplished artist. As a matter of fact, you did the cover art for COYOTE SUMMER. How do these two forms of creativity complement each other in your life?

For me, drawing and painting is a fun-type activity that I mostly do for relaxation. It is a different way of being creative, a different way of seeing things. I only wish that I had more time for it, but my writing is what is most important to me.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I am close to publishing another book. It is a contemporary romantic-suspense, with emphasis on the suspense elements. I am a big fan of Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels (aka Elizabeth Peters) romantic-suspense books. And I know from a book catalog I get that Mary Stewart books still sell very well. I also have another romantic-suspense novel and another middle-grade children's novel completed and waiting in the wings. I am also now doing research on another novel that at this point I could not categorize.

Thanks again, Linda, for giving me the chance to do this interview.

You’re most welcome, Janie! Thank you for giving us this opportunity to learn about your work.

Review Excerpt from Pam Brewer, book reviewer for the Idaho Statesman:

“FROM THE SHADOWS is a frightening look at what the world could be if psychic powers were used for evil. This is a psychological thriller that keeps you turning the pages until the end. It grabs you from the beginning, taking you through a roller coaster ride of emotion. Storck has done an excellent job of mixing history, espionage, and romance. Recommended.”

You can purchase Janie’s books through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Interview by Linda Sandifer


  1. Fascinating post and the books sound wonderful. I used to read a lot of Mary Stewart. So many good books out there, I feel like i'm pedaling backward to keep up!

  2. I know what you mean, Irene. So many books, so little time.

  3. Ditto Irene and Linda. My stack of "to read" books grows by leaps and bounds. Janie's stories sound really interesting, I'll have to take a look on Amazon & B & N. I lived in Idaho a few years Bonners Ferry, moved in High school from Libby, MT. In Kansas now for many years, but a part of me never really left that part of the country.

  4. Interesting post, Linda. we should do more of these guest posts and interviews on our blog.

  5. It was fun to hear how Janie approaches her daily task of writing.

    I have to say, I can relate to your "so many books, so little time" comment.

    I live in Kuna so Boise, Nampa, Meridian, and Eagle are pretty much equal distances of just a few miles away. It's pretty much all one city around here with tons of used book stores and I have a friend who loves to read as much as I do. Next time I go, I'll look for Janie's older books and Barbara Michaels and Mary Stewart as well. I'm a big Mary Stewart fan. Would love to get those again.

    Thanks so much for the info and the memory jog.

  6. LadyMac, I wish we had tons of used bookstores in or around my town. We only have one now, and I can buy used books cheaper from Amazon even with postage. I miss going into a physical store, though, and browsing. I always found great books and authors I had not heard of before. As for Janie's FROM THE SHADOWS, I can personally recommend it. I haven't yet read COYOTE SUMMER, but I think it will be a good one for my three grandchildren.

  7. Great interview. Loved the history lessen. From The Shadows sounds like my type of book.