DA Kentner writes the column THE READERS' WRITERS for the (Freeport) Journal-Standard and GateHouse News Service. My alter ego KevaD lives under a stairway of dreams where he writes stories and grumbles about everything. Click the pic to visit KevaD's blog.
Drop me a line at dakentner@yahoo.com

I invite you to read my award-winning short story posted on Calliope Magazine's web site.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Award-Winning Art Director and Author JT Lawrence

South Africa’s Janita “JT” Lawrence describes herself as a ‘long-legged redhead with a penchant for words and pretty things… practices yoga and drinks beer.’ While we obviously see JT’s humorous side, what is hidden is that JT is in reality a businesswoman with an advertising background bent on producing some of the best thriller and suspense stories a reader can find. If her debut novel “The Memory of Water” is any indication, she is well on her way to doing just that.

JT incorporates her native country and snippets of language into a tightly woven tale of murder and the protagonist, Slade Harris, who may have unwittingly plotted the crime, but is now most certainly the prime suspect. Harris is a man yet to come to terms with the ambiguities surrounding his sister’s death years ago. His turmoil has led him along a shaky path leaning toward thrill-seeking self-destruction, but still an inch or two from total collapse into darkness. Within this contemporary tale a reader will find a number of local cultural references that when melded with the author’s brand of humor and exquisite prose serve to paint a vivid picture of the settings and original characters. Simply put, “The Memory of Water” is fun, tense, and a novel that will leave the reader anxiously awaiting JT’s next offering.
http://thememoryofwater.blogspot.com/

Q) You have quite an affinity and devotion to business. In fact, you host a blog recommending books about business. How was it you decided to write thriller novels instead of nonfiction?

A) I find business very exciting; I’d go as far as to say it is one of my creative outlets. It’s hugely satisfying to see something you have created grow and find fast customers. Oh, and the joy that books bring! It trumps being a florist deliveryman any day.

While I love well-written non-fiction (Godwin’s ‘When a Crocodile Eats the Sun’ has stayed with me for years), I am a fiction girl at heart. I devour it, and feel compelled to write it. While my novels are usually thrillers, I don’t confine myself to a single genre. I enjoy experimenting with dark drama and comedy, too.

Q) We share a love of all books. Your enjoyment of reading created an online bookstore as well as suggesting novels to readers whether or not they buy them from you. Where do you believe your passion for reading came from?

A) My mother used to read Roald Dahl to my brother and I at bedtime and I remember being completely entranced with the bizarre, naughty, silly stories. He remains one of my favourite authors and I dream of the day I can repeat the tradition with my own children.

I grew up in a sports-mad family where we were either sitting on some grassy field somewhere or in front of the TV, watching days of (yawn!) cricket, or similar. I only started enjoying sport in my teens so in the mean time I had hours and hours to fill and would mow through whatever I could get my hands on.

Q) I’m curious about your background in art direction. Please share a little about your involvement and how that experience has or hasn’t influenced your writing.

A) I graduated as the top student in my year at the Triple A Advertising Academy and worked at the Jupiter Drawing Room for five years, then at #Network BBDO. I have a love/hate relationship with advertising: I love the people, the big ideas, the camaraderie (and the parties); I hate the frustration that goes with not getting great ideas through. My years in art direction probably taught me about idea generation and the importance (and satisfaction) in crafting, but most importantly it taught me how to handle criticism of my work. Once you’ve had your work torn up in front of you by a gun-wielding creative director with PTSD you don’t take subsequent criticism too personally.

Q) What’s a perfect morning for JT Lawrence?

A) Sundays are my perfect mornings: I read in bed till 10; have a big breakfast with my (dashing) husband, followed by cappuccinos and chocolate, and perhaps a stroll around our leafy neighbourhood. It sounds rather desperately smug, but no matter how good or bad the week has been, there is a kind of perfection in those mornings.

Q) You implanted quirks and foibles within Slade Harris that when combined with South African ambiance created a unique character readers may well want to see more of. Any plans to bring him back?

A) It would be tempting. What I find interesting is that while I disagree with almost everything he says and does, his character was so easy and fun to write. It’s as if I have intimate access to this living person … in my head. I guess all writers suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder to some degree.

Q) Any parting comments for readers who have yet to enjoy the intrigue of “The Memory of Water”?

A) Yes.

Mom, Dad & in-laws: don’t read the graphic sex scenes! It’ll just make things awkward.

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