NK Chats To… Janys Thornton

Hi Janys, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your novel, Female Remedies and what inspired it? 

I was part of a project to research into Women’s lives during WWI on the Isle of Sheppey where I live. I read all the local newspapers from 1914- 1919 but kept getting distracted by other stories – human interest stories. I thought there are tales to be told here and when I retired, just before lockdown, I had the time to write.


What’s your typical writing day like – do you have any writing rituals and a particular place you like to write? 

I usually write in the afternoon as I like to be busy. In the morning I either go to aerobics, or my art class, or I volunteer as treasurer for the Sheppey Little Theatre and I write once I’ve freed up my time, in my study.


Which fictional character would you like to meet and why? 

Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair. She is a modern woman living in Georgian times. She lives on her wits and makes her way in the world and she swims! She is so different to the usual fainting heroines of the time.


What elements make up a good historical story? 

Good research which doesn’t intrude in the story, and of course a good story.


From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like and how long does it typically take you? How do you know when you’ve done enough research? 

I make a plan, but don’t necessarily follow to it. I then start writing. I don’t stick to writing the beginning, then the middle, then the end. These can change as I write. I may find that something I want to say in the second half needs more explanation in the first, so I go back and write new scenes. Once I start editing, I look to flesh out characters, scenes and dialogue where needed. Once I’ve done this a few times I will get people to read my manuscript and see if it all works. The two novels I have completed have taken around a year each.

As I said earlier, the research for the main setting of WWI was done as part of a bigger project, but when I was writing, I constantly needed to check dates, check what food was available, and all sorts like school leaving age, cost of living and even train times from Michael Portillo’s friend – Bradshaws.


What’s your favourite word and why? 

Nevertheless! Its three words in one. It’s a statement and its better than saying words like “anyway”.


What are you currently working on? 

Another book in the Dockyard Teachers series about a disaster that happened. During WWI, a ship blew up in the Thames Estuary killing 79 dock workers. It’s the story about the widows left behind.


Which three people (alive or dead) would you invite to a dinner party? 

That’s hard, but nobody who has too faddier diet. My late sister didn’t eat any vegetables except baked beans or butter beans. Imagine inviting three people with similar but different eccentricities, you’d need to cook twenty different dishes just to keep them happy.


What advice would you give when first approaching an agent? 

I was lucky enough to get two introductions to literary agents. I was recommended to use the services of a literary consultant who both edited and told me how best to present my work to them, and I had positive feedback from one agent (but she said my novel was too commercial for her), so would recommend the services of David Llewelyn  https://triplelconsultancyservices.co.uk/.


Any other advice for aspiring writers? 

Get as many people as possible to read your manuscript and give you feedback. And act on that feedback, don’t just ignore it. If one person thinks it, so may others.


Would you rather –


Have the ability to see into the future or be able to visit the past?

Tricky – probably visit the past but only if I’m guaranteed I can come back to the here and now.


Have the ability to move things with your mind or read minds?

Move things, that way I can fetch something straight away, because if I stand up, go up stairs to fetch something, I’ve forgotten what it was before I reach the top step.


Have money or power?

Enough money to be comfortable is enough for me.


Have an endless summer or winter?

Isn’t the second choice Narnia under the White Witch?


Tea or coffee?

Tea every time. (Coffie makes me need the loo!)


Movie or book?

Do I have to choose? But probably book – there are few films that are better than the book.


Morning person or night owl?



Paperback or eBook?

Paperback – I like a real book that you can flick back when you need to check on something, you can measure how far you’ve got to go, and it wraps up better as a present.




About Janys Thornton – 

Janys Thornton is a retired Civil Servant and is married to Jeremy.

She has two dogs and a cat and helps run a community theatre. She was Long Listed for Poet of the Year at the Canterbury Festival for 2022.

Her hobbies are aerobics, painting, writing and visiting museums and galleries.




About Female Remedies – 

On the eve of the first World War, Maisie Kendall, a teacher at a girls school in a dockyard town where she lodges with the prim deputy headmistress, Miss Garrett. Maisie is befriended by Hattie and Rosie, who introduces her to a new and exciting life as an independent woman. She thinks she has found love with the handsome naval officer, Lieutenant Edward Prescott and she hopes he will marry her, but Edward is posted away from the town..

Meanwhile his friend, Lieutenant Peter Barnes becomes a a bigger part of Maisie’s circle of friends, sharing her interests and assisting her with school. When Hattie and Maisie are involved in a suffragette mission, Peter covers for them.

Then at a cricket match, Edward returns and sweeps Maisie off her feet, taking her to all the local functions. Maisie spends less time with her friends and soon regrets agreeing to holiday abroad with them in case Edward is posted again whilst she is overseas..

When war is declared Maisie is in Switzerland with Hattie and the prim Miss Garrett together with their friend Miss Ena Briggs. Edward ignores Maisie’s increasingly more desperate letters as she discovers she may be pregnant. A dramatic journey, outrunning the advancing Germans, makes her think again and consider her future..

Female Remedies is book one in the A Dockyard School Teachers series and was released in 2024. Click to buy on Amazon UK and Waterstones


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I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts.

I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

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