Here at Danville Public Library, we are proud to feature the works of more than 150 local authors. Each Monday, we are featuring one of our beloved local authors by sharing a bit about them and their work.
This week, we feature local author, Jane Creason. We asked her a few questions about her past and present work, her favorite books, and what her writing process is like.
What made you decide to start writing? Did you (or do you currently) have another career?
I’m not sure why I began writing in the 1980s. I’d never kept a diary or written stories as a child. A friend, however, told me one year, after reading my annual Christmas letter, that I should be a writer. Another one told me that I should write about a family event. I actually did in a historical fiction novel set in World War II. I started teaching English at Danville High School in 1963, and I taught my last class at DACC in December, 2019. In between those jobs, I taught eight years in a grade school and twelve in a middle school.
What do you love about writing? What is challenging about it?
My short stories and novels are all character driven. Developing those characters is my greatest joy. For example, the main character in The Heron Stayed is a teen-aged boy. Some years after I finished that story, I started a sequel since I just wasn’t done with him yet. I had no idea about the plot when I started it. The most challenging part is when I get stuck as I did when writing that sequel, All the Right Pieces. The early chapters sat in my computer for months and months as I mentally tried to take him farther into his journey while I mowed the yard or did the dishes.
Do you have a writing routine? Daily? Whenever the fancy hits you?
I write sporadically— furiously for a while and then nothing. Part of my problem is that I feel that what I’ve written so far needs to be nearly perfect. I read a professional writer describe it as feeling that what he writes is like a brick wall. If the bottom isn’t done well, the whole thing crumbles. I proofread and revise over and over before I can move on.
Which of your books gave you the most pleasure in writing? Which was the hardest?
When the War Came to Hannah is the novel based on part of my family history. I spent most of a summer at the Danville Library doing research about that time period. I read books and memoirs. That book means a great deal to me. The most challenging to write was Conspiracy, which I co-authored with my dad, Dr. Edwin M. Swengel. I took a manuscript he was working on when he died and finished it—a two-year project. I tell the whole story of how this came [about] in a foreword to the novel.
What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to young or beginning writers?
Write for yourself. Don’t plan on getting rich and famous. Enjoy the reaction of anyone reading your work. I have no idea how many people have read my novels, but the reactions of some who have responded are treasured.
You’re stranded on an island with one book (written by another author). Which book did you bring?
I’d want to reread Roots by Alex Haley.
Any books in progress at the moment? Expected publishing date?
I’m working on a memoir related to my forty+ years [of] teaching at four different levels in Vermilion County. As I explained, I’m currently stuck with about two-thirds completed. I recently started rereading the first 240 pages, hoping to get started again. No publication date yet—hopefully before I pass on.
We’re so grateful for this author’s participation in our Local Author Spotlight post. Be sure to check out Jane’s books at Danville Public Library!