Posted May 7 ’12

Janice Bane is mean.  Born in my novel Point Dume, she was always a disillusioned, unhappy, frequently stoned wife and mother but not a particularly malicious person.   Back in novel #3 she had wishes and dreams, there was graduate school to think about, intensive Jungian therapy, guided self-care exercises and the vague yet hopeful possibility of a divorce.  Janice was poised to rise above the pettiness of her day-to-day; she had a real shot at happiness.  I rooted for her while I was writing Point Dume and felt confident she would succeed.

A few years later Janice is front and center in my new novel.  Things have not gone well.  A difficult and competitive mother, critical father, emotionally challenged sister and monumentally insensitive husband have eaten away at Janice’s natural optimism.   The whole parenting thing is proving to be somewhat less fulfilling than promised.  Friends are shallow.  Life holds little purpose.  These days Janice takes a lot of drugs, drinks too much, and is plagued by an extreme form of the general malaise that strikes many of the over-privileged women on the Westside of Los Angeles.  Janice Bane is miserable and cannot tolerate happiness in others.   She sees the world through very beady eyes.

More than once I’ve said that if you’re going to talk about the rodeo you better be willing to climb up on the bull.  In order to write from an authentic place, one must inhabit some aspect of a character’s world.  The writer must soak in the lifestyles and philosophies of her people, visit their homes, drive their cars, eat their food.  She must get inside their skin and wear it before she can even think about speaking with their voice.  If that doesn’t sound like fun, I suggest you find another day job.

So right now, as I work through the endless mid-point of my untitled novel-in-progress, I’m walking around in the body of Janice Bane, seeing the world through her dark, dark glasses.  I’ve been with Janice for quite awhile and the solid boundary between her grievances and mine are blurring but I need to state for the record that the following is a list of HER issues, not mine.  Sweet-tempered me would never stoop to this low and petty level.  Ever.

Five things Janice Bane hates:

1. JUICERS (people who juice).

You with your food fads, pushing your scientifically challenged philosophies about health and welfare on the world at large.  You are nothing more than culinary fashion victims; you change your eating habits with the seasons.  All meat/no carbs, vegan, rawtarian, fruitarian.  You swig your oxygenated water with ionic separation alkalinization with self-satisfied arrogance.   Keep it to yourselves, people.  We don’t want to hear it.


No one should have to smell you.  Do not invade the olfactory system of your fellow man with your strong, store-bought, personal smell.


Men, it is fine if you have a favorite necklace or bracelet, something of sentimental value, a self-defining ring.  But the man who shows up one day with bear claws around his neck,

the next with a diamond encrusted skull dangling on a platinum chain,

and dog tags the following day, the guy who sports a variety of bracelets or rings, that guy is not welcome. 

That guy needs to step away from the mirror.


Unless you’re willing to drop down on all fours, this should not be allowed.

5. LIT TALK (Janice’s main pet peeve)

Can fiction be relevant in today’s world? What does the future hold for the short story?  Is the novel really dead?  Really?  Are there any stupider questions than these?  Don’t you people have anything better to do with your time than to pose and ponder these ridiculous notions?  Writers are going to tell their stories no matter what the critics and theorists come up with in their classrooms and symposiums.  We writers don’t care about your conclusions.  You are the fans, sitting in the bleachers.  You may cheer us on or heckle us.  It doesn’t matter.   We are going to go on fighting our way towards the goal while you concoct new and inventive ways to justify your inclusion in the conversation.  Your questions are meaningless.  The best thing you could do is be quiet.  Watch and learn.


This concludes Janice’s list of annoying subjects.  As you can see, she has a lot of issues.  My hope is that she works through them quickly or that I finish the book so that I can shed her skin and step back into the world with my usual sunny disposition fully intact.  I hope you have enjoyed this peek inside Janice Bane’s head.

Katie Arnoldi as Janice Bane