Site icon BookerTalk

Meet The Welsh Writing Duo Influenced by Rhythm and Russians

J L Harland is a collaboration between two Welsh authors — Jacqueline Harrett and Janet Laugharne. They also write separately under their own names. Here they talk about their earliest childhood reading memory and the influence of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Solzhenitsyn.

Earliest Reading Memory

Jan: Cloth or cardboard book, bright yellow ducks, present from aunt? Might have been from America. Aged two? 

Jacqui: Too long ago to remember although I do remember my father telling stories.

The Author Who Changed My Mind

Jan: Hard question. So many authors! But Gerard Manley Hopkins when a student because I found the language, his sprung rhythm, just amazing. And there was association with his poem Penmaenpool as I lived near there (though that poem is written in a different style and tone).

Jacqui: Agree. It’s a difficult one. When I came across Solzhenitsyn I was fascinated at the bleak descriptions of the Russian gulags and the concepts of prison and punishment. I did my dissertation on his works so it must have had some influence..

The writing duo known as J L Harland: Jacqueline Harrett (left) and Janet Laugharne

The Author I Keep Returning To

Jan: Jane Harper. A wonderful writer in so many ways, style, setting and plot. Also the added interest of her books being set in Australia.

Jacqui: Oh yes. I love all those too. And Belinda Bauer. She’s so skilled at drawing the reader in and keeping them hooked right to the end.

The Last Book I Bought

Jan: i bought Tim Weaver’s The Dead Tracks at a book event. I also got an audio version of Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith.

Jacqui: My latest purchases were Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and The Pact by Sharon Bolton. I also pre-ordered a copy of The Accomplice by Steve Cavanagh after listening to him at an online event hosted by Griffin Books. I prefer a book but will read on screen.

Most Recommended Book

Jan: Again, so many! Recommended by other people, or recommend to other people? If the latter, Mark Billingham’s Rabbit Hole is a fantastically well-plotted story. I also recommend Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller for its lyricism and original premise.

Jacqui: Indeed. I’ve read so many fantastic books. The Memory by Judith Barrow with the authentic voice and portrayal of dementia is a real tearjerker and The Empty Greatcoat by Rebecca F. John has such beautiful writing.

An Unexpected Pleasure

Jan: : Audio books. Didn’t expect to find that way of ‘reading’ satisfactory, but I really enjoy it alongside Kindle and print books.

Jacqui: Ah, I was going to say that our writing together and finding the J. L. Harland blended voice was a very unexpected pleasure.

You Won’t Find Me Reading …

Jan: Erotica or very much historical fiction.

Jacqui: I’m not keen on horror as my imagination takes me to enough dark and frightening places and I’d never sleep. 

I Would Love To Have A Drink/Dinner With …

Jan: Abir Mukherjee. Do have a listen to his podcast Red Hot Chilli Writers with Vaseem Khan.

Jacqui: Oh, he’s very funny. Think I’d like either David Attenborough as he’s had such an interesting life or Marion Keyes because she seems so genuine.

My Favourite Writing Place

Jan: For prose, my desk and pc; for poetry, kitchen table. 

Jacqui: Perched on the end of the sofa with the laptop.My bed.

I Wish I’d Written …

Jan: No time for regrets

Jacqui: I’ve always wanted to write a picture book like Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Maybe it’s not too late?.

The Authors Behind The Name J L Harland

J L Harland is a collaboration between two Welsh authors — Jacqueline Harrett and Janet Laugharne who published their first novel together in February 2022.

What Lies Between Them, published by Dixi Books is set in Cardiff, Wales. It tells the story of Elin Fiorelli, a woman haunted by the past and the challenges in her life both at home and in work.

Jacqui and Jan are now working on a sequel, meeting regularly at cafes and pubs near their home in South Wales to share ideas around plot and character development.

Jan grew up in North Wales where she gained an intimate knowledge of the world of writing and publishing through her father Cledwyn Hughes, an Anglo Welsh writer. In her professional life as an academic and teacher she wrote and edited extensively while writing creatively purely for pleasure. Since retirement she has been able to devote more time to this interest, and has had poetry published in a variety of anthologies and magazines.

Jacqui is originally from Northern Ireland though has lived in Wales for many years.

Her debut novel, The Nesting Place, a police procedural, was published by Diamond Crime in November 2021. A sequel, The Whispering Trees, is at first draft stage.

A former teacher and academic, with a passion for oral storytelling, Jacqui’s book for teachers Exciting Writing, (Sage) won the UKLA Author Award. Her other publications include a mini book on storytelling, and various pieces of short fiction published in anthologies and online. She has also written for children.

You can follow these authors via their website and blog and at Twitter @JLHarlandAuthor

What Lies Between Them: Synopsis

When Elin Fiorelli returns to Brynderwen university she is confident that a professorship is within her grasp. But, Life has other plans. Michael Hardwick, her former lover, is now her boss and her job may be in jeopardy.

Her mother’s terminal illness adds to her problems as Elin tries to balance work and duty while facing the ghosts of her past. Can Elin come to terms with the trauma of her past and fulfil her dreams?

Publication date: 22 February 2022

Exit mobile version