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Facts and Figures
Born: Janet Haradon, May 21, 1944, Storm Lake, Iowa, in northwest Iowa, population 8,800.
Janet: I was born on the cusp between Gemini and Taurus. Most astrologers disagree about which sign I'm under, so if I read the daily horoscopes, I generally read both signs and pick the one that sounds the most exciting.
Childhood: Grew up in Early, Iowa, population about 727. Her father, Boyd Haradon, died when she was five years old. When Janet was thirteen, her mother, Louise, married Glenn Rutherford, and the family moved to Independence, Iowa, population 5,500. Janet has three older sisters and four stepbrothers.
SCHOOLS: In the sixth grade, in Early, Janet wrote her first story. Called "Toby, the Bad Teddy Bear," it was followed by "Willie, the Bookworm." She attended Jefferson High School in Independence, Iowa, and graduated in 1962. At Jefferson she was a cheerleader, a member of the Writers' Club, and editor of the yearbook, The Wapsie.
Favorite Authors: Edna Ferber, Louis L'Amour, James Michener.
Adulthood: In 1963, she moved to nearby Omaha, Nebraska, attended secretarial school, and then worked for thirteen years as secretary and assistant to Bill Dailey, fifteen years her senior. Bill and Janet were married in 1965 or 1966. They don't remember the exact date.
In 1975 Janet started writing on a dare from Bill. Her first book, No Quarter Asked, was published in January 1976 by Harlequin Books. She was their first American author. During the next six years, Harlequin published fifty-seven romance novelsby Janet Dailey.
She is now the number one female writer in America and the third-best-selling living author in the world. One hundred and eighty million copies of her romance novels and other books have been sold in nineteen languages in ninety-eight countries.
The Silver Streak Tour: In 1974, Janet's mother and stepfather sold their home and traveled in a trailer. A few months later, Janet and Bill Dailey decided to retire. Both had worked so hard that they found a life of leisure incredibly boring. In the search for "adventure," they bought a 1975 31-foot Airstream pulled by a 1975 Lincoln — and traveled 100,000 miles. On a dare from Bill, Janet wrote her first novel and didn't stop until she had written a book set in every U.S. state. The second trailer, a 33-foot Silver Streak pulled by a 1978 Lincoln is now in the carriage house at Belle Rive.
Publishing Highlights: In 1978, while still writing for Harlequin, Janet began to write other types of books for other publishers.
Touch the Wind, published in 1979 by Pocket Books, was set in Mexico, Janet's first locale outside of the U.S. The Rogue, published in 1980, included the first oral sex in a romance novel. Surprisingly, it was done to a woman by a man. Sales of each of these two books were close to one million copies. Her twelve Pocket Books include the Calder series, set in Montana.
The Daileys were instrumental in forming Silhouette Books, which is now a subsidiary of Harlequin Enterprises. In three years, from 1981 to 1984, Silhouette published twelve books by Janet Dailey at the same time that other books by her were published by Harlequin, Pocket Books, and Poseidon Press (a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster), a unique and prodigious record in the publishing industry.
Mainstream Fiction: Janet wrote sixty-nine novels of the romance category, a type of escapist fantasy. Then she evolved into "mainstream romance," which is more realistic, and now writes "women's fiction," though she has many male readers.
According to Janet, her most challenging book was The Great Alone, published in 1986 by Poseidon, about seven generations of an Alaskan family from eighteenth-century Russia through American Indian cultures to modern Alaska.
In 1987, Janet signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Little, Brown and Company. Her books for Little, Brown include Heiress (1988), Rivals (1989), Masquerade (1990), Aspen Gold (1991), and Tangled Vines (1992). Her last sixteen books have been bestsellers. Tangled Vines, set in New York and California, was a Literary Guild Main Selection and a Reader's Digest Condensed Book. The audio edition of Tangled Vines was narrated by actress Adrienne Barbeau.
Janet's favorite states include Missouri, Texas, Alaska, and Kansas. Her favorite book: the one she's writing now.
Physical Description: Janet is 5'4", has a slender, athletic figure, is a brunette, and has green eyes. Most of her clothes are purchased by phone from catalogs (Nieman Marcus, Spiegel, Saks Fifth Avenue).
Hobbies: Horseback riding, gardening, painting. Although she has an abundance of talent in many fields and an avid interest in almost anything and everything, she readily admits, "I'm not much of a cook. When they were passing out cooking skills, I thought they said 'book' and went back for a second helping.''
Miscellaneous: She types on an Adler electric typewriter (does not use a computer) in her office, adjacent to her kitchen and dining room, with a view of the lake. She and Bill drink many cups of coffee each day (Folger's made on a Bunn coffeemaker). She carries a Bic pen with which she jots down reams of notes.
The Daileys take vacation trips between books, notably a safari trip to Kenya in November 1992 with country music performer Boxcar Willie and his wife, who live in Branson, and a Caribbean cruise in February 1993 aboard the Norwegian Cruise Line's m/s Seaward. Janet hosted a reception, gave a talk, and answered questions from the passengers on the Janet Dailey Appreciation Cruise.
Janet Dailey's literary agent is Richard Curtis of New York.
Goals: "To be the best I can be."
Those "Early" Years
J: I grew up in Early, Iowa, a town with more trees than people.
S: Early? That's where you got it . . . this thing about getting up at four in the morning to write.
J: There were only about 500 people. Back in the fifties, the little town still had country stores, a clothing store, a hardware store. Saturday nights were so busy, people coming into town to shop, the real Beaver Cleaver type of thing.
Growing up in a small town, I feel I have an advantage that lends to my writing today: In a small town you not only know everyone, where they work, what they do in their off time, who their parents were, who their grandparents were, their family history. You don't meet just a person who likes horses. You see the full, rounded picture of them—where they came from, who they married, what good times they've had, what hard times they've had, when they were in trouble, what they were in trouble over. You see it all, and you see that nobody is all good, and nobody is all evil.
I think you get that full sense of people, to give them all of their different dimensions, and all their many layers. Whether it's the arrogance, the cockiness that covers the insecurity, that covers the, "Well, I don't think I'll really be able to do this."
You'll see the struggle and the pulling together. You'll see that "neighbor helping neighbor" spirit that draws them together. I think you see it in a composite of the small area.
When you get into a larger city, you tend to look at them just from what you know of them. They work at this place; that's what they are.
S: You only see the one facet of their life that you observe.
J: Exactly. Without seeing why.
S: Are you saying it helps to understand and accept people because you see their frailties?
J: Yes. It helps you to draw characters. When you are creating characters, you're not just saying, "Oh . . . I'm going to create this." Once you start creating that character, you see more than just a character. You see all the things that went into molding them, so that maybe they feel different. Like the ugly duckling, they don't feel as though they belong to that family. They are a product of all these elements. You can play it any way you want, but you get a better feel for who they are, and you see the whole.
S: That's what loving people is all about, don't you think?
J: Yes, I do.
S: In a small town I suppose you grow up seeing the relationship between sowing and reaping.
J: Yes! I think that's especially true in the Midwest. And you grow up seeing the relationship to the land, seeing how much we get from our environment, how much we have to put back.
S: In your childhood, what do you feel you got from the land?
J: Oh . . . what didn't I get? All the food came from the land.
S: All of your food? You actually saw this?
|Pt. I||Janet Dailey, Up Close and Personal||1|
|Pt. II||The Writing: The Joys and the Trials||81|
|Pt. III||Women, Men, and Sex||129|
|Pt. IV||Success and Satisfaction||143|
|Pt. VI||All Those Books!||163|
|Pt. VII||The Future||181|
|Pt. IX||Publishing Record||241|