Meet Janice Rosser

Janice OAPschat

I am happy to welcome the creator of Oapschat.co.uk – a website with a mission to help the community it serves.

Could you tell us something about yourself?

Hello Valerie and thank you so much for inviting me. My name is Janice Rosser, (please call me Jan!) I was born and bred in Hereford, where I still live fifty plus years later. I have one sister, the author Margaret James. On leaving school, I had a career in banking, followed by a few enjoyable years working as a book keeper in a local Veterinary Surgery. I took a career break to look after my two sons. I then spent twelve years working in various Pharmacies. Since 2010, I have looked after my elderly mother full time.

What inspired you to start Oapschat?

A family conversation around the dining room table one lunchtime. We realised there were not many online community pages for the people approaching the silver and golden years of their lives. So, I started a Facebook page in April 2013 and began posting and commenting on various topics to do with the over fifties age groups.

How did you visualise the concept of Oapschat initially?

I thought I would see how the FB page took off and then write a weekly blog to see if any interest was generated. It quickly became clear that people were very interested and commented and posted daily. I was mentioned in The Daily Mail and once I reached 300 plus members on FB, I decided the time was right to launch the website in November 2013.

You encourage interaction between the readers and contributors to the site. Have you found it encouraging to see the response and also the number of sponsors that support it? 

I find it extremely encouraging to read the various viewpoints and comments and to know that I am helping people engage in online conversation. I do not have sponsors as such, I have had various companies and individuals that have donated raffle prizes for me which is fantastic and I also have fifteen contributors to date who have written their own articles for the website.

Did its success surprise you, or were you aware of a need for such site for this age group? 

The website is building very nicely after launching on November 1 2013 and the Facebook page now has 408 members. I realised last year that there is a real need for this age group after the Facebook launch in April 2013.

Being a carer and developing a website are both demanding activities. What do you see as the next step forward for Janice and Oapschat? 

Caring is indeed very demanding. It can also be very tiring and isolating. Oapschat is hard work, but extremely satisfying and rewarding. I want to see it grow and develop in order to reach out and help many people who may be in a similar situation to myself. I receive many messages of support from people who are living alone and they say that it is a good way of interacting and realising you are not on your own. It is a great way to make new friends and develop my writing skills. Oapschat is my baby and I shall nurture it for many months and hopefully, years!

Thanks you for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you every success in your very worthwhile venture in reaching out to others. 

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Character, plot or pace – which one comes first?

One of the most difficult issues a new writer faces is to know where they should begin their story. Creative writing books often advise that a story, whatever its length and genre, should begin at a point where something is happening. Ideally the protagonist, your main character, is facing the essence of drama – a conflict. I agree, but what is essential is that the reader should begin to establish a relationship with that character so that they want to read on to follow them on their journey through the story, to what will hopefully be a satisfying ending.

The initial conflict provides a situation, which brings out aspects of their character that should appeal to the reader as they face their dilemma. The background to these is the place – the setting. This will help set the era, the physical aspects – the stage – against which the characters are performing on the page.

A common mistake is to open with too much explanation about their character’s life before the current situation. This means the reader may become bored before they understand who the protagonist is and become interested in them as a person who they can relate to.

Every writer will be inspired differently by people, places and plot to create that spark, which drives them to convert an initial idea into the first gripping page of a novel.

For example:-

Phoebe’s Challenge: Phoebe is a young woman who works in a mill with her younger brother, Thomas. The idea for the opening was triggered by an illustration in a children’s book written about the hardship of life in cotton mills at the turn of the nineteenth century. I then created the evil overseer Benjamin Bladderwell as the main reason why it became imperative that Phoebe escapes. I liked the idea that the plot would become more complex if a mysterious stranger helped them. Without giving any spoilers away, this then broadened the whole plot out into the world of smuggling around the bay towns of North Yorkshire, England. A time when we were  at war with France. From here Phoebe and Thomas’s adventure involves more conflict amongst the different social classes and a life and death chase with a man who they do not know if they can trust. Over the pace of the adventure another thread is layered, that of the developing romance.

From one initial idea, others spark until what is created is a tightly written romance or mystery to be enjoyed. Wherever my initial idea comes from for a story, I always aim to take my readers on an adventure which will end at an optimistic point, where the main character has overcome problems and survived.

I am always fascinated to hear how other writers work, published or not. What inspires you to write? Where have your best ideas come from?