- Special Sections
- Public Notices
She starts with an idea that sparks her imagination.
Years later, those ideas have wound themselves into several novels, one having ended up on several best-seller lists.
Campbellsville native Janna McMahan, who has published four novels, came back to her hometown last week to speak at the Taylor County Public Library.
McMahan, who now lives in South Carolina, spoke about her books, writing process and background, and where her ideas come from.
About 65 people attended. McMahan is the first author to speak at the newly renovated library.
McMahan, whose first job was at a library, said they are a great resource for a community. She said she relies on libraries heavily for research.
McMahan said she begins the writing process with an idea, whether it's thinking about a specific person or a career that interests her.
McMahan self-published her first book, "Undertow."
Since then, she worked with an agent and Kensington and Koehler Books publishing companies to release three novels, "Coming Home," "The Ocean Inside" and "Anonymity," which was released in January.
McMahan's first novella, "Decorations," was part of the anthology "Snow Angels" by Fern Michaels. The anthology made the New York Times, USA Today and Publisher's Weekly best-seller lists.
McMahan said her idea for the story in "Anonymity" began many years ago when she was visiting family in Austin, Texas.
She said she saw a line of "scruffy looking" teenagers and wondered what they were doing. After realizing they weren't waiting to attend a concert, McMahan found out they were in a soup kitchen line.
In the line, McMahan said, was a 15- or 16-year-old girl who had tattooed her entire face. She said she worried and wondered about the girl.
After seeing the girl, McMahan became interested in youth homelessness and started researching it. After learning about the issue, McMahan's story began to develop, and she started writing.
McMahan said she, at first, had trouble selling the book to a publisher because it takes on a serious issue. She said she was told people today want escapism, often found in romances, instead of an in-depth look at a serious issue.
"I think there's room for socially relevant material in society," she said.
And even though she was having trouble getting the book published, McMahan said, it became a labor of love.
"I was really moved by the topic," she said.
McMahan said her next book will focus more toward romance, centering on a love triangle involving a chef and a botanist.
McMahan said her favorite part about being an author is having people say they enjoyed her book and can't wait to read the next.
"That's how I know I connected with them," she said. "If I can entertain you, I'm happy."
For more information about McMahan, visit www.jannamcmahan.com.