Having read and enjoyed Life’s A Drag by Janie Millman, my review of which you can read here, I was delighted to be asked by Emily Glenister to be part of the launch celebrations for Sky’s the Limit, Janie’s new book. I’m sharing my review of Sky’s the Limit today but even better from my point of view, I get the chance to ask Janie all about the book too.
Published yesterday, 2nd August 2018 by The Dome Press, Sky’s the Limit is available for purchase here.
Sky’s the Limit
Sky is devastated when she finds that her husband is in love with someone else, even more that it is her oldest friend Nick. She has lost the two most important men in her life and can’t ever trust either of them again. To escape, she goes alone on a dream trip to Marrakesh and meets Gail, on a mission to meet the father of her child, a man she loved but thought did not want her.
In Marrakesh, Sky and Gail both find unexpected joys – and surprises. For Sky these lead to France, to a beautiful chateau and a family whose relationships seem as complicated as her own.
An Interview With Janie Millman
Thanks so much for agreeing to answer my questions about Sky’s the Limit Janie. Firstly, Sky’s the Limit feels slightly different in style to Life’s A Drag. What would you say to that assessment?
To be honest I hadn’t give much thought to the difference in style before!
I guess the main difference is that Sky’s The Limit is written in the first person whereas Life’s A Drag is in the third. In Sky’s the Limit, it is clear who the main protagonist is whereas there are several in Life’s A Drag.
Most of the action in Life’s A Drag happens simultaneously between Suffolk and San Francisco whereas in Sky’s The Limit the action flows from Marrakech to South West France with Sky leading the way so to speak. Perhaps Life’s a Drag is a bit zanier given the subject matter whilst Sky’s The Limit has more magic and romance.
I think that’s a really good assessment of both books! So, why did you choose to focus on Sky through the first person perspective rather than one of the other characters?
Well the short answer is because my agent told me to!
That is true but obviously there is a bit more to it than that. I actually first wrote Sky’s the Limit in the third person. My agent – David Headley – felt that there was something not quite right with it. He suggested that I write it from Sky’s point of view. I have to admit I was skeptical at first – not least because it meant a huge amount of extra work but I decided to give it a go and – damn him – he was absolutely right.
That’s the thing about agents Janie – they usually know what they are talking about!
The book suddenly came alive in a way that it hadn’t been before. I used to be an actress and I loved “becoming” Sky. I loved getting into her head, getting to know her in a way that I hadn’t the first time of writing.
You create a super sense of place through your use of the senses. When you’re developing setting, how aware are you of appealing to all the readers’ senses?
The location and settings are as important to me as the characters. I adore exploring new places and I am keen that my readers explore with me. I love tasting the local food and drink, wandering around the markets, chatting to the locals – to me this is how you get to know a place. I want to be the eyes, ears and nose of my reader so that they can imagine they are there.
And you do it brilliantly. I was transported along with the characters.
Sky’s the Limit had two very different settings in France and Morocco. Which one would you most like to inhabit and why?
Now this is a really easy question as we do actually live in South West France! In fact Chateau Fontaine from Sky’s The Limit is about ten minutes away although obviously it is not called Chateau Fontaine in real life.
Now you’re just making me jealous…
We moved here nine years ago on a complete whim. We had no more idea of moving to France than moving to the moon.We saw a picture of the back of our house in a discarded newspaper on a train we were not supposed to be on! We phoned up the estate agents, came to view it the following week and three months later we were the owners of a large eighteenth century townhouse which needed a huge amount of renovation. We were actors and our DIY skills consisted of a couple of B&Q commercials – but somehow we got it done and in 2010 Chez Castillon was born.
How romantic and exciting. That’s quite an unconventional way to buy a home. Speaking of which, you always seem to incorporate quite unconventional characters as well as those a reader might expect. Why is this?
I’ve always been drawn to odd, quirky, characters – just look at my husband!
No seriously, those folk that look like they have a real story to tell always appeal to me. I love to hear about people’s lives and the more unconventional the better. I also adore people watching and the Monday morning market here is the ideal place.
Having said that I don’t deliberately set out to include unorthodox characters, they just seem to worm their way in!
I know you run painting as well as writing courses at Chez Castillon, and Sky is a talented painter in the book. How important is art to you as a writer?
I love art and I so wish that I could paint but as I can’t, I do the next best thing, which is to write about someone who can.
Art plays a very important role in my life, our walls are covered with paintings. Some we inherited with the house, some cheap buys from various brocantes, some done by mates, some by our students and some by our tutors. They all mean something to me; they all have a special place, much like the books in our library.
You’ve set two of your books that I have read (and so enjoyed) in Suffolk and San Francisco; Morocco and France. Where are you taking your readers next?
The next book is set in Cambridge and Greece.
Cambridge isn’t a million miles from me…
Greece is one of my all time favourite places. Over the years I have visited over twenty Greek islands and I have loved every single one. We went to Crete last year as research – we stayed in an old film director’s house overlooking the sea. I won’t give anything else away!
I shall look forward to reading all about Greece then Janie!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Sky’s the Limit?
I loved writing it, I loved getting to know my characters, I loved weaving all the different stories together.
I hugely enjoyed revisiting Marrakech and I adored writing about this corner of South West France that I now call home. A place I have come to love and I hope through Sky’s The Limit my readers will too.
Oh they will Janie – and speaking of which, here’s my review of Sky’s the Limit:
My Review of Sky’s the Limit
Sky thinks she has everything with a wonderful husband and brilliant best friend. Appearances may not be what they seem.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sky’s the Limit by Janie Millman. It felt such an assured and confident book that I was able to immerse myself into it immediately and I think Janie Millman’s writing has become so accomplished.
I was instantly transported to Marrakesh and France. I thought the descriptions were wonderful and the settings so vivid it was like looking at a film or photographs of the places described. There’s a real appeal to the senses although if you’re on a diet I’d recommend skipping the parts when Nick is cooking otherwise you’ll be tortured! Seriously, there are colours of the souks and markets and aromas of spices, sounds of water and chatter, tastes of wonderful food and the touch of fabric or sunburn for example that weave a true picture of Morocco and France. I think reading Sky’s the Limit could be the next best thing to travel if you’re not able to go away!
I love the way Janie Millman has an eclectic range of characters, nationalities, sexualities and so-called normalities and blends them together into a lovely escapist read with romance, self-discovery and travel entwined. I really do think Sky’s the Limit is the perfect summer read because each character brings a very important element to the narrative so that the reader wants to go on their journey with them.
What works so well is the underlying principle that we all need love and the ability to trust in whatever form that takes. It may be romantic or family love or an ardent passion for an activity like wine making, or for an area but Janie Millman explores each approach so sensitively that it’s impossible not to get caught up in the different aspects.
I finished reading Sky’s the Limit with a satisfied sigh. I had been wonderfully entertained by the story and relationships. I had been taken on a vivid and realistic journey to France and Morocco where I had fallen in love with the places and people in the story. Sky’s the Limit is perfect for transporting yourself away from ordinary life and I really enjoyed it.
About Janie Millman
Janie Millman is an actress, writer and co-owner of Chez Castillon.
She met Mickey, her husband, playing romantic leads in a summer season of comedies at The Little Theatre, Sheringham, on the Norfolk coast. Both actors for more than twenty years, their roles have ranged from Ninja turtles to acting in Olivier Award-winning stage productions and working on screen with Hollywood stars.
Although still acting, Janie is now concentrating on writing. Life’s A Drag was her debut novel.
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