Janice Deal found her muse almost by chance.
She discovered her love of fiction writing in the 1990s, when she was living and working in Chicago as a magazine editor. On a lark, she signed up for a fiction-writing class at Northwestern University, taught by Fred Shafer. That experience was transformative, sparking within her a love of storytelling. After the class ended, Fred invited her to join a short story workshop he led. Fiction writing became a constant source of creative fulfillment and personal growth as Janice navigated changes in her life, whether she was going back to school to earn a degree in library science or embarking on a career as a full-time reference librarian. She always kept on writing.
In 2000, Janice received an Illinois Arts Council grant for fiction. With the grant, she and her husband, David, traveled to Paris. The rich artistic life in Paris underlined how place can be a muse. And then a year later, Janice became a mom. The emotionally complex journey of motherhood acted as yet another muse to inspire her to write more. In her writing, Janice explores themes of loss, identity, and the profound truths that exist in the seemingly quiet lives led by “everyday people.” She says, “Many of the characters I have created are shaped by loss, an unavoidable facet of life experience: live long enough and everyone experiences loss of some kind. That universality of loss—its egalitarian nature—has proven to be a rich vein for my creative work.” Janice hopes the stories she tells might resonate in the way blues music can: her characters have done some living, and their stories emerge from humble experience—and sometimes pain.
Janice’s short stories have won the Cagibi Macaron Prize for fiction. They have appeared in the anthology New Stories from the Midwest, and in literary magazines such as Catamaran Literary Reader, Emrys Journal, Harvard Review Online, the Ontario Review, Potomac Review, The Sun, Valparaiso Fiction Review, and Zone 3. One of her stories, “String Theory and Other Animals,” will be published in Fiction in 2021. Her first story collection, The Decline of Pigeons, was a finalist in the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and was published by Queen’s Ferry Press.
Janice lives in the Chicago area, where she and her husband hike, explore Midwestern towns, and follow the adventures of their child, Marion, who is a poet and student of the world. Janice’s debut novel, The Sound of Rabbits, placed as a finalist for both the Many Voices Project annual competition and the Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize. It received an Honorable Mention in the 2021 Landmark Prize for Fiction. Janice is thrilled that The Sound of Rabbits has found its home at Regal House Publishing.