Like her idol, the legendary Auntie Mame, Janis Susan May believes in trying a little bit of everything. She has held a variety of jobs, from actress and singer to jewelry designer, from travel agent to new home sales, from editor in chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups to supervisor of accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab.
Above all, no matter what else she was doing, Janis Susan was writing. As her parents owned an advertising agency, she grew up writing copy and doing layouts for ads. Articles in various school papers followed, as well as in national magazines as she grew older. In time novels followed, seven of them in rapid succession with such publishers as Dell, Walker and Avalon.
In December of 1980, just before the release of her second novel, Janis Susan met with approximately 50 other published romance writers in the boardroom of a savings and loan in Houston, Texas to see if an association of working, professional romance novelists were practical. The organization which evolved from that meeting was Romance Writers of America. Although the current reality of RWA is very different from what was first envisioned, Janis Susan has maintained her membership from the beginning and is very proud of being a ‘founding mother.’
But writing was far from the center of Janis Susan’s life. Single, footloose and adventurous, she believed in living life to the fullest. Although she maintained the same small apartment for years, she traveled over a great deal of the globe, living several months at a time in Mexico for years as well as trekking through Europe and the Middle East, indulging her deep and abiding love of Egyptology.
Then life took a turn. Janis Susan’s father had been dead for a good many years; when her mother’s health began to fail she realized that she would need a great deal of money to ensure her mother’s care. Although she had been supporting herself comfortably, Janis Susan made the wrenching decision to give up writing novels and its attendant financial uncertainty and get a job to provide for her mother’s needs.
Ten years passed without Janis Susan publishing a novel, though she had a few she tinkered with as a hobby. Her writing talents were directed elsewhere, though; towards Egyptology and archaeology.
Janis Susan was a member of the Organizing Committee which founded the North Texas Chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt, arguably the largest association of working Egyptologists in the world. Janis Susan began and for nine years was publisher/editor of the NT/ARCE Newsletter, which during her tenure was the only monthly publication for ARCE in the world. In 2005 Janis Susan was the closing speaker for the International Conference of ARCE in Boston.
Her Egyptological work gave Janis Susan a very special benefit of which she would never have dreamed. In the local organization there was a very handsome Naval officer a number of years younger than Janis Susan. After several years of friendship and three years of courtship, he waited until they were in the moonlit, flower-filled gardens of the Mena Hotel across the road from the floodlit pyramids in Giza to propose.
Janis Susan became a first-time bride at the time of life that most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers for the second or third time. Sadly, her mother passed away just three weeks after the small and romantic wedding, but Janis Susan is forever grateful that her mother lived to see and participate in that wonderful celebration.
It was after the first grief passed and the trauma of remodeling and moving into her childhood home that Janis Susan’s husband decided it was time for her to go back to writing full time. She fulfilled his expectations by selling her first novel in over ten years just weeks before he left for a tour of duty in Iraq.
He returned safely, and during his absence Janis Susan sold two more projects. Another deployment to Iraq followed much too quickly, then yet another to Germany before he retired from the Navy. During the German deployment Janis Susan went to visit several times, and they celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary in Paris. He continues to be a guiding and supporting force in her career, even to acting as her assistant when necessary. In a phrase quite openly stolen from a writer she much admires, Janis Susan calls her husband her own personal patron of the arts.
A talented actress for many years, Janis Susan has also narrated the audio version of several novels – not one of which is hers!
Janis Susan is very proud of being a seventh-generation Texan on one side of her family and a fourth generation one on the other. She and her husband share their Texas home with two neurotic cats which they rescued.