Janice Berliner is a licensed and board-certified genetic counselor who has more than thirty-four years of experience in the areas of prenatal, pediatric, and cancer genetic counseling, as well as higher education. She has written many lay and scholarly articles and book chapters on genetics topics and has volunteered extensively within her profession and her community. Since 2018, Janice has been the Director of the Master of Science in Genetic Counseling Program at Bay Path University. Janice’s novels, Brooke’s Promise and In Good Conscience, are derived from her expertise working with patients and their family members facing the risk of disease and the intensely personal and life-altering nature genetic illness can have on family relationships. Her third novel centers on a family with multiple psychiatric conditions and explores the stigma and hardships of hereditary psychiatric illness, as well as the hope and healing born of the family ties that bind us all.
You can buy Brooke’s Promise here.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I was inspired to write by Jodi Picoult and Lisa Genova. Both of these fabulous women authors tell gripping stories with impeccable research behind them. I wanted to do for genetic disorders what Ms. Genova has done for neurologic conditions, which is to make them accessible to the general public. My professional training and experience give me the skills to tell fictional stories with genetic themes that use family dramas to entertain and educate even those with no scientific background.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
After thinking about it for some time and playing around with online book naming websites, I decided to let the book name itself. At the end of the story, I created a fictional foundation in the name of a pivotal character. Once I came up with the title of the foundation, I realized it was the perfect book title! Moral of the story: let your story and your characters guide you, and you will win every time.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
Magical. Me—a published author. How could this be? One of my closest friends designed the artwork on the cover, and seeing her work and mine together in one hefty volume in my hand was beyond description.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
“Wonder” by Natalie Merchant
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles
“Roar” by Katy Perry
“Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
“I Lived” by OneRepublic
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
My goal is for readers to come away from my novels understanding the ways families can navigate all sorts of events, joys, illness, and dysfunction, supporting each other through anything unexpected, scary, or traumatic. No one is immune from experiencing these challenges, but with the right support, nearly anyone can triumph over them. My perfect reader is someone open-minded enough to want to learn, feel, and grow.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
I simply love that I am able to use my background and experience to educate others in ways they can grasp without studying or feeling like they’re in school. Learning should always be joyful, and therefore my work is designed to entertain, make people think, and question the status quo.
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I am about a third of the way into my third novel, as of yet untitled, which dives into the cauldron of psychiatric illness and how one family copes with multiple conditions at once. My goal is for readers to understand that 1) every family has or is at risk of having psychiatric conditions, and no one is immune, 2) there should be no stigma behind these medical conditions, and 3) what is inherited is not the illness itself, but the predisposition to it. The nature and nurture of genetics and environment can play out in myriad ways, and every family will look different.
Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.