Welcome to our December First Friday Breakfast with author Jane Isaac. Almost fourteen years ago, Jane Isaac took a year out to travel the world with her husband and kept a daily diary recording her experience. On their return, the copious photos they took drew on memories, but it was reading the diary that transported Jane back to smell the spices in Kuala Lumpur, to hear the of street music of Bangkok, feel the thick heat that pervades the wonderfully clean Singapore, see the red earth of Australia. Realising the power of words, it was this diary that prompted her to study creative writing, first at The Writers Bureau and later with the London School of Journalism. She now lives in rural Northamptonshire, UK with her husband, daughter and dog, Bollo, where she writes psychological crime thrillers in her marginal time.
Jane was runner up ‘Writer of the Year 2013’ with The Writers Bureau and her short stories have appeared in several crime fiction anthologies. An Unfamiliar Murder is her first novel and was nominated as best mystery in the ‘eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards’. The Truth Will Out, the long awaited sequel, will be released by Legend Press on 1st April 2014. The paperback version is available to pre-order now.
This morning I’m enjoying a Mediterranean Fritatta (eggs, sautéed with zucchini, green onion, tomato and fresh herbs), herb roasted potatoes, arugula and spinach salad with a Autumn brown turkey fig from my garden, blueberries, banana, olive oil and pecans, and Jasmine green tea. What are you having for your virtual breakfast, Jane?
I like to mix the healthy with the harmful. At this moment, I’m tucking into a buttery croissant with a side order of watermelon.
Love it! Tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.
I’m fascinated by how people react when they are taken out of the realms of normality. I love the idea of putting ordinary people in extraordinary situations and watching the story unfold as I write. On this basis, I usually have an idea for an opening and pen a few lines which will eventually become an opening chapter. For An Unfamiliar Murder, it was the concept of a normal person, somebody who could be you or I, coming home from work to find the body of a stranger in her flat. A broad outline then follows where I consider what themes and areas I want to cover, what characters will be involved and an idea of what research is required. I’m not a methodical person. I write in scenes and record whatever is in my head at the time which occasionally means jumping ahead to different parts of the novel and slotting them back in later. I’m about half way through writing my current book and have already drafted the denouement chapter.
Tell us about An Unfamiliar Murder. What inspired those engaging main characters and the riveting storyline?
When I started writing psychological thrillers I quickly decided that I wanted to weave the machinations of a police procedural in with the viewpoint of a victim to create suspenseful page turning storylines with an original twist – something I’d like to read myself. Whilst An Unfamiliar Murder is essentially a murder mystery, it’s also the story of two women, one fighting to prove her innocence, the other trying to prove herself in the senior echelons of a competitive profession, whilst juggling the demands of parenting teenage sons. Let me share my blurb with you:
“Is this what it feels like to be buried alive?”
Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder enquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim…
Leading her first murder enquiry, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When Anna’s boyfriend is kidnapped and Anna herself disappears, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?
I’m firing up the kettle for more tea. What did you find fun about writing this book and what was difficult?
In the early stages much time is devoted to checking investigative methods and police procedures which I really enjoy. I also invest a lot in my drawing up my characters. I try to make my characters real, so that readers resonate with them and feel their journey. For An Unfamiliar Murder I interviewed police officers at many different levels of the UK police force to establish a believable DCI that we can all relate to. For DCI Helen Lavery, I wanted to avoid the tired, divorced, alcoholic detective. This role had been delivered many times and very brilliantly by numerous authors. Helen is ambitious, but not in the sense of chasing recognition that comes with rank. Her motivation is to make a difference to society, to follow in her father’s footsteps by managing the homicide and major crime team and putting the really bad guys away. For this reason, occasionally she adopts unorthodox methods in order to achieve her aim. Anna Cottrell’s character is based on one of my daughter’s former teachers, who provided lots of background about teaching: what enticed her into the profession, how it affects her life, how she feels about it, what the hours are like, and some helpful anecdotes from the classroom. The main problem was that I became very close to my leading ladies. I have great admiration for both of them and leaving Anna behind at the end of the novel felt like losing a friend.
Tell us about your next project(s) and when the next one may be published.
I’m currently gearing up to share the sequel to An Unfamiliar Murder, The Truth Will Out, which will be released by Legend Press on 1st April 2014. This novel also features DCI Helen Lavery and we see her face her toughest case yet. Here’s the blurb:
“Everything’s going to be okay.”
“What if it’s not?”
Suddenly, she turned. For a split second she halted, her head inclined.
“Naomi, what is it?”
She whisked back to face Eva. “There’s somebody in the house…”
Eva is horrified when she witnesses an attack on her best friend. She calls an ambulance and forces herself to flee Hampton, fearing for her own safety. DCI Helen Lavery leads the investigation into the murder. With no leads, no further witnesses and no sign of forced entry, the murder enquiry begins.
Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle start to come together. But as Helen inches towards solving the case, her past becomes caught up in her present.
Someone is after them both. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what they want. And as the net starts to close around them, can Helen escape her own demons as well as helping Eva to escape hers?
My latest work in progress is a thriller based in nearby Stratford Upon Avon. I’m presently undertaking lots of research field visits which I am enjoying immensely!
Wow–the blurb gave me goosebumps! I look forward to the thriller too–you had me with Stratford. Thank you for sharing your breakfast and writing life, Jane. Congratulations on your publications, and I’m looking forward to reading The Truth Will Out.
Check out her website at http://www.janeisaac.co.uk for her latest publications. Follow her on Twitter: @JaneIsaacAuthor and FaceBook: Jane Isaac Author.
Before you blast off to Amazon to buy Jane’s An Unfamiliar Murder, who would like to join us in a cuppa of her favorite English breakfast tea?