Q&A INTERVIEW WITH JANE ISAAC
Today I am delighted that Jane Isaac author of The DI Will Jackman series, with Beneath the Ashes being the latest in the series.
Has dropped my blog to take part in my Q&A interview…...so without further ado I would like to welcome the one and only Jane Isaac
Morning thank you for joining me today. Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
Hi shell! Thanks for inviting me to your lovely blog. I was born in London and moved around a bit as a child, eventually settling in rural Northamptonshire where I now live with my husband and daughter. I can often be found trudging over the fields with my dog, Bollo, mulling over new storylines and characters in my mind.
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? And how did you go about it?
I didn’t always want to be a writer. The turning point for me came sixteen years ago when my husband and I took a year out to travel the world and a friend gave us a diary to keep. I didn’t think we’d keep it up, but we both wrote an entry every day and returned home at the end of the trip with a collection of diaries. Years later, the photos brought back memories, but it was the diaries that recreated the true sense of the places we visited. That’s when my love affair with writing began.
Some years later I signed up for a creative writing course and enjoyed writing non-fiction articles for newspapers and magazines. When I started the fiction side of the course I was bowled over by how much I enjoyed it. I wrote a few short stories and eventually decided to write a novel. My first book, An Unfamiliar Murder, took eighteen months to complete.
Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
I write the DCI Helen Lavery and the DI Will Jackman series, and my novels have been described as detective fiction with a psychological edge.
My fascination lies with people and how they react when you take them out of the realms of normality, so I tend to start with my characters. When I begin a new project I usually consider the opening – putting somebody normal, somebody like you or I, in an extraordinary situation. As the mystery unravels and we begin the police chase to solve the case and track down the killer, we also explore the perspective from the victim’s point of view, or somebody close to them.
I guess I write for people like me, who love fast paced mysteries with believable characters, and twists and turns aplenty.
What is your writing process? And how long does it take?
When I started out I didn’t plan anything and wrote chapter by chapter, researching along the way. My first book, An Unfamiliar Murder, took almost eighteen months to complete.
My most recent release, Beneath the Ashes, was my fourth book and written to a deadline, so I needed to be more organised with my writing time. I wrote a four/five page outline in advance to give me a sense of direction, although inevitably some things did change along the way, and the book took a little under a year to complete.
Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
I think my characters are made up of elements of lots of different people. I’ve always been a great people watcher and love to pick up little traits: the man in the cafe with the six o’clock shadow, the perfectly manicured mum at the school gates; the child with the tuft of hair that sticks up around his crown.
For DI Will Jackman, the lead in my current series, I pulled on my favourite male fictional characters and analysed their behaviour; writing down the elements I liked and that fitted with what I was trying to achieve, disregarding the ones that didn’t. I also considered the male influences in my own life: my father, my brother, my husband, my friends, and spoke to a lot of serving police officers and detectives to see what their working/home life was like.
Have you written about a personal experience in your novels?
No huge personal themes, however I think, as novelists, we take our inspiration from around us and there are often small elements of our personal lives that find their way into our books. I enjoyed relaying my experience of the Scottish Highlands, a beautiful place I have visited many times, as a setting in my second book, The Truth Will Out.
What research do you do?
Research is one of my favourite aspects of writing novels and one I probably spend far too much time doing! It might only be for a paragraph, or even a single sentence, but it is interesting where it can lead.
For Beneath the Ashes, I spent time with senior officers in Northants Fire Service who explained how different building structures, accelerants, and even the weather affect the damage that fires do. The reality of fire damage wasn’t what I’d imagined at all!
Aside from all the books about serial killers and psychopaths – the real case studies that keep me awake at night and haunt my dreams – I also spend a lot of time on the police procedural research. For Before It’s Too Late I met up with a former Detective Superintendent, who managed murder squads all over the UK during his 30 year career, for some in-depth research into some of the cases he has managed. Boy, did he have some tales to tell...
Who would you like to co-write with and why?
I’ve always admired writing duos like Nicci French, but never really thought of co-writing myself, although it must be wonderful to have somebody to bounce ideas off.
What's your favorite book?
The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
What's your favorite food?
Unlike me, my teenage daughter has grown up with a keen interest in cookery which has encouraged our family to become real foodies. Currently, I love beef carpaccio and a good old vanilla custard slice.
What's your favorite film?
What's your favorite song?
The Pearl Fishes by Bizet
How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
I love to hear from readers and writers and can be contacted via Jane Isaac Author on Facebook, @JaneIsaacAuthor on Twitter, or emailed through the contact page on my website at www.janeisaac.co.uk where there is more information on my books.