It’s a beautiful Hawaiian morning, and it’s Monday. As you know, Mondays are murder. Today I’m talking with Jane Isaac, British author of An Unfamiliar Murder.
Laurie: Good morning, Jane. It’s so good to have you with me, virtually, all the way from the other side of the world. Your debut novel, An Unfamiliar Murder was released last month. Please tell use a little about it.
Jane: Although a murder mystery, An Unfamiliar Murder is essentially the story of two women:
Anna comes home from work to find the dead body of a stranger in her flat, becomes the main suspect in a murder enquiry and, just as she believes she has convinced police of her innocence, new evidence comes to light that links her directly to the victim – evidence that changes her life irrevocably.
DCI Helen Lavery manages her first murder enquiry whilst juggling the responsibilities of single parenting teenage sons. She is trying to make her mark amongst the senior echelons in the police force; an organization dominated by strong personalities, and faces many obstacles along the way. The case initially seems straightforward but, as people close to Anna start to disappear, it increasingly becomes complex, plunging her into a race against time – can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?
Laurie: For my American friends, DCI is Detective Chief Inspector. What makes Helen unique? What makes her stand out from all the other protagonists in similar positions?
Jane: Helen is passionate about leading a murder investigation, catching the bad guy, and making a real difference to public safety in the town of Hampton.
She isn’t an alcoholic, divorcee, who lives on her own – this has all been done brilliantly over the years by other authors. Helen is a regular person, like you or I, so we feel her journey, and quite representative of modern day policing in this respect. What gives her the edge is that she has little interest in the statistics, politics and resourcing issues that dominate the senior ranks – she raced through the ranks to follow in her late father’s footsteps into this ‘hands on’ role. Leading the murder squad is her ultimate ambition, forcing her to occasionally adopt unorthodox methods in pursuit of the killer.
Laurie: Your book opens in the point of view of Anna Cottrell, and some reviews have described her as the heroine of the story. Do you have two protagonists?
Jane: Absolutely! An avid reader of crime fiction for many years, I decided right from the beginning that I wanted to tell the story through two points of view: the police investigation through the eyes of Helen; and the other part of the story through Anna’s eyes. Switching perspective allows the opportunity to layer the story and adds to the excitement and ‘page turning’ element. Both women face their own challenges and crises as the story unfolds.
Laurie: Tell us something about Anna—her personality, what makes her respond to the situation the way she does?
Jane: Anna is a strong, independent woman that has never felt like she fitted in. She has always known that something in her life was awry, but was never able to put her finger on it; until now. The revelations in An Unfamiliar Murder highlight this angst and force her to deal with its consequences.
Laurie: Did you imbue either of your main characters with a lot of your own personality?
Jane: My main characters are made up of fragments of lots of different people, along with a little of my own imagination. There may be elements of me in there, but they are well hidden 😉
I admire them both immensely and am very fond of them too. It’s difficult to let go of characters that have lived with you for years, kind of like losing an old friend, LOL.
Laurie: I understand you are writing a sequel, and possibly a series. Will your future novels follow the career or Helen Lavery?
Jane: Both. I think that intertwining Helen’s personal and professional life makes her much more rounded and interesting. That way we get to enjoy a good murder mystery with all the twists and turns it demands, alongside the reality of juggling a personal life – something that we can all relate to.
And there are some very interesting revelations in Helen’s personal life in book two!
Laurie: That sounds very exciting. I can’t wait to read it. Do you have a title yet for your next book? When can we look forward to seeing it?
Jane: The title of my second book has changed many times and is proving a tricky customer! It should be finished by the summer and, hopefully, will be released by the end of the year. But the title remains a mystery, LOL 🙂
Laurie: Ah, another mystery. Then we’ll have to just wait and see.
You are a wife, mother, career woman, and dog owner, as well as a novelist. How do you manage to keep so many balls in the air and still find time to write?
Jane: Good question! Like many new writers, I don’t have the luxury of writing full time and it is difficult finding time to fit everything in. I try to be as organized as possible and devote at least two mornings a week to novel writing, but can often be found penning lines beside the pool whilst my daughter has swim class, jotting down notes in a supermarket queue, or churning ideas over in my mind whilst I trudge over the fields with the dog. My characters are never far from my mind.
Laurie: Spoken like a true writer. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Jane: I’ve been very fortunate in having two short stories entitled ‘Duplicity’ and ‘Perilous Truths’ accepted for crime anthologies, due to be released this year by UK based, Bridge House Publishing, and US based, Rainstorm Press.
Visit Jane Isaac’s website: www.janeisaac.co.uk
Check out her multi-faceted blog at http://www.janeisaac.co.uk/blog/ where she covers a number of topics including:
- A Writer’s Life
- Book Reviews
- Diary of a Newbie Novelist
- General Lifestyle
- Guest Posts
- Writing History