Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Author Interview: Jessie Keane

Following my crime-fiction feature week last month, my passion for this genre has been reignited so I'm delighted to be able to welcome bestselling author Jessie Keane to my blog tonight for a bit of a chat.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a crime writer?
I've been writing ever since I was a small child, won my first writing prize at age of 8, carried on writing all through adulthood, first trying chicklit, then comedy crime, and finally serious heavyweight crime like I write now. I stumbled into serious crime writing pretty much by accident, and instantly found my niche, my true writer’s ‘voice’.

Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t already know? 
I’m partially deaf

Can you tell us a little bit about ‘Ruthless’?
Ruthless is a big sprawling thrilling read, the fifth in the ‘Annie Carter’ series. It moves from New York to Ireland, the West End of London to the grit and grime of Soho and the East End. Annie Carter is a mature woman now, with a grown-up daughter. But old enemies are coming back to haunt Annie. And old loves, too…

Where do you get your ideas from for your storylines? 
My books – Ruthless included - are very ‘character-based’. You put the character in a certain time zone or situation, and they tend to just take over and do their own thing.

Percentage-wise, how much time do you spend researching and how much time do you spend writing?
I spend very little time on research before I start a book, I just get a feel for a place or situation – once the book’s written, I firm up all that, check all the details, make sure they are correct.

Are there any writers that have influenced you as a writer?
Many writers have influenced me.  I love Dick Francis, Jilly Cooper, Jackie Collins (I’m a sucker for a glam bonkbuster, and I think that shows up in my own writing) and Ed McBain. I’d like to say the classics like Dickens or Jane Austen, but that would be a lie…usually I wait for them to show up on TV. 

How hard is it to keep coming up with different/alternative ways to kill someone off?
Not hard at all. All you have to do is think yourself into your character’s mind, see how they would react, then go for it.

How do you relax/unwind after writing gruesome scenes?
I don’t do gruesome for the sake of it, but after writing anything particularly harrowing I’ll go into the garden, check the tomatoes, potter around…nature always calms me down.

Are you one of those writers who wake in the middle of the night with ideas for plots, new story etc.?
Usually it’s early morning. So I always have a notepad and pen to hand, wherever I am. You can never remember these ideas afterwards, you have to get them down on paper.

Have you ever had writer’s block?  

If you weren’t a writer, what career path would you have chosen to follow?
At school, I planned to be a dress designer as I had a flair for art. I was accepted into art college on the proviso I got 5 good O level grades – which I spectacularly failed to do. So instead I took a series of jobs – dental nurse, bacon slicer in the Co-op, administrator in an office, some secretarial as I’d taught myself to type so that I could carry on knocking out little stories… and finally found my full-time career as a writer, thank goodness.

How long did it take you to get your first book published?  
Years and years! I was writing totally the wrong thing for my ‘voice’ for a long time. Then I saw a crime DVD and thought wouldn’t it be fun, to put a woman in amongst all that and let her kick ass…

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
Yes, I write in the mornings, edit in the afternoons, have a think.

If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
I think I’ve tried it all! I greatly admire people like Philippa Gregory who write great historical dramas, and I do love an epic blockbuster. But for myself, I’m happy where I am, living a vicarious life of crime.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Learn persistence. Unless you are terrifically fortunate, you are going to suffer a lot of knockbacks and rejections as a would-be author. Grow a thick skin. Your family and friends will probably tell you at some stage that you should ‘get a proper job’ (mine did) but plod on!

Are there any crime fiction books that you wish you’d written? 
All the Ed McBain books. They’re great.

When you’ve finished writing a book, do you treat yourself to a reward?
I most certainly do! I take a fortnight of complete ‘me’ time – either a holiday or a spa break, 
something to really chill me out until I have to start thinking about the next book.

Here's a little clip of Jessie talking about how her writing started and an intro to Ruthless. 

Ruthless is due out this Thursday so why not pre-order your copy today.  Amazon links: Paperback or Kindle

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