Happy October guys!! Sorry for the late post – I have LITERALLY just got in from work after leaving the house at 7am! Today I’m on the blog tour for After Jessica by Morgen Bailey and am delighted to bring you a Q&A….
Jessica is an ordinary girl who comes across extraordinary circumstances and pays for them with her life. As well as identifying her body, her brother Simon then has to wind up her affairs but gets more than he bargains for. Who is Alexis, and why are Veronica and Daniel searching for her? Why is there a roll of cash in Jessica’s house, and what’s the connection between his sister and Alexis?
Where did the inspiration for the storyline come from?
This was my second written book. I’d already written Hitman Samfor NaNoWrimo the previous November and enjoyed the process. The following January, I read about a woman (Moira – to whom the book is dedicated) from Ipswich, Suffolk, who had been driving to work, skidded on some black ice, clipped a van and ended up on a railway track. At the time I was living on my own so thought about, had she been me, my brother having to sort out my affairs, as Jessica’s brother Simon does. Not enough to make a story in itself necessarily so I decided to make Jessica’s life more complicated than he, or anyone else, knew.
So your first two books have male lead characters, why choose this when you’re female?
That’s a very good question. It wasn’t planned, but then I’m more of a pantser writer than plotter. Hitman Samevolved from a scene of script I wrote while doing the first year of a degree course. And I suppose I gave Jessica a brother rather than sister because it reflected my situation. I enjoyed being a man – and having grown up with an older brother as my only sibling, I’m not a girlie girl. I had beta readers of both genders for both books, and none said I’d got the men wrong – other than Sam having too-small feet (size ten) for his six-foot-four frame. William, the editor in The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listand forthcoming The Serial Dieter’s Shopping Listis the same height but I don’t recall mentioning his shoe size so I think I’ll have got away with it in that one. Being five feet ten, I do like tall men.
Do you have a favourite character from After Jessica?
Although he doesn’t feature often, I really enjoyed writing Rick, the investigator (more of a thug than the usual PI). He’s got a naughty side so it was fun to have him playing tricks. I write more crime than women’s fiction, although I read both equally, and there’s usually some element of humour (I hope!) in it.
How much research did you have to put into this book?
Unlike some authors, I’m not a fan of research but it certainly has to be done to ensure everything’s as correct as it can be, so I was checking train times, routes etc. The internet (Google, Wikipedia and the likes) is such a boon although I don’t stray too much from reality and tend to write about what I know. In The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, Izzy has to date 31 men in 31 days. I’ve not done that but have internet dated (too often!) and she’s my height with fluctuating weight – because we both love our food – so my brother calls it my autobiography!
How long does it take you to write your novels?
I never planned to be a novelist as I loved short stories so much and couldn’t envisage spending a year – as I’d heard the average being – on one story but then I discovered NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org), the yearly (November) 50,000+ words in a month project. I ‘had a go’ with a comic crime novel, Hitman Sam, which ended up being just over the minimum, although I later edited it down.
I enjoyed it so wrote After Jessica, between January and October the following year (most of it actually in the final month!). It was then late October 2009 and another NaNo was looming so I needed to come up with something to write next. I had a Word document crammed with ideas amongst which was a variety of ‘weird’ men. After two crime novels, I wanted to write something fun so created Izzy to meet this assemblage, and The Serial Dater’s Shopping Listwas born. It ended up being a 115,640-word first draft, written in twenty-eight of the thirty-one days! I’ve recently finished the follow-up, The Serial Dieter’s Shopping List, the first half of which I wrote November 2018 then the second half the following January, actually 111,530 words in 43 days (I catalogue my progresses in a nerdy Excel spreadsheet). I’m quick when I need to be. 🙂
What else do you have published?
As well as the three novels, I’ve two collections of (93 and 250) short stories, two writing workbooks with tips (each with over 1,000 prompts), an editing guide – my day job – a ‘how to write a book then how to pull it apart’ book.
I’ve recently finished The Serial Dieter’s Shopping List, featuring Izzy’s sidekick from book one, Donna, the paper’s Health and Beauty columnist, who has been seconded to the sister paper based at Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Donna’s mother lives in Tring – as does mine – so it features both towns, much to the delight of the local tourist office. That’s out with beta readers at the moment, together with two finished crime novels (a dog detective and a hit and (not) run). I’m going back to two other part-written crime novels, one about a kidnapping, the other about a slightly paranormal, not my comfort zone but I’m enjoying, and have others planned or part written (including a revenge novel!) to return to.
Thank you for inviting me today. It’s been a pleasure.
tour hosted by
Book On The Bright Side
Thanks so much to Sarah for inviting me on to the tour and for Morgen for her fab Q&A!
I hope you’ve all had a fab day and a shorter one than me!