Evening lovelies! Today on Meet the Author we’re hearing from the lovely Jane E James. She’s talking to us about her love of animals and being ‘normal’, chatting to Anne Boleyn and, of course, her most recent (brilliant sounding!) book, The Butcher’s Daughter.….
Jane E James
Psychological thriller and dark fiction with a dash of horror and the supernatural thrown in.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I live in the countryside in Stamford, Lincs with my all-action-super-hero hubby. He’s a postman and in the army reserves and I work on a farm so we couldn’t be any more ordinary. I am an animal lover and a vegetarian and believe that all life is precious. I cry easily, especially when I see cruelty or injustice, and I am always on a diet. People who know me are usually stunned to discover I write dark, gritty fiction. I think that’s because I am mostly giggly, jokey and outgoing. That doesn’t stop me being a loner though. I think it comes with the territory of being a writer.
What inspired you to start writing?
Even as a child, I had a vivid imagination. I fell in love with reading first, but the desire to tell a story of my own soon followed. For me, writing is a natural progression born out of a love of books and old-fashioned story telling.
How many books have you written and published?
I have had three published. The Long Weekend is self-published but my two other books, The Crying Boy and The Butcher’s Daughter are both published by Bloodhound Books.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
Gawd. Difficult one. I love them all. I’m going to say The Long Weekend (even if it is not my best work) because it proved to me that I could write a book. It was a tough experience and I learned loads from it. Getting my first bad reviews were a real wake up call. I’ve toughened up a lot since then and learnt to appreciate all constructive feedback.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
Usually, they appear in my mind as if by magic. Other times I will scroll through random lists of names to see what feels right. I rarely use names of people I know.
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
I want to say none of them as they are a strange bunch, but I think I will settle on Clayton Shaw from The Crying Boy. He’s a jolly nice chap and good at making things, so he would whip me up a little house in no time at all.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
There are so many to choose from, but I think if pushed I would choose Daphne Du Maurier. Her stories have the power to haunt me. Rebecca is my favourite. If I shut my eyes even for an instance, I can picture Manderley and hear the sea in the distance. I’ll never forget how the book started—Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
As a girl, I was obsessed with ponies, so I wrote about a girl who was a kind of horse whisperer; who could tame and ride the meanest of horses. I was a fan of all the ‘Jill’ and ‘Silver Brumby’ books and when I wasn’t riding, I usually had my nose stuck in one of them.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
I come from an editorial and marketing background, so I have worked as a reporter for my local newspaper and as a copy writer. I now work on an organic farm and love nothing more than pulling on a pair of dirty boots and showing people around.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
Backwards and into the Bronte Parsonage, where I would take tea with the sisters and have a tipple or two with Branwell. Failing that, I would have tea on the lawn at Manderley with Daphne du Maurier.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Anne Boleyn. I am fascinated by the Tudor period (also a big fan of Phillipa Gregory books) and would love to find out what really happened between her and the King.I suspect we would drink wine and have a right old gossip.
What are your favourite things to do?
Apart from reading, writing and working? I love to travel and to cook. I am also quite partial to a bit of opera. I do my best thinking and problem solving on long walks in the countryside.Many a plot hole has been solved in this way.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
When I lost my fur baby earlier this year, I imagined I could see his face in my bedroom wallpaper. It was as if my dog was trying to comfort me in my grief. His image stayed there for days before disappearing and I haven’t seen it since. Make of that what you will. I still miss him dreadfully.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Stop beating yourself up and know that you are okay.
Name one book you think everyone should read.
Jane Eyre. It is such an inspiring work and I think Charlotte Bronte is awesome. A truly admirable lady.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
My latest book, The Butcher’s Daughter, is a tense and haunting psychological thriller. I have included the blurb below.
When Natalie Powers returns home for the first time in thirteen years, she must convince everyone she has fully recovered from the mental illness, which has seen her institutionalised for most of her young life.
But instead of being welcomed back, Natalie enters a baffling world of deception. She must fight her way through the lies in order to discover the truth about her mother’s sudden disappearance sixteen years earlier. To do this, Natalie must also try to make sense of the hazy memories from the past that continue to haunt her.
In the village of Little Downey, everybody appears to harbour a mysterious secret, including her father, Frank, the village butcher, who refuses to discuss the circumstances surrounding Natalie’s mother’s disappearance, but who can Natalie trust if not her own father? Especially when it becomes clear her protector and confidante, Dr Moses, is not all he appears.
Meanwhile, a spate of unexplained clifftop suicides has seen the seaside resort go into decline. Are the villagers somehow involved or is something more sinister at work?
Determined to find out what happened to her mother, Natalie must make sure her own frailty and self-doubt does not catapult her back to the mental institution before she can uncover the truth…
You can read more about the book here:
Thank you so much Jane for this wonderful interview. It’s always great to hear from a fellow animal lover! I’m sorry that you lost your fur baby too – it’s the most heartbreaking thing and I’d like to think they were with you too. Also, loving the sound of your book – hopefully I’ll get to read it soon!
Have a wonderful evening all!