Fear No Evil is at heart a detective story, but with some quite scary supernatural elements thrown into the mix. It features really strong female characters – which all my books do – led by private eye Jayne McCartney, a former police office. Jayne is plunged into a case that takes her way out of her comfort zone, investigating the unexplained deaths of two young students – and discovering that the world isn’t quite as straightforward as she’d always imagined.
Why did you decide to set the book in Liverpool?
I moved to Liverpool after I finished university, and have lived here ever since (which is way too long for comfort!). I met my husband here, and am raising my three children here. It’s a fascinating place – a city that really is like no other. There’s amazing history, beautiful architecture, but also a real potential for drama: seedy side streets, a hidden world, a fabulous sense of humour. It’s the perfect setting.
Please tell us about the character of Jayne McCartney.
Jayne is a single woman in her 30s, hitting that demographic where her whole family are expecting her to settle down, get married, and produce offspring – something which at the current time she has no interest in doing. She’s a former police sergeant, now turned private, and is defined by a few characteristics: an incredible work ethic, complete dedication to her clients, a sense of humour in even the darkest of situation, a fondness for alcohol and pizza, and an unquenchable sense of curiosity. She’s tough – not in a kick-boxing kind of way, more in terms of character and a general attitude of scrappiness – and she can be charming when she needs to be. She has a strong set of friends, a big Scouse Irish family, and a sense of independence that is both to her advantage and her detriment. I have a huge girl crush on her.
How much has your background in journalism helped you to have the discipline to write this book?
A lot! For starters, it gave me an intimate knowledge of Liverpool – I worked at the local paper here for 13 years, and can honestly say there is probably not a street I haven’t walked down at some point or another! It gave me some great anecdotes and characters that I’ve been able to adapt into fiction, and the discipline to just sit down and write, even if I’d rather be watching telly! It’s a vastly different style of writing, but some pointers hold true – answer the questions people want answered, don’t leave loose ends, look at it from a readers’ perspective, and don’t get upset by editing! It also helped with Jayne’s best friend Tish, who is a journalist – albeit an impossibly glamorous one!
Please tell us about drawing your inspiration from your own time working in the local media for the story.
Journalism is a strange old business. If you work in a newsroom for any length of time, you get involved in covering a vast range of stories – everything from car crashes and fires to murders and yes, even haunted houses! It’s a very rich tapestry of human existence, all being played out across the pages of your paper – you get to speak to people from all walks of life, and learn to be respectful, interested and incredibly nosy with all of them! So while I didn’t encounter any of the specific situations that Jayne finds herself in, I did gain that amazing background knowledge of life in general, and life in Liverpool in particular. Journalism can be a little like being a detective, finding the facts and putting them together.
Why is to an author’s advantage to be nosy?
It’s most definitely in a journalist’s advantage – you simply couldn’t be one unless you are nosy! My friends joke that it was the only job I could do, as I am so interested in other people’s lives! And as an author I think you also need that – a real, genuine fascination with the circumstances people find themselves in, and their reactions to them. I am one of those women who enjoys listening to old ladies’ life stories on the bus, and always asks prying questions in the pub! Most people want to talk, to share their experiences – and I ALWAYS want to know about them! I think being a private detective, like Jayne, is another job that requires those same characteristics – a drive to find out more, to understand motivations, to put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. If you’re not interested in people, how on earth could you ever write convincingly about them?
You read and write in romance, crime and fantasy- so do you have a preference between the three?
Now that is like asking me to choose between my children – also three, coincidentally! I love them all for different reasons. Fantasy allows my imagination to go completely bonkers – Dark Vision, the first book I had published, was also set in Liverpool and has a real True Blood kind of feel to it. I love the fact that the rules of real life don’t apply, which frees you up to do some fanastical things, like have your heroine fly away from a raging battle on the back of a newly animated Liver Bird! The romances I enjoy for the same reasons many women enjoy reading them – pure escapism, and the chance to enjoy the cathartic effect of going through heartbreak with a character you can identify with, knowing that you are likely to get the happy ending you might not find in real life – with some steamy sex along the way! Crime is the genre I probably read most myself – I love my lady sleuths like VI Warshawski and Kinsey Millhone; I love the drama and the subtlety of a good detective thriller. And Jayne McCartney is, I’d have to say, my favourite character out of all that I’ve created – she lives in the real world, but she is just so ballsy and engaging. I’d love to go to the pub with her!
What is next for you?
More writing! I have the follow up to Dark Vision coming out in Spring, called Dark Touch, and another romance as well. Hopefully other people will like Jayne McCartney as much as I do and I’ll get to write a follow up. And in between all that, I also work as a copywriter and PR, and fit it all in between school runs – chaotic but fun!