The Writing Life of: Jane McParkes
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Jane McParkes, who will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her new book ‘A Deadly Inheritance‘, which will be released in October 2022, and answering a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
Jane McParkes’ first title, A Deadly Inheritance, is an eco-themed murder mystery set in a fictional Cornish creekside village and will appeal to fans of Julia Chapman, Emma Davies and L J Ross.
Jane believes she was always destined to be a crime writer. As a child she was an avid reader of the Famous Five and any other mysteries she could find at the local library. Her first commercial success came when she was 8 years old with the publication of a letter to the Bunty comic about her grandfather digging up a small handgun and two gold hoop earrings in his garden and suggesting they were connected with an unsolved murder. From that moment she wanted to be a writer. Small things like life, career, marriage, motherhood and illness got in the way, but that initial ambition never died.
After years of secret scribbling, lots of reading and one other small success in flash fiction, Jane began writing A Deadly Inheritance. A cancer diagnosis and the Covid epidemic eventually focused her mind on finishing her novel, and she enjoyed writing as a means of escape from the grim reality of what was going on in the world.
A Deadly Inheritance is the first book in a new series and combines Jane’s love of Cornwall, murder mysteries and her interest the environment, sustainability and creativity. It will be published in October 2022 by Dark Edge Press.
1) Did you enjoy writing when you were a child?
I have always loved writing. My favourite subject at primary school was creative writing. I can clearly remember making up stories and reading them out to the rest of the class. And I wrote in secret at home at a little desk in the corner of the bedroom I shared with my older sister.
2) Which author shaped your childhood?
My mum taught me to read before I started primary school and my earliest memories are of reading Enid Blyton. Once I had discovered the Famous Five and her mystery and adventure series I was hooked on mysteries. I went through the typical pony-mad stage and read all the Pullein-Thompson and Ruby Ferguson books, and then as an early teenager devoured every novel by Jean Plaidy which fed my love of history and led me to studying the subject at university. Although I mainly read crime novels now, historical fiction is still my go-to comfort read.
3) What motivated you to begin your first novel?
I first started writing just to find out what happened to the fictional characters that seemed to pop up in my head on a regular basis, so I have started and not finished many things. I just enjoyed writing about these characters with no specific plot involved and would write about them until I got bored.
4) Do you plot your book, or are you a pantser?
In the past I was definitely a pantser. Then I started learning about the craft of writing and everything I was doing, and trying to do, began to make a lot more sense. Now I’m taking my writing seriously I plot much more but still enjoy the surprise of my characters deciding for themselves what happens so I have to revise my plans.
5) What is your average writing day?
I walk my dogs for 90 minutes every morning and, on writing days, like to be at my desk by 9 a.m. I write until lunchtime and then, because of my relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis, have a two hour rest before writing more, before supper.
Sometimes I write in the evening, but not often as I am definitely a morning person. I don’t manage to write every day as I have other family commitments which makes that impossible. However I am quite good at just snatching twenty minutes here and there to write a bit more.
6) What is the best thing about being an author?
I love being able to escape into my own world and explore what my characters are up to. It also fits in with the way I have to structure my life because of my multiple sclerosis. And I thoroughly enjoy meeting up with other writers, because we ‘get’ each other.
Publisher – Dark Edge Press
Release Date – October 2022
Format – ebook
A Deadly Inheritance is a contemporary murder mystery story that puts an environmentally friendly spin on good old-fashioned crime. It is a crime novel with a conscience and includes green characters, ideas and solutions set against the backdrop of a traditional mystery.
When Olivia Wells’ godfather dies, she leaves her adopted home of New York and heads back to creekside Cornwall to fulfil his bequest, determined her visit will be a fleeting one.
The coworking community of eco and creative entrepreneurs that her godfather has established in a converted railway building initially welcomes her warmly, but she soon encounters opposition, sabotage and the murdered body of her friend.
Olivia has no option but to put her trust in an unlikely ally, set their differences aside and work together to discover who is threatening the success of her godfather’s bequest, her liberty and ultimately her life.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
I know Cornwall well, so it made sense for me to set my novels there. I am fascinated by the whole concept of creativity being linked to landscape and how Cornwall has a whole vibrant, creative community connected to the environment and sustainability. I have always been quite green and environmentally aware and I have lots of creative friends so the idea of setting up a coworking space for these sorts of people really appealed to me.
My husband is a bit of a railway nerd in his spare time and I decided to put some of the things I have learned from him over the last 28 years to use in my novel.
8) How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to writing the last word?
I dread to think. A Deadly Inheritance has had many incarnations over the years, but the main characters wouldn’t let me go without doing justice to telling their story. Being diagnosed with a rare, but curable cancer in 2018 gave me the kick up the backside I needed to finish it.
9) What made you choose the genre you write in?
I’ve always loved the mystery/crime genre. The cosy crime genre appeals to me because it offers escapism from the horrors of the real world and refuge in a feel-good world where justice is done and good always triumphs. However I also address more serious issues in my books and hope to inspire green behaviour by treating eco-centred ideas, such as the Goods Shed co-working space, as the backdrop to the crime element of the story rather than the central focus, so it becomes a normal part of the story world and can be explored in more detail in future books in the series.
10) How did you come up with the name(s) for your lead character(s)?
I only have two children, so I had lots of unused baby names. The name has to fit the characters though, so I usually check out names in newspaper birth announcements to see if they appeal. I also love reading obituaries and gravestones in old churchyards – particularly in Cornwall. Sometimes I just hear or see a name, and think that would be great for a character.
11) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Olivia is an idealist who is constantly striving to be the best version of herself and to do her bit for the environment. She has quite a bit of emotional baggage which she’s working through and is by no means perfect.
Jago is a bit of an enigma to begin with (no spoilers), but while he and Olivia are complete opposites in many ways their skills complement each other and they make an unlikely but effective investigative duo.
12) How did you feel when you had completed your book?
Relieved and bereft. In equal measures.
1) Do you have a favourite quote?
‘She stood in the wind and when the storm didn’t blow her way, she adjusted her sails.’
My family had this engraved on a silver cuff bracelet for me when I was diagnosed with cancer as I’m a great believer in adjusting my sails and have had to do so quite a few times.
2) Do you have any pets?
My walking and writing buddies – Margot and Geoffrey are Tibetan crosses – photographed on the beach
3) What are you currently reading?
I have the most enormous TBR pile and get nervous if it ever gets below about twenty books. I’m currently enjoying Emma Davies’s Adam & Eve cosy crime series. I recently heard Lisa Jewell talk at a Crime Writer’s Association event at Waterstones in Piccadilly for National Crime Reading month and plan to move some of her novels nearer to the top of my pile.
And it goes without saying that I love any book set in Cornwall.
4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?
A member of the Goods Shed – either running wild swimming events or an eco tour guide.
5) If you could travel to a fictional world from any book for the day, which would you choose?
Anything set in the court of Henry VIII.
6) There’s a penguin sitting in your chair, what’s the first thing he says to you?
‘Turn the heating down. Haven’t you heard of global warming?’
A big thank you to Jane McParkes for sharing her writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.