Janet O’Kane was interested in taking part in an interview for my blog. She published her debut novel, ‘No Stranger to Death’ earlier this year and I wanted to know more about it.
Tell me a bit about ‘No Stranger to Death’.
No Stranger to Death is a crime novel set in a beautiful part of the UK hardly anyone knows about: the Scottish Borders. My main character, Zoe Moreland, is a GP who has recently relocated to the Borders from an English city. For reasons which are eventually revealed, she is hoping to keep a low profile and just get on with her new life. Those hopes are dashed when she discovers a body in the remains of a Guy Fawkes bonfire and gets caught up in a murder investigation.
How long did it take you to write this novel?
I worked on it over several years, while doing various jobs and studying for an Open University degree. Once I got my degree I was able to turn to writing fulltime and finish my book. A downside of taking so long is that real life moved on in the meantime. For example, the Scottish police force has been reorganised and is now called Police Scotland.
Where did you get your ideas from?
It all started when we attended a local Guy Fawkes party and as we stood looking at the surprisingly large bonfire I said to my husband, ‘That would be a good place to put a dead body.’ ‘You’ve always said you want to write a book,’ he replied. ‘So write that.’ Of course, thinking up the opening was the easy part. Writing a book requires a succession of ideas: characters, events, settings. I can’t say where a lot of them come from, but if I get stuck I find going for a long walk with Bella, my Border collie, usually helps.
Would you like ‘No Stranger to Death’ to be made into a film or drama one day?
That’s every writer’s dream, isn’t it? People who have read No Stranger to Death have said it would make a good TV drama like Broadchurch, as it deals with how a small community can seem idyllic from the outside but actually hold some very dark secrets.
Can we expect more books from you?
I’m currently writing the sequel to No Stranger to Death, which takes place during the following summer. It opens with Zoe being called out to the body of a teenaged boy who has been thrown into the River Tweed, and will be published mid-2015. I’ve got lots of ideas for subsequent books, including a serial killer standalone and a series based around a female scuba diver.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Like many only children, I made up stories and imaginary friends from an early age, but being a writer was never on the horizon as a possible career. That said, in all the jobs I’ve done, I was the one who ended up writing letters, reports, etc. A few years ago I became a self-employed copywriter and although it paid well, I struggled to be imaginative with very dry subjects. I recognise how lucky I am to be writing fiction now.
Describe a day in your life.
Thanks to an insomniac dog, I’m usually up around 5. I wish I could claim to gainfully use the time until my husband gets up, but mainly I drink tea and watch TV crime series like The Good Wife. I try to be at my desk by 9, and the rest of the day is a continual struggle to stay focused on my writing, off the internet and out of my garden.
Not every day is the same: on Tuesday mornings I get to mix with real people when I volunteer at a local charity shop, and on Fridays I humiliate myself at a tap-dancing class. I also meet up regularly with my fellow Scribblers, a group of Borders writers. During the summer you’ll sometimes find me up a scaffold, helping my stonemason husband restore the outside of old buildings. I’ve got pretty good at repointing walls, although climbing that scaffold is challenging these days.
What types of books do you enjoy reading?
I do attempt to read genres other than crime fiction, but crime is what I always come back to. I read widely within the genre, preferring to try new writers rather than stick with a favourite few. I’m currently reading the first Game of Thrones book. Not sure if I’d enjoy it as much if I wasn’t such a big fan of the TV version, but being able to put actors’ faces to names helps me keep track of who’s who.
Readers can contact Janet O’Kane in the following ways:-
Email via Janet’s blog: www.janetokane.blogspot.co.uk
On Twitter: @JanetOkane
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/JanetOkaneAuthor
The link to Janet O’Kane’s book on Amazon.co.uk is: http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Stranger-Death-Janet-OKane-ebook/dp/B00GS1GF0E/