Hi everyone,

I’m here today to interview author, Jane Isaac, to help celebrate the re-release of her novel An Unfamiliar Murder. If you haven’t already read this book put it on your “To Read List” - it’s a must for anyone who loves mystery fiction.

Hi Jane!

Hi Gerard.

Great to have you here. Let’s get right into the interview, shall we?

About your writing

Tell us about your most recent release.

An Unfamiliar Murder is essentially a murder mystery, an old fashioned whodunit. But it’s also the story of two women: Anna Cottrell is fighting to prove her innocence; Detective Chief Inspector Helen Lavery is trying to prove herself in the senior echelons of a competitive profession, whilst juggling the demands of parenting teenage sons.

What other novels have you written?

I have written three other novels. The Truth Will Out was the second in the DCI Helen Lavery series and published in 2014. Before It’s Too Late was published in 2015 and marks the start of a new series featuring DI Will Jackman, set in Stratford-upon-Avon. The second in the Jackman series, Beneath The Ashes, is scheduled for release Nov 2016.

What else are you working on?

I am currently working on the third in the DI Will Jackman series and enjoying writing this new book immensely. It’s early days and there’s still a lot of research still to be done – I’ll be visiting a prison and spending time in the local courts to get a feel for the legal system – but it’s shaping up nicely. And I love the research!

If you were going to commit the perfect murder, how would you go about it?

I not sure there is such a thing as the perfect murder. These days, developments in forensics have made it very difficult to escape a scene without leaving something behind tying you to the crime. But, for the purposes of this exercise, I’d make sure it was someone I didn’t know and hadn’t met before. Most people are killed by somebody close to them. The police start by tracing the victim’s background and movements, searching for a connection, a lead to the killer. With no association this would throw the investigation off course initially.

How many people have you done away with over the course of your career?

Oh, good question! At last count…about nine. Although that’s not excessive over four books, right?

About your “other” life
Do you have another job outside of writing?

Yes, I balance my writing with a part time position as a buyer for a local engineering company. Plus I have a family and a very naughty Labrador to look after too!

Describe a typical day for us.

If we’re talking a weekday, I’m usually up early, bustling my daughter off to school, then it’s off to the day job for me. I return home around 3pm and take my dog straight out for a walk across the fields so that I’m home for when my daughter finishes school to do all the mum stuff.
I usually juggle checking emails and tweeting whilst cooking dinner (with occasional disastrous results – luckily the guys are very understanding). Two or three days a week, when my daughter has gone to bed, I usually work on my current project for a couple of hours – that could be researching, editing or writing.

Would you care to share something about your home life?

My husband and I don’t watch a lot of TV, but we do love to watch crime dramas back to back. We’ve worked our way through many crime series including The Sopranos, The Wire, Dexter, The Killing, The Bridge and are now immersed in the wonderful Icelandic setting of Trapped.

What motivates or inspires you (not necessarily as regards your writing)?

I love to see creativity in all of its art forms. I have friends that draw, paint, write, sew, cook, garden. There’s so much talent around, if you only look for it.

Here are a few quick questions that will shed some light on the person behind the author persona:

1)      My best friend would tell you I’m: bubbly and friendly, unless you take away my chocolate!
2)      The one thing I cannot do without is: My Labrador, Bollo. He’s a handful, but a lovable rogue.
3)      The one thing I would change about my life: Umm. Struggling with this one. Perhaps a little more cash so that I could travel more.
4)      My biggest peeve is: Having to sleep. It really eats into my time!
5)      The person/thing I’m most satisfied with is: My family. I know, it’s a cliché, but my husband is incredibly supportive and reads everything I write. I couldn’t do this without him. And my daughter is a wonderful chef, always cooking up some tasty dish to keep me going while I’m tapping away at the keys.

Thank you, Jane. Great interview!

Thanks Gerard, I really enjoyed answering your questions!

Here’s a bonus: Jane has graciously sent us an excerpt from An Unfamiliar Murder

Chapter One

The walls were closing in on Anna. Her chest tightened.

 A loud, chilling wail rose up from beyond. She closed her eyes, pressed her palms to her ears to shut out the intermittent screams.

“Shut it!” yelled a voice in the distance.

“Can it!” growled another. “Before I make you.”

“Like to see that,” responded the first one. Raucous laughter filled the air.

Anna sat on the hard bench and shuddered, hugging her knees into her stomach, coiling her body to protect it. As the last decibels of laughter abated, her eyes focused on the graffiti scratched on to the wall beside her. Read this and weep. She stared at it for a moment then slowly, gradually, her body started to rock, forwards and backwards.

The sound of a door banging in a distant corridor reverberated around the building, breaking her abstraction. She looked around at the windowless room, the empty, off-white walls; the grey metal door; the dazzling light bulb in the middle of the ceiling that made her eyes ache; the grey flecked ‘easy clean’ flooring. A smell of bleach pervaded the air.

Anna felt a pang in her bladder as her eyes focused on the small cubicle in the corner. She quivered, wrinkled her nose. The thought of using what was inside didn’t appeal.

Footsteps and the jingle of metal brought her attention back to the door, her nemesis and barrier to the outside world. She held her breath as they halted for a second, before moving on, fading into the distance. It wasn’t her turn yet.

Anna massaged her shins gently through the navy jogging suit that hung off her tiny frame. She wriggled uncomfortably as the folds of material rubbed against the bare skin beneath, resenting being ordered to wear it, like a young child whose mother chooses their wardrobe.

Thoughts of her own mum made her shudder. She closed her eyes and imagined the scene at her parents’ home right now. This was supposed to be their special evening, their 30th wedding anniversary celebration. The invitations had been sent out weeks ago. She could see their friends arriving all smiles and congratulations, only to be turned away, only to be disappointed . . .

The camera in the far corner of the room faced her disconcertingly. Her bladder bounced in her stomach again and she scowled at the thought of them watching her, clenching her teeth in an effort to fight away the tears, cursing her tendency to cry when angry. Were they watching her body language?

Another distant noise in the corridor outside. Thud, thud, thud, at regular intervals. She clutched her stomach. She really needed the toilet. The footsteps were measured, precise and getting louder. She listened intently, trying to block out the other noises: the whir of the camera, the jangle of metal, the voices in the background, which all conspired to dull her hearing. The sound of a key being inserted into the lock followed. The door opened to reveal a man in black uniform looking slightly disheveled. His hair was in dire need of a cut, his nose flattened as if, in the distant past, it had been on the receiving end of a good, hard punch.

“Anna Cottrell?” he asked.


“Your solicitor is on the phone for you.” He held out a cordless telephone. Anna jumped off the bed, tripping over her own feet in her haste to reach it.

“Will, is that you?”

“It’s me. Are you OK?”

“No, I need help.” She failed to draw breath, speaking quickly, as if the call would be ended at any moment.

“I’m on my way. Do you need anything?” he asked gently.

“Just you to get me out of here.”

“Sit tight. I’ll be there in twenty minutes . . .”

Here’s a bit about the book and links to where you can buy it:

Arriving home from a routine day at work, Anna Cottrell has no idea that her life is about to change forever. But discovering the stabbed body of a stranger in her flat, then becoming prime suspect in a murder inquiry is only the beginning. Her persistent claims of innocence start to crumble when new evidence links her irrevocably with the victim…
Leading her first murder investigation, DCI Helen Lavery unravels a trail of deception, family secrets and betrayal. When people close to the Cottrell family start to disappear, Lavery is forced into a race against time. Can she catch the killer before he executes his ultimate victim?

Jane Isaac writes detective novels with a psychological edge. She lives with her husband and daughter in rural Northamptonshire, UK where she can often be found trudging over the fields with her Labrador, Bollo. On 1st March 2016 she re-released her first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, originally published in the US in 2012, which was nominated as best mystery in the 'eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook awards 2013. Later in the year her fourth book, Beneath the Ashes, will be published by Legend Press.  www.janeisaac.co.uk

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