Jane Isaac – Q&A

Today I’m pleased to welcome Jane Isaac to the blog. Jane is the author of The Truth Will Out, Before It’s Too Late and An Unfamiliar Lie and her latest novel, Beneath the Ashes, was published by Legend Press on 1 November 2016

Jane kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Beneath the Ashes

Beneath the Ashes is a story about secrets. You think you know someone, but do you ever truly know them? 

Nancy wakes up in a bloodied state on the kitchen floor of the farmhouse where her boyfriend, Evan, is living. The glass is broken in the back door indicating a possible break in, and her boyfriend is missing. Meanwhile, the nearby barn has been burnt out in a fire. But as DI Jackman starts to unravel the case, he soon discovers that nothing is quite as it seems.

2. What inspired the book?  

Ooh, it’s difficult to answer this question without giving the plot twists away. Suffice to say, I like the idea of putting ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and watching how they react. The book opens and closes with a fire, and it was an interesting area to research because fires don’t necessarily cause the damage that we would normally expect. 

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you? How long does the process take you from first line to completed novel? 

When I first started out I didn’t plan anything and wrote chapter by chapter. My first book, An Unfamiliar Murder, took almost eighteen months to complete. 

Beneath the Ashes was my fourth book and written to a deadline, so I needed to be more organised with my writing time. I wrote a four/five page outline in advance to give me a sense of direction, although inevitably some things did change along the way. I managed to complete the novel within a year.

4. Beneath the Ashes is the second book to feature DI Will Jackman. You also wrote An Unfamiliar Murder featuring DCI Helen Lavery who will return in later books. What do you think are the perks and downsides to writing a recurring character? Do they characters ever surprise you?

The progression of a series means that I don’t have to spend weeks, sometimes months, layering and building a character so that they become real on the page. This is a huge bonus and it’s lovely watching the characters develop with each book.

I haven’t really faced a disadvantage yet, but I do feel that we need to see some advancement in the character with each book to keep them fresh and interesting. And, yes, they do surprise me at times!

5. What did you discover about the process of creating a novel that surprised you?

When I started my first novel I felt a little bit like Angela Lansbury in Murder, She Wrote, typing away at my keyboard, immersed in my stories. What surprised me was the reality of the job of an author which is actually quite different. I need to find time for social media (which I love, but it can be a huge distraction!), arranging events, giving talks, and of course the research. I find I have to be quite disciplined to allow myself time to write these days. 

6. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all? 

Since I still have a day job and a family to look after, spare time is quite rare. I enjoy trudging over the fields where I live in rural Northamptonshire, UK with my Labrador, Bollo. I also love indulging my other passion of travel and am always daydreaming about what country or city I can visit next. Needless to say, my bucket list is endless!

7. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be? 

That’s a toughie. The Talented Mr Ripley is my all time favourite crime novel, but even I would get bored reading it over and over. If I were to go on a desert island I would probably take a dictionary. Flicking through the different words and meanings would eventually conjure up new stories in my head. 

8. I like to end my Q&A’s with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Q, Since you prefer to visit the locations of your novels, where would you like to set your next book?

A. I have a long list of possibilities, but we could start with the Maldives.


About the book:


“The floor felt hard beneath her face. Nancy opened her eyes. Blinked several times. A pain seared through her head. She could feel fluid. No. She was lying in fluid.

When a body is discovered in a burnt-out barn in the Warwickshire countryside, DI Will Jackman is called to investigate.

Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.

Can he discover the truth behind the body in the fire, and track down the killer before Nancy becomes the next victim?”


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