What inspires my writing by Jane Corry – guest post

Jane Corry is the author of My Husband’s Wife and Blood Sisters. Her latest novel, The Dead Ex, was published by Penguin on 28 June 2018.

Jane has written about the inspiration behind her writing.

There’s only one thing which inspires my writing. It’s very simple but also vital. And that’s Life.

I’ve given it a capital ‘L’ because it’s fundamental to all of us. Yet for writers – at least for me – it directs my story.

The Dead Ex, for instance, was inspired by a very specific moment. I’m a native Londoner but have developed a passion for swimming in the sea (all the year round) since moving to the coast some years ago. Two years ago, I nearly drowned so now I go with an artist friend for safety. One day last year, she turned up on a flashy orange bike. ‘Is that new?’ I asked. ‘No,’ she replied. ‘It belonged to the dead ex.’

My friend’s former husband had passed away a few years earlier and my friend had been tasked with sorting out his possessions. The bike was one of them. Naturally I sympathised with her. But it also made me think. Just because you get divorced, doesn’t mean you stop caring for someone – especially if they’re the father of your children. You are tied by those bonds for ever. Yet at the same time, you might not like that person very much. So how would a heroine react if her unfaithful ex-husband went missing? And so Vicki was born.

Then I used the magic question ‘what if?’ to take that scenario one step further. What if my heroine is accused of his murder? A few years ago, I was writer in residence of a high security male prison for two days a week over three years. I now give talks to prisons and am a judge for a national prison award scheme. So I decided to give Vicki a criminal past. I also made her into an epileptic because this struck a member of my family out of the blue not long ago. I learned that one in 108 people can have a seizure at any time in their lives and that made me think….

I’ve always been interested in telling a story from two points of view with each character telling her story in alternative viewpoints. I was inspired to make my second heroine here into a child because little ones can be quite manipulative. They can also be very vulnerable. What if I had a small girl who had been taught by her drug dealer mother to lie and cheat? And that’s how Scarlet came about.

My inspiration for weaving two stories together probably came from my journalist background. Before I became a novelist, I had a long career in women’s magazines and two national newspapers. I was used to interviewing people from all kinds of different backgrounds. This prompted me to take the ‘recipe’ of having two heroines who, on the face of it, seem like chalk and cheese and don’t know each other. Then I take them to a point in the story where the reader finally finds out how they are connected.

I can’t tell you any more or I might give away the plot for my new book! But it’s only because of my swim in the sea that day, that The Dead Ex was born.

About the book


Vicki’s husband David once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her suffering with epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.

So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he’s missing, her first thought is ‘good riddance’. But then the police find evidence suggesting that David is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.

What really happened on the night of David’s disappearance?
And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself?

Read more on the Penguin website.

About the author

Jane Corry is a former magazine journalist who spent three years working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men. She had never been inside a jail before and this often hair-raising experience helped inspire her Sunday Times bestselling psychological thrillers, Blood Sisters and My Husband’s Wife.

Jane is a regular life story judge for the Koestler Awards given to prisoners for art and writing. Until recently, Jane was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University, and she now runs writing workshops in her local area of Devon and speaks at literary festivals all over the world. She has three grown up children and writes the ‘Diary of a First-Time Grandmother’ column for the Daily Telegraph.

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