Jane Jesmond – Q&A

Jane Jesmond’s debut novel, On the Edge, was published by Verve Books on 26 October 2021.

She kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about On the Edge.

On The Edge is my debut novel, a thriller, and the first in a series about its risk-taking, free-climbing fanatic of a protagonist Jen Shaw. It’s been described as “a proper nerve-shredder of a tale”, beautifully atmospheric” and “a true page-turner with unexpected twists”

2. What inspired the book?

A drive home, late one windy night, past one of the lighthouses that litter the coast where I live. I stopped to watch its great beam passing overhead and the opening scene of On The Edge with Jen Shaw hanging, drugged and dreaming, from the top of a lighthouse in the middle of a storm, sprang into my mind.

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

Ha! Good question! I wrote the first draft of On The Edge without stopping and with no idea where it was going to take me. It was a real blast and I loved every minute of it. However I didn’t enjoy the endless rewrites as I tried to rescue the story from all its narrative black holes and reverse it out of the plot dead ends it had got stuck down. So since then, I’ve tried to do a little planning and interrogate my story before I start to write. But I still succumb to the sheer pleasure of racing after an idea that suddenly demands my attention. Sometimes it takes me to strange and exciting places and sometimes it deserts me at the end of a dark alley and leaves me to find my way home.

4. Was there anything about the publishing process that surprised you?

The amazing friendliness of the book community. From fellow writers and bloggers/reviewers who I’ve met on Twitter to all the bookshop and library staff and book club members who I’ve met in real life, everyone has been so supportive and enthusiastic, bound together by a love of books and reading.

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

I love walking the coastal path near where I live although I often use the time to solve plot issues or think of new ideas. I belong to our local amateur dramatics group and that takes me right away from writing – my favourite role to date has been the wicked queen in a version of Snow White that takes places some years after the original when Snow White has divorced Prince Charming and married Grumpy!

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

What a terrible prospect! It would have to be one of the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett – probably Pawn in Frankincense. Normally I’m so caught up in the story that I never have time to absorb the fascinating historical detail but if it was the only book I had, I might.

7. I like to end my Q&As 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?

I wish someone would ask me what it’s like to be an elderly debut author! My answer would be… It’s wonderful. And any other aspiring authors of my age who are out there and who, like me, still have ambitions to fulfil should go for it.

About the Book

Jen Shaw has climbed all her life: daring ascents of sheer rock faces, crumbling buildings, cranes – the riskier the better. Both her work and personal life revolved around climbing, and the adrenaline high it gave her. Until she went too far and hurt the people she cares about. So she’s given it all up now. Honestly, she has. And she’s checked herself into a rehab centre to prove it.

Yet, when Jen awakens to find herself drugged and dangling off the local lighthouse during a wild storm less than twenty-four hours after a ‘family emergency’ takes her home to Cornwall, she needs all her skill to battle her way to safety.

Has Jen fallen back into her old risky ways, or is there a more sinister explanation hidden in her hometown? Only when she has navigated her fragmented memories and faced her troubled past will she be able to piece together what happened – and trust herself to fix it.

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