Jane McParkes is the author of A Deadly Inheritance, published on 30 November 2022.
Jane kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about A Deadly Inheritance.
It is the first in a new cosy crime series with a ‘green’ twist, and full of green characters, ideas and positive solutions set against the backdrop of a traditional murder mystery.
In A Deadly Inheritance the heroine, Olivia Wells who is an eco-architect, returns from New York to creekside Cornwall to fulfil an important bequest to build and run a co-working community of eco and creative entrepreneurs in a converted railway building. While everything starts off well, and she enjoys working alongside all sorts of creative and sustainability advocates as well as getting used to being back in her old village, things soon take a sinister turn and she finds the murdered body of her friend. The police’s investigations are hampered by the tight-lipped, close-knit Cornish community, and when it seems that all their evidence points to Olivia, she has to put her trust in the least likely ally and work together to prove her own innocence, and find out who the real murderer, before they strike again, and again.
2. What inspired the book?
I’ve always enjoyed reading crime novels and particularly cosy crime in more recent years. Cosy crime has been described as ‘a comfort read that leaves you satisfied with the world rather than too afraid to go to sleep’ and more recently it has become a good medium through which to explore more serious themes. I’ve always been quite ‘green’ and environmentally aware so I decided to tweak the genre a little to make it more ‘eco-friendly’ without being preachy. Research has shown that people respond much more positively to solution-focused stories with positive role models, than to doom-laden and catastrophic dystopian-type novels.
It’s fun to smuggle in green information within the plot and hopefully make readers aware of potential solutions rather than problems.
Cornwall is my favourite place on earth, and as it is a place where landscape is intrinsically liked to creativity and so many people are committed to sustainability it made sense to set my novels there.
3. Do you plan before you start writing or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
In the past I was definitely a pantser. Then I started learning about the craft of writing and everything I was doing, and trying to do, began to make a lot more sense. I like the way crime novels have a tighter structure which prevent you becoming too longwinded and lyrical, and you have to plot much more. But even with a skeleton of plot points and trying to guide my characters along the way, they still have a habit of surprising me and making me revise my plans.
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
Everything. I deliberately chose to publish with a small independent press. And there are definitely pros and cons. The main thing I’ve learned is that getting your manuscript accepted is just the first step in a new and very long journey. And I’m not sure you ever reach the end.
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 and as I live with relapsing and remitting MS it is non-negotiable in my daily life. I start every day by walking my two dogs, Margot and Geoffrey. Writing usually feeds my creative urges but sometimes my fingers start itching and I have to do things with my hands. I enjoy knitting and crocheting and I’m into restoring small pieces of old wooden furniture.
I also love creating photographic layouts which reflect the characters in my novels as it really makes me think about them as personalities. I’m hoping to do more of that once my book is published.
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
This is a no-brainer for me. It is The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman, first published in 1982 after taking the author ten years to write. It is an historical fiction novel about Richard III and a convincing and sympathetic rewriting of the story of a much-maligned king. I read it many years ago on a mediterranean beach when I was studying history at university and just fell in love with the vivid descriptions, varied characters and all the conflict and tensions it evoked. I still have my battered copy, full of sand, sun cream and tears. Boy did I cry when he died. I raced through it the first time but at over 9000 pages long I could spend the rest of my life re-reading and savouring it.
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?
Ooh, I’ve had to think about this one. It’s probably about which of the characters in my book do I most admire and identify with. And I like to think it’s Kitten, one of the supporting characters who is a bit of an eco-rebel (in a nice way) in this first book, who just about stays within the law but feels passionately about saving the environment and sustainability. She is much braver, more outlandish and more extreme than I have ever been, but she has the courage of her convictions and I have big plans for her in future books.
About the Book
When Olivia Wells returns to Creekside, Cornwall, intent on fulfilling her bequest of cultivating a co-working community of eco and creative entrepreneurs in a renovated railway building, she soon finds opposition, sabotage and the murdered body of her friend. She has to put her trust in an unlikely ally to help her investigate exactly who is threatening the success of her ventures, her liberty and ultimately, her life.