Daily Archives: February 3, 2013

Jane Casey on her new book ‘How to Fall’

Jane Casey is already well-known to crime fiction fans for her excellent books to date, but she was kind enough to drop by to tell Books and Writers a little about her latest book ‘How to Fall’ which is certain to gain her yet more readers and fans through the fast growing YA market.

imagesIt was probably inevitable that I would try to write a YA novel at some stage, but like all the best twists, I didn’t see it coming.

I read a lot of teen novels; I always have. I love it for the page-turning, gut-wrenching, heart-warming stories so many great writers tell.

I worked as a children’s books editor before becoming a full-time writer and I specialised in YA because that was where my heart lay. I edited some famous, talented, successful and award-winning writers. I acquired some bestselling books for my list. It was rewarding, and challenging, and fun.

But that was work.

Writing was my addiction.

It was the thing that got me out of bed at 5.30 in the morning so I could get a couple of hours in before getting ready to go to the office. It was how I spent my weekends and bank holidays. It was my escape from the day-to-day round of admin and meetings and contracts – the bits of the job I found hard work. I was never going to spend my spare time writing the kind of book I was editing, because it was too close to my everyday work.

I wrote my first crime novel because the idea wouldn’t let me go, and because I read crime novels for fun when I wasn’t submerged in children’s manuscripts, and because I live with the ultimate author’s guide to crime and the law (my husband is a criminal barrister).

After years of storing up bad karma by rejecting thousands of would-be authors (but always nicely!) I was picked off the United Agents slush pile and given a chance. That chance became The Missing, and I got a new career. I’ve just delivered my fifth adult crime novel, and I already know what I’m going to write for the sixth, because that’s my wonderful job.

New readers keep getting in touch to tell me that they like what I’m doing, and that I should do more. It’s a dream come true, literally. And yet, this time last year there was something missing. There was another story I wanted to tell, for a different readership.

images-1I can’t help writing any more than I can help blinking, and I know I would have written How to Fall even if no one had wanted to publish it. I was fortunate that somebody did want me to write it, so once again I’ve had the joy of seeing an idea become a book. There aren’t many better feelings in the world.

How to Fall is about a teenage girl named Jess who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her cousin Freya, a sweet-natured artist who fell off a cliff and died. My editor described it as ‘Mean Girls with murder’, and that’s pretty accurate – everyone has a secret or two to hide and one of them is prepared to kill to prevent the truth from getting out. It’s a book I loved writing, with characters I can’t wait to revisit in the sequel. For all that, it feels like a big risk to be coming out with something new for a different readership.

I have no idea whether How to Fall will do well or disappear without a trace. I don’t know what my current readers will make of it, if any of them buy it. I don’t know what the YA fans will think of me. But I do know this: in writing it, I followed my own best advice.

Despite my background as a commercially minded editor, it’s to trust your instincts. Write the story you want to read, and worry about what happens to it later. Whether the book gets published or not, let your characters live and act out their tale, for your own satisfaction. That’s how I’ve always worked, and how I will probably continue to work. Even if I don’t know where it will take me, I know it will make me happy along the way.

A very big thank you to Jane for stopping by and, thanks to Random House, we have copies of ‘How to Fall’ to give away to three lucky winners – just leave a comment below and your twitter name or email address, changing ‘@’ to ‘AT’ to avoid those pesky spambots – good luck !

Keith 

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Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Published by Bantam Press

UnknownThe dead can’t speak to us,’ Professor Madoc had said.

That was a lie.

Because the body Patrick Fort is examining in anatomy class is trying to tell him all kinds of things.

Life is already strange enough for the obsessive Patrick without having to solve a possible murder. Especially when no one believes a crime has even taken place. Now he must stay out of danger long enough to unravel the mystery – while he dissects his own evidence.

But as Patrick learns one truth from a dead man, he discovers there have been many other lies rather closer to home…

I found this a brave change of style from Belinda Bauer, although in many ways it’s a return of sorts to the jigsaw-like plotting of her breakthrough novel, Blacklands, with a crime story told in this case with several almost episodic tales that weave through and against each other to a satisfying conclusion.

The central character of Patrick, who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome is interesting, likeable and, at times, very humorous as he takes much of what he is told exactly on face value whilst, all the while, carrying out his investigation of what, if it is murder, is likely to be the least violent murder to have occurred in crime fiction in some time.

In many ways that’s what I found refreshing about Rubbernecker – it’s a prime example that, to create a great crime fiction novel, there doesn’t have to be a reliance on bloodshed and violence.

With each successive novel, Bauer manages to create fiction that is very easily, and enjoyably, read and absorbed page after finely crafted page. But it does leave the reader with a problem – just how do you remove the dark images and themes therein from your mind afterwards….?

It’s a great problem to have – and a great read.

Keith

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