Friday, June 27, 2014
SCHMOOZING WITH JILL DOWNIE
1. Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?
There has been a multiplicity of influences, rather than one writer or person above all. I was taught by some wonderfully talented and dedicated women, who influenced me with both their encouragement and constructive criticism. I was raised in a home full of books of all genres, from literary to popular fiction, including all the great writers of the Golden Age of mystery writing in Britain, and that master of setting and atmosphere, the French mystery writer, Georges Simenon. And here I am now, writing mysteries myself!
2. What are you working on now?
I am somewhere around the middle of the fourth book in the Moretti and Falla mystery series, set on the Channel Island of Guernsey, where I used to live. Its working title is Death Under Glass. I have the idea for the fifth tucked away in the back pocket of my mind, not to be thought about yet. The third in the series, Blood Will Out, comes out in September 2014.
3. In what ways is your main protagonist like you? If at all?
I have two main protagonists, one male, Detective Inspector Ed Moretti; and one female, his partner, Detective Sergeant Liz Falla, and I like to think both characters have something of me in them. I suspect, actually, that my taste in music, movies and books is closer to Ed’s than to Liz’s! But Liz is the kind of young woman I admire very much and hope I would have been, if I had been born into her generation.
4. Are you character or plot driven?
Character, character, character. Although I usually have an idea in my mind for the book, it floats around in there until the characters nail it down for me.
5. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
The answer to this is very much linked to the fourth question. I had written in many genres before starting to write mysteries, and it is quite fascinating to me how the characters in the mystery genre often provide twists and turns I never thought of when I started – almost as if they had minds of their own. Which, of course, they have! So, yes, I am a pantser.
6. What do you hope readers will take away from your writing?
That they had a good time – such a strange thing to say about murder! – and that they were taken into the world of my characters with all its complications. Also, that they feel the attraction of my island setting: atmosphere in my mysteries is important to me.
7. Where do you see yourself as a writer in ten years?
Ah, the tempting fate question! Still writing about my beautiful island, perhaps writing another series, perhaps writing a historical mystery. I’d love to do that. But always writing.
8. What is the one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
This is a tough question to answer. I have given it some thought, and this is what I came up with, which surprised me also: I was an actress, I’m married to an actor, I love performing, I love reading from my books to an audience – but essentially, I am a loner. Which is why, I guess, writing is a good career choice!
9. What do you like to read for pleasure?
Mysteries of all kinds, from cozies to noir. Over the past few years I have been rereading some of the classics I read as a child and teenager – Dickens, Trollope and so on – and, to keep my little grey cells working and active, I have a subscription to the Times Literary Supplement. Oh how I enjoy all that academic infighting on the letters page!
10. Give us a summary of your latest book in a Tweet.
Witches, theatrical vampires, family secrets impede Moretti’s investigation into a hermit’s suicide. Or is it murder? And if murder - why?