Many thanks to Isabella Muir and Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to join in.
Interview with Isabella Muir…..
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?
Hello all. I’m Isabella Muir, the author of the Sussex Crime mystery series. This series of three books are based around the character of Janie Juke, a young librarian. Set in the late 1960s Janie Juke turns out to be an excellent amateur sleuth, following in the footsteps of her hero, Hercule Poirot. The stories are set in the fictional Sussex seaside town of Tamarisk Bay and are perfect for anyone who loves Agatha Christie and the swinging sixties.
Each of the novels are stand-alone stories, with the latest (published June 2018) – The Invisible Case – seeing Janie investigating the sudden death of a stranger!
Where did/do you get your ideas from?
After I finished my MA I self-published an anthology of my short stories, called Ivory Vellum. One of the stories is about a little girl whose father is hit by a bus. I got to thinking – what would it be like if the father ended up blind – what would have happened to the family and to the girl?
This gave me the idea for my first novel, The Tapestry Bag. Janie Juke is the little girl all grown up.
Once I had written The Tapestry Bag, I wanted Janie to have the chance to solve another case. Lost Property focuses on the story of Hugh Furness, a world war 2 RAF pilot. I live close to Tangmere Military Museum, which gave me the idea and got me thinking about WW2 in general.
In The Invisible Case we meet Janie’s Aunt Jessica, who has been off travelling around Europe for the last nine years. I’m half Italian, so I wanted to tell the story of Jessica’s return by starting with the train journey from Rome to Calais, which is a journey I did with my family many times as a child.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Janie’s father, Philip, is a blind physiotherapist. Many years ago I used to visit a brilliant physiotherapist, when I was having a lot of back trouble. He was blind and if anything it made him an even better therapist than some sighted ones I have been to.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
Good question! I’ve tried to choose names that were popular in the era, but also names that fit the characters. The first thing I do when I think of a character is to find a photo of the kind of person I have in my mind and then the name just seems to follow.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I write my first draft by hand, with a pencil in a notebook. I prefer afternoons to write and I need quiet and solitude – not even background music. Then when I transfer the first draft to the computer I do a bit of a first edit. After that I’ll send the manuscript off to my two amazing writing buddies, who will give me invaluable feedback about content and structure. Then it’s all about a million more hours editing until the final draft is ready to upload!
Who are your top 5 favourite authors?
This is a difficult one – there are so many…but if I had to limit myself to five, then it would be Thomas Hardy as my classic author, and then Anita Shreve, Helen Dunmore, Maggie O’Farrell and Rachel Joyce (of Harold Fry fame).
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
JRR Tolkien – Would you like to have lived in Middle Earth – maybe as a hobbit?
Were you a big reader as a child?
I started reading when I was about four years old (according to my mum!). I loved all the Enid Blyton Famous Five books, as well as the Malory Towers series, which was all about a boarding school. Another series I remember devouring was by Elinor M Brent-Dyer about a Chalet School. Then in my teens I read all the Agatha Christie books I could get my hands on, before moving on to science fiction.
When did you start to write?
I messed around with stories and poetry as a teenager, but started writing fiction in earnest once I was in my thirties.
If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?
Tess of the D’Urbevilles – I don’t think poor Tess should have to die.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
The Pilot’s Wife, by Anita Shreve
If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?
No fixed abode
Because some of my happiest times have been when I’ve been travelling.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?
I’d like to meet Janie’s father, Philip. I’d take him to my favourite café overlooking one of our local beaches, where he could listen to the waves and smell the sea.
What are you working on right now?
I have the embryo of an idea for the next book – it will be Number 4 in the Sussex Crime mystery series – but will see the young journalist Libby Frobisher lead the investigation – with Janie Juke taking a bit of a back seat!
Do you have a new release due?
I’m hoping my fourth novel will be out well before Christmas. But I’ll keep you posted via my website.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
I treat myself to a chilled glass of something, preferably with bubbles! And have an extra hug with my Scottie, Hamish.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor/
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Isabella-Muir/e/B074F18ZSY/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
I hope readers enjoy the stories – it would be great to have feedback – either by reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, of just by contacting me via any of the above.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Isabella 🙂
The Invisible Case
A shocking death turns a homecoming into a nightmare.
It’s Easter 1970 in the seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, and for one family the first Easter of a new decade brings a shocking tragedy. Amateur sleuth and professional librarian, Janie Juke, is settling into motherhood and looking forward to spending time with her family. When her Aunt Jessica is due back from Rome after nine years travelling around Europe, she arrives back in town with a new Italian friend, Luigi, and the whole family soon get embroiled in a tangle of mystery and suspicion, with death and passion at the heart of the story.
As time runs out on Luigi as prime suspect for murder, Janie has to use all of her powers of deduction in the footsteps of her hero, Hercule Poirot, to uncover the facts. Why did Luigi come to Tamarisk Bay? What is the truth about his family?
As Luigi’s story unfolds, tragedy seems to haunt the past, present and unless Janie acts fast, possibly what is yet to come.
Author Bio –
Isabella Muir is the author of Janie Juke series of crime mysteries – all set in Sussex.
‘The Tapestry Bag’ is the first in the series, followed by ‘Lost Property’. Now – ‘The Invisible Case’ – the latest in the series is available for pre-order from Amazon.
The ‘Janie Juke mysteries’ are set in Sussex in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian with a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.
Isabella has also published ‘Ivory Vellum’ – a collection of short stories.
She has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.
Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.
Social Media Links –
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