This morning I’m delighted to welcome psychological thriller writer Diane Jeffrey to my blog. Here, Diane chats about her debut novel, Those Who Lie, her favourite authors, her views on women in crime fiction, whether she has any advice for aspiring authors and her favourite music.
1) As a child, did you have a favourite author and do you have a favourite author now?
My favourite author was Enid Blyton, closely followed by Roald Dahl. I was a good reader and I was good at English (luckily, as I was pretty hopeless at subjects like maths and geography), so when I was 9, my teacher decided that I should read more widely and banned Enid Blyton! He recommended The Hobbit, which I wouldn’t recommend to any 9 year old!!! It put me off reading Tolkein for life, although I loved the films!
Do I have a favourite author now? Not really, no. But I love Khaled Hosseini, Dennis Lehane, Kate Atkinson…
2) Did you enjoy English at school?
I loved English at school, especially English literature. I had some excellent English teachers. I also had one – his nickname was “Piggy” — who was absolutely useless, but he made us do a lot of dictations and a lot of grammar, so I benefited from his teaching even so!
3) How do you find teaching English in France?
I’m fortunate to be in a good school. The pupils are mostly well-behaved and motivated. The 8 am starts are a little difficult by the end of the week (I have to get up at 6:30 every day), but I have a great timetable this year and finish at 1pm at the latest every day, which allows me to write.
4) How did you find the time to write Those Who Lie? How many drafts did you go through before you submitted?
I wrote Those Who Lie on a year’s paid study leave. I applied for a year off to learn Spanish. I did learn some Spanish, but I also had a lot of free time. So I thought: it’s now or never and decided to write a novel. It was my second novel, actually, although the first was never published.
I think there were about 6 drafts when I finally got a request for the full manuscript – I actually received three requests at the same time! And then I went through another 2 rounds of edits!!! I would cringe if I read the first draft now!
5) What are your views on strong women in crime fiction?
I like to have a strong female protagonist in my writing. For my two psychological thrillers (Book 2 is on its way…), I wanted resilient main characters, who do their best to come out on top despite everything that is thrown at them.
6) How do you feel they’re different from men in crime fiction?
In psychological thrillers, the main character is often female, but this is not always true, just as the culprit is not necessarily male. As a woman, I feel more comfortable getting inside the head of a female lead character than I would for a male protagonist, but I don’t think there has to be any gender stereotypes in crime writing.
7) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up. And get in touch with published authors through social media. I would love to have taken a course in creative writing, but with three kids and a full-time job In France, I couldn’t, so I read a lot of ‘how-to’ articles. Check out The Creative Penn and Writers Digest.
8) How’s best for you to work – music or silence?
Mainly silence, but once or twice a week at the moment while my children are swimming training, instead of getting into the pool myself, I’ve got into the habit of going to the bar opposite. I write in the corner table while drinking a beer for a couple of hours. One of the bartenders watches football. I’m not a fan of football, but I’ve found it to be great background noise for writing!
9) Did you enjoy a particular genre of music growing up? How has that changed since you’ve got older?
I’m a Rock chick at heart but I was born in the early 70s so I listened to some punk, too as I was growing up. 80s music was unbeatable IMO. Still is!!! I play the piano, so I’m also into music from films (Einaudi and Nyman…) and classical music.
10) I find writing is therapy for me, somewhere I escape to and where I feel I can lose myself in the written word, how do you feel when writing?
That depends. Usually, it’s liberating. I enjoy afternoons typing with the sun coming through the dining room window and the dog at my feet or the fire lit if it’s cold. With my second novel, I set myself goals – deadlines, really – and so occasionally it felt like a bit of a chore. But even then, once I’m sitting down with ‘Mac’ on, I lose track of the time.
Thank you for your time Diane.