I’m so excited to have Mary-Jane Riley pop by the book review cafe, Mary-Jane is the author of Bad Things and her latest book After She Fell, was published on the 28th April 2016, both books are psychological thrillers.
Welcome to the book review cafe Mary-Jane and thank you for popping by to answer some questions
For those readers who haven’t yet heard of you or your book After She Fell can you provide us with an introduction?
Of course. I’m a middle-aged mum of three grown-up children (the mid-50s are the new mid-40s, right?) and am married to a television reporter. We live in East Anglia and have a beautiful Golden Retriever. I was a radio presenter for many years – both for the BBC and Independent radio. During the course of that particular career I interviewed all sorts of people: from prime ministers to actors to authors to heroes to chimney sweeps and even a lady whose passion was collecting plastic carrier bags. More recently I worked on the BBC News website covering many of crime stories. After She Fell is my second crime novel and features some characters from my first, The Bad Things, though it does work as a standalone. It’s set on the North Norfolk coast and centres on the death of Elena Devonshire, a 17-year-old student from an exclusive boarding school in a coastal village. Elena is found at the bottom of the cliffs and the question is, did she fall or was she pushed? The story is told from Alex’s point of view, and from Elena’s in the months leading up to her death.
Where did the idea After She Fell come from?
I’ve always been fascinated by boarding schools – I think it comes from reading too much Enid Blyton and Anthony Buckeridge as a child and wanting to have lots of best friends and midnight feasts! (After I’d written the book I was very glad not to have gone to boarding school!) And I imagine that there can be quite an intense and competitive culture in those schools, particularly as you are with the same people 24/7. I also wanted to explore the relationship between the youngsters in an exclusive school and the youngsters of a relatively poor rural village. And there was more of Alex Devlin’s story (my journalist protagonist in The Bad Things) to tell. So I sent her to The Drift in Hallow’s Edge on the crumbling Norfolk coast – both fictitious places, by the way!
How do you research material for your book?
Hmm, good question… I usually research as and when I need to otherwise I think I would get overwhelmed and completely sidetracked! I use a combination of the BBC website, the internet and contacts I’ve made during the course of my work.
Do you write an outline before you start writing?
I usually know the characters and whose story I’m telling, what the story is and have an inkling of the ending before I start. If I write detailed plans or outlines I find I lose enthusiasm and get a bit bored! I like to surprise myself…
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
I don’t know really, it’s always been there for as long as I can remember.. I’ve always been interested in people’s stories and read voraciously – it’s my way of escaping from the world sometimes… Going about it seriously was a different matter. I began by writing stories for women’s magazines and then one day found myself with a one-line idea for a crime book. It took a bit of time to expand that to 90,000 words…
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The opportunity for procrastination! Too many distractions, I’m better if I turn the wi fi off… especially as I have just discovered the delights of the Gif button on Twitter… And the terror of wondering if anyone will buy your book and most importantly, enjoy it.
Are you inspired by any particular authors?
So many…. Ruth Rendell, PD James, Stephen King, Louise Doughty, Kate Atkinson, Daphne Du Maurier (her short stories are peerless) and one of the best – Patricia Highsmith.
If you could co write a book with another author, who would it be and Why?
Patricia Highsmith – just imagine what I would learn!
What authors/books do you like to read in your spare time?
Everything, anything. A lot of crime. Thrillers. Romance.
What book are you reading now?
The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent. Fabulous writing. And have just ordered Reacher Said Nothing by Andy Martin.
Are you able to tell me anything about your next book?
I’m dithering at the moment and sort of writing two at the same time – a possible third and final one featuring Alex Devlin and another crime book, which I don’t want to say too much about in case the idea dissolves in front of me!
During all the interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Am I happy being a writer? Yes. There are days when it’s all going horribly wrong, but there are many more when I can think, dream and talk to the dog about plots.
Can you give me three interesting facts about yourself ?
I wish I was one of those people who’d had a really interesting life… you know, climbing Everest naked, living in the jungle for three years… that sort of thing. But I’m not. So… I was a model,* I regularly chaired a radio phone-in for people with sexual problems (and boy, did I learn a lot), and I have a vast collection of cookery books.
*My hand holding a pen was used in a charity Christmas catalogue
Thank you Mary-Jane for stopping by the book review cafe, and I wish you all the best with After She Fell. You can read my review for The Bad Things HERE
About the author
Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades.
Social media links
THE BAD THINGS by Mary-Jane Riley out now in ebook and paperback HERE
AFTER SHE FELL out as an e book April 28th and paperback July 14th HERE