I’m delighted to welcome my very first guest to ‘My Reading Corner’ – Jane Cable.
Jane at Studland
Jane’s debut novel ‘The Cheesemaker’s House‘ was published in August 2013 and she has very kindly taken the time to answer a few of my questions.
You have created some very interesting characters in The Cheesemaker’s House. Do you ever base your characters on people you know?
Not generally, no. Alice, in particular is her own woman but I still hope she is recognisable to most of us.
Sometimes I borrow people’s physical characteristics though and one of those is Richard. And as when I wrote the book my expectations of publication were tiny I didn’t bother to change his name. The character is also just a little bit like the real Richard in that he’s a bit of a cheeky chancer too. My problem is that the real Richard and his wife are going away for Christmas and have bought copies of the book to read on holiday. I reckon he may not notice but I am sure as soon as his wife reads Alice’s initial description: “tall, dark and handsome with a couple of days of designer stubble and a gold hoop in his left ear” then I’m in trouble!
How long did it take you to write the book and did you plan the storyline in detail at the beginning or just run with it?
I started The Cheesemaker’s House in early 2009 and just ran with it. I know some authors plan a book but I have a rough idea and let the characters tell their own story as they develop. The plot did change quite dramatically as I went along and I re-wrote the ending several times before I was satisfied with it.
I also tend to write from the heart the first time then go back and edit later. I am completely untutored as a writer and some of the best advice I got was from Sophie Hannah who told me that I had a great deal of polishing to do before the book would be ready for publication. She was right and it was well worth all the hard work going over and over the manuscript to make sure it was as good as it possibly could be.
How did you come up with the design for the book cover?
My publisher, Matador, has to take a lot of the credit for this. I had a few ideas and I knew there were a handful of images which were important to the plot. The designers at Matador asked me which book covers I liked and the one which resonated with me most was Charlotte Rogan’s The Lifeboat – I thought the use of colour and of a single image were really striking.
The central image for The Cheesemaker’s House cover was originally the key and what it opened (don’t want to say too much here) but that just looked too clumsy so in the end I went for the key on its own.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading, and what are you reading now?
I have quite a broad taste in books but very little time to read. I find that when I’m writing I get so into the heads of my characters, getting into somebody else’s as well confuses me.
I like books where the central characters become friends and where the plot isn’t too obvious. Sometimes it will be a series – a favourite would be Mark Hebden’s Pel detective novels – or sometimes a singular stunner like The Time Traveler’s Wife. Because I’m editing at the moment I’m not reading anything but I’ve not long finished Lorna Fergusson’s The Chase and Daniel Clay’s Broken is next on my list.
What do you do to relax?
I write! It’s what I love doing more than anything else and it’s a real luxury for me to be able to sit quietly in my study and create something new.
Other than that I’m a bit of a yoga nut and I love swimming, walking and bodyboarding (at the rare times conditions allow). I also have a really special group of friends and a wonderful husband so spending time when the people I love is very relaxing too.
Can you tell us a little about your next book?
It’s a romance-suspense with its roots in folklore, but not a ghost story. I hope readers won’t be disappointed with that but I had finished three drafts of it before The Cheesemaker’s House was published. I thought long and hard about whether it was right to want to publish it next but I still believe in the story so I’m going to follow my instincts. It has the working title of The Fairy Tree and is set around a real tree on the banks of the river Hamble which has its own special place in the community.
If I publish the book independently I hope it will be out in late 2014 but I might still have a go at trying to attract a mainstream publisher for it. If that happens then the timing will be out of my hands.
Thank you very much Jane. I really enjoyed reading The Cheesemaker’s House and look forward to your next book.
Jane Cable’s novel won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition, reaching the last four out of over a thousand entries. The judges of this competition compared her work to that of Barbara Erskine, but it also resembles the more recent works of Alan Titchmarsh or Kate Mosse.
Published 1 August 2013 by Matador, an imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd
The Cheesemaker’s House has its own Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Cheesemakers-House/245534682166250?fref=ts
You can read my review here