By George Ebey
Jane Isaac is the author of several works of crime and suspense including, An Unfamiliar Murder and The Truth Will Out. Her latest book, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, is due out this June and introduces us to her new character, Detective Inspector Will Jackman.
Following an argument with her British boyfriend, Chinese student Min Li is abducted while walking the dark streets of picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon alone. Trapped in a dark pit, Min is at the mercy of her captor. Detective Inspector Jackman is tasked with solving the case, and in his search for answers, discovers that the truth is buried deeper than he ever expected.
The Big Thrill recently checked in with Isaac to discuss her book and what elements are needed to tell a good suspense story.
What first drew you to writing about crime and psychological suspense?
Raised on Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie, sitting around the television with my family on a Sunday evening watching Poirot, and trying to guess whodunit. I guess I’ve always loved the twists and turns of thrillers and mysteries, so the genre felt the natural choice with my own writing.
You book features a new character, Detective Inspector Will Jackman. Did you learn anything interesting about his profession when you were developing your story?
In BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE, a Chinese student is abducted from the dark streets of Stratford upon Avon and kept in a disused pit in the surrounding Warwickshire countryside. We follow her story as she is held captive, and the rest of the novel is through the eyes of Will Jackman as he seeks to find her.
For me, research is one of the most fascinating parts of writing detective fiction and police procedural research is key, as it gives the story authenticity. As this is my third book, I was already aware of the basic ground rules of a police investigation. However, every case is different and for this novel I spent time with a former Chief Superintendent of Police who was able to help me with the protocol associated with kidnappings, and the procedure for international liaison with China, and how this affects a case.
What elements do you feel are essential for a good suspense story?
A fast-paced text set around deeply-layered characters that jump off the page and feel real. When I’m reading myself, if I can relate to the story, I almost feel immersed in the horror and the excitement of it. That’s what I try to re-create in my own work.
What advice would you give to the newbie author?
Read voraciously in and around the genre you intend to work with, and try to write something every day, no matter how short. When your script is complete, send it to people who you trust to give you honest and constructive feedback, then rework until it is the best you can do before you submit.
It can be difficult to find a home for a novel, and publishers reject submissions for many reasons which are not necessarily anything to do with your writing: It may not fit with a publisher’s list, they may have published something similar, or they may not be looking for submissions in your genre at this time. So, if you receive a rejection, don’t give up; take heed of any advice, rework your script if necessary, and submit elsewhere.
Do you have anything new in the works?
I’ve just completed outlines for two more psychological thriller/police procedurals, one of which will hopefully be completed and ready for publication next year.
Jane loves to hear from readers and writers. Visit her website where you can email her through the contacts page or peruse her blog, ‘Caffeine’s Not a Crime’.