Today we have an interview with Jane Jago who is bringing out her latest book Who Pulled Her Out? Aside from being my co-conspirator in the creation of The Dai and Julia Mysteries, Jane is also an incredibly talented and prolific multi-genre author, writing everything from epic length novels to poetry, (including hilariously dirty limericks) and daily drabbles.
- After a career that was more to do with catering and camper vans, What prompted you to get into this whole writing thing in the first place?
I have been writing poetry and fiction since I was old enough to hold a pen. Never stopped, although earning a living rather got in the way. Kept writing throughout. An example being a pantomime for the staff to perform when I was a school cook.
- Why did you choose to self-publish rather than try the traditional route?
Because I could, and because it gives me ultimate control.
- Thinking of Who Pulled Her Out? and it’s forerunner, how much of you do you feel there is in Joss?
Oh heck. I don’t know. You’d have to ask somebody who knows us both. But there are some things – like we both know how to cook, both love our husbands completely, and both have big dogs…
- The way you write some of the interactions between Joss and her family and friends in both Who Put Her In? and Who Pulled Her Out? makes a reader feel as if they are right there with them, sitting around the table. How were you able to accomplish such immersive writing?
It’s a case of putting yourself in your protagonist’s head. Once you do that you can write from the heart of the character. Immersion follows naturally. It helps if you think you’d like to have a beer with your hero or heroine….
- You write across genres, but if you had to pick which is your favourite genre to write in and why?
Probably verse. Poetry in all its forms satisfies me immensely – from serious verse to naughty limericks it’s all a particular delight.
- Is there ever anything you hope readers will gain from your books, other than pure entertainment and does that play into the choices you make for plot and character behavior?
I’d like to think that my books reflect a sense of justice, and I guess that must play in the choice of plot and the way my characters react.
- Have you ever consciously written other people you know into your stories, friends, family or enemies and where do you get your characters from if not?
No. I don’t think it would work for me at all to write ‘real’ people. I’m not even tempted by the idea of killing off those who irritate. However, I’m very sure that there are bits and pieces of those I love in many of my characters. And where do they come from? Honestly I know not. I must have a fertile imagination.
- Several of your books include very characterful dogs. How much of their characters are based on your own special Dog or on other dogs you know?
Oh well. Dogs. In general I prefer them to humans. And Stan and Ollie are modelled loosely on a pair of German Shepherds who owned us some years ago. But Stan and Ollie might be a bit better behaved.
- What advice would you offer to anyone starting out on the journey of being a writer?
Just write it. Write what you want to read. Write it as well as you possibly can. Listen to criticism and advice, but in the end it’s vital to be true to yourself. And if you have the opportunity, get yourself a Scooby Gang. Mine is the best in the world. I’m raising a metaphorical glass to Ian Bristow, L.N. Denison and E.M. Swift-Hook – Scooby Dooby Doo!
Since Who Pulled Her Out? is out today could you share with us an extract of one of your favourite scenes?
We were interrupted by the sound of bare feet slapping on floorboards and the twins erupted into the room.
“Uncle Mark. Uncle Mark.”
He dropped to his knees and opened his arms receiving two small wriggling figures against his chest. The girls kissed him and wound their arms around his head and neck.
“What you doing here? Mummy never said you were coming!”
They turned identical versions of the stink eye on me and I couldn’t help grinning. Mark laughed out loud.
“Mummy didn’t know I was coming. It’s a surprise visit. So stop giving her evil looks.” He must have tickled their ribs as they collapsed in a giggling heap. After a few moments making a great fuss of one of their favourite adults, Roz looked at me.
“Mummy,” she said firmly, “it’s not nice sleeping in your clothes, you wake up feeling all sticky and fowsty”.
“You do,” Ali concurred, “and we wonder how Stan and Ollie manage in all that fur”.
“Easily. They are dogs and dogs don’t sweat. But you two could go and have a soak in my bath if you would like. I’ll even authorise bubbles.”
“That would be nice, but it takes ages. Will Uncle Mark still be here when we finish?” Roz eyed me sternly.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you ask him?”
Roz rotated her head in a way that made her look a bit like an owl. She scowled at Mark before taking his face between her pink palms.
“If me and Ali go and get clean will you still be here when we come back?”
“That depends on Mummy. If she promises to feed me later I could stick around.”
Both heads swivelled and the twins fixed me with a glare. I found myself laughing at their expressions of wanton menace.
“Yes. Yes. I’ll feed the big lump.”
The girls were instantly all smiles and Mark stood up with them in his arms.
“Oof,” he grunted, “you two are getting to be a proper pair of fatties.”
While my daughters were wreaking their revenge, Stan and Ollie came out of the bedroom and walked to the front door where they stood shoulder to shoulder swishing their tails. Sure enough, a green Discovery slipped into view with Benny at the wheel. The twins wriggled and Mark set them on their feet.
“Daddy, Daddy,” they ran pell-mell for the door, but were blocked by a pincers movement from the German Shepherds. Ollie growled softly and the girls stood still.
“You two big bullies could let us out,” Ali grumbled, “we won’t get runned over”.
The dogs, however, remained immobile until Ben parked the Disco and slid out of the driving seat. Once his feet were on the gravel they let the girls go, standing and watching as they careered over to their father. He bent and scooped them into his arms.
“Daddy, Daddy. Do you know what Uncle Mark called us?”
“No. What did he call you?”
The girls turned faces of round-eyed disbelief towards Ben.
“He said we was fatties…”
Even from where I was standing I could see the crows feet at the corners of Ben’s eyes deepening as he fought the urge to laugh. But he manfully beat it down and was able to respond with proper indignation.
“Did he indeed. I shall beat him with a stick and order him never to darken our door again.”
The twins crowed with delight and Ben strode inside with a chattering twin on each arm.
Who Pulled Her Out? is out today in paperback and ebook.
Jane Jago lives in the beautiful Westcountry with her large dog and her favourite husband (yes, he’s large too). She spent half her working life cooking, and the other half editing other people’s manuscripts. Both these occupations seemed to take up a large proportion of her waking moments, leaving little or no time for the stories that filled her imagination.
But time moves on and it became possible to squeeze out the odd hour here and there to get some words onto ‘paper’. Her first book The Long Game took nearly two years to write, principally because the characters kept doing unexpected things requiring rewrite after rewrite.
Since then, Jane has learned that the story as it begins in her head is unlikely to bear very much resemblance to the finished book. Equally, she has learned to enjoy the journey, as her characters take her to places she never knew existed while they play out their lives on the page in front of her.