We love writers here, and we’re keen to learn from them. Following our review of her new Annie Carter novel Ruthless, Crime Thriller Fella is over the moon that the amazing Jessie Keane has agreed to tell us a little about how she goes about the critical business of getting words on a page.
Always character first for me. In the Annie Carter series, it was Annie who first kicked off the action, and her strong character sustains it. Good bold characters tend to develop their own way of handling situations – I often feel I’m just along for the ride.
Take us through a typical writing day for you?
This can start as early as 6am if I’m really busy on a book, but usually it’s 9am after a hot shower, breakfast in the summer house and a good long think. I work through until 1pm, then lunch and edit afterwards, and start to think about where things are heading next day…
I read a huge diversity of books. Currently I’m reading Ruth Rendell’s Wexford series, her deductive plotting is just superb. My first love in books as a teenager was something my father passed on to me – Alistair MacLean’s Ice Station Zebra. I was hooked on all MacLean’s books after that, but that one particularly stayed with me (Thin ice! Thin ice!) and I think eventually led me to write thrillers of my own. It also taught me what an arroyo is…
What’s the hardest lesson you’ve ever had to learn about writing?
Kill your darlings. That purple bit of prose you really love, the bit that’s quite Shakespearian? Take it out. Straight away. And bin it.
How do you deal with feedback?
If it’s feedback from your editor about your beloved book, at first this is quite difficult. You may rant, rage, say he/she’s got it all wrong/spend hours flouncing around the garden having hissy fits. But put it aside, come back to it … and you will see, of course, that your editor is (annoyingly) right. As per flipping usual.
How have your own experiences shaped your writing?
To a certain extent they have. I write a lot about London, Soho, New York, and I’ve explored all those places in all their seediness and glamour … but |I write about crime too, and that calls for a lot of imagination and a great deal of research because I have never killed anybody.
Learn absolute persistence. Just stick with it. People will tell you to get a proper job; take no notice. PERSIST.
And what’s your best advice for an author looking to get into the marketplace?
Persistence is a definite requirement. Send your MS to agents (I sent my first novel Dirty Game to 6 at once, and I have to tell you, they hate that. AND I forgot to number the pages). Hopefully one of them will see a glimmer of promise and start you on your way to publication. Try and be patient. If the thing pings straight back at you, send it out to a few more, and meanwhile get on with your next writing project. As soon as your new agent sells your first novel to a publisher, they will be asking you, what’s next…?
What’s next for you?
Currently I’m working on Lawless, which is the sequel to Nameless which was published in 2012. After that, who knows? That’s the fun part of writing, starting January of a new year with a fresh notebook and a brand-new novel to somehow snatch out of the ether…