I’m very pleased to have Mary-Jane Riley as my author in the spotlight today. Her latest book, After She Fell, was published as an ebook on 28th April and will be out in paperback on July 14th. You can order a copy here: After She Fell
Thanks for taking part Mary-Jane. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
This is where I really wish I’d had a really interesting life – you know, trekking through the Andes, living with a tribe in Peru, going undercover in North Korea – but….no. I live in inspirational East Anglia with my television reporter husband and Golden Retriever, Bella, both of whom manage to look interested when I witter on about plots. We have three children who have all left home, but do seem to keep coming back! I was a radio presenter for many years, both for the BBC and Independent radio. I’ve interviewed all sorts of people from politicians to authors to actors to people in villages who had a story to tell. More recently I worked on the BBC Website covering a lot of crime stories – rich pickings for a writer!
What inspired you to start writing?
I wrote stories as a child and have always read voraciously. I decided to try my hand at writing stories for women’s magazines and had some small success with that, but I never thought that someone like me could write a full-length novel – that’s what real writers do, don’t they? But then I had a one-line idea for a crime novel and I built on that one line until I had 90,000 words. It was that book that got me my fantastic agent, although that one didn’t sell…
Tell me about your journey to publication
My agent is wonderful – she is encouraging, practical and tells it like it is… and she told me in no uncertain terms to get on and write the next book, after all, she said, she had to have something to take to publishers! So I did. And during one glorious week there was a bidding war (I love saying that!) for that book between three publishers in Germany. It was all very exciting, as you can imagine. Then the editor for Killer Reads, a new digital imprint of Harper Collins, picked it up and loved it and wanted to publish it. That was my first book, The Bad Things, and it came out last August.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
After She Fell features some of the characters from The Bad Things – I felt their story wasn’t over yet – but it can be read as a standalone. Elena Devonshire who was aged seventeen and a student at an exclusive boarding school on the North Norfolk coast was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her school. Her death was ruled a suicide. But Elena’s mother, Catriona, isn’t convinced and calls on her old friend, journalist Alex Devlin, to investigate. When Alex arrives in Hallow’s Edge, she quickly finds that life at the boarding school The Drift isn’t as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest. Amidst a culture of bullying and tension between school and village, no one is quite who they seem to be, and there are several people who might have wanted Elena to fall…. The story is told from Alex’s point of view, and from Elena’s point of view in the months leading up to her death.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
It was called Book Two for most of its life! My agent and I came up with a working title for Harper Collins, but then my wonderful editor nailed it with After She Fell.
How do you plan to celebrate/did you celebrate publication day?
Lunch out at my favourite pub and champagne in the evening. Always celebrate with something bubbly!
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I’ve got two on the go… a third one featuring Alex Devlin and another crime thriller that I don’t want to say too much about in case the idea disappears into the air…
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I’ve just re-read Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann as it’s fifty years since it was originally published and I remember sneaking it past my parents to read under the bedcovers. It has stood the test of time… And I’ve just finished C J Carver’s new one, Spare Me The Truth – what a thriller! A third one – Heidi Williamson’s new poetry collection The Print Museum.
What are you reading just now?
Just about to start M.R Carey’s Fellside. I loved his first book, The Girl With All The Gifts – a really intelligent zombie thriller – and am looking forward to this one enormously. (April 2016)
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
I love books – the feel of them, the smell of them, and I buy ones I really want to keep. But my kindle is fantastic too, and great for reading at night when I can’t sleep and I don’t want to disturb my husband. Usually I read wherever and whenever I can…
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
My facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/maryjanerileyauthor/
Twitter is @mrsmjriley
Instagram – maryjanerileyauthor
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Sherlock Holmes… I’ve always fancied being a complex mastermind….