Jackie Baldwin’s debut novel, Dead Man’s Prayer was published in 2016. Her second novel, Perfect Dead, will be published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins, on 15th June, 2018. Today we’re talking about researching criminal investigations, creative inspiration, and surviving on a desert island.
Hi Jackie, tell us a little about your writing to date.
I started writing when my daughter was a bump and she is twenty one now. The first thing I wrote was a short film script which got me a place on a weekend film and TV course with the legendary Peter Mullen. I later did the same with a sitcom script which gained me a place on an Arvon course with the famous comedy duo of Marks and Gran. After that, I joined a local playwriting group writing short plays and finally a full length play under a Traverse outreach scheme. Then, when that group folded after around ten years, I started the first DI Farrell novel, Dead Man’s Prayer.
Where did your inspiration for Perfect Dead come from?
One of my close friends is an artist and brings an incredible intensity to her work. It feels to me that if she was physically prevented from creating her work she would fade away to transparency and cease to exist. That kind of passion strikes me as extraordinary and seems very different to the business of being a commercial artist selling pretty pictures to the mass market. I wanted to explore the intense world of artists in my crime novel and there is a designated Artists’ Town in Kirkcudbright, Dumfries and Galloway which setting lent itself to that very well.
How do you research the criminal investigation elements of your novels?
For my first novel I was lucky that a local DI agreed to meet with me and answer all my questions. The fact that I had been a criminal defence lawyer in the town that my books are set was also a great help as I knew my way around in that regard. I even bought my wedding dress on the way to the jail! You can see why I don’t write romance!
That’s a brilliant story in itself! Right – personal writing choice: pen or keyboard?
I started off writing years ago in longhand but now it would be unthinkable for me to do that as I can type as quickly as I think. That said, my plotting, characterisation and every other aspect of the book are done old school with a biro in a large hard backed book.
When do you know a novel is complete?
I love that feeling of your fingers dancing over the keyboard as you race to the climax of the book and everything comes together. I have found so far that I have a firm sense of where I want to leave my books.
What is the best part of being an author? And the worst?
The best part is undoubtedly chatting with people who have read and enjoyed my book and really engaged with the characters. That makes all the hard work so worth it. The worst part is promoting my work. I am quite reticent by nature so that feels a little uncomfortable but I will be more used to it second time around.
Who are your writing heroes?
On the crime front I am a huge fan of Caro Ramsay, Sophie Hannah, MR Hall, Susie Steiner and Aline Templeton to name but a few.
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with three fictional characters, who would you choose, and why?
What a great question! Well, I am hopelessly impractical and not a little squeamish so my first pick would be action man Joe Hunter from the thriller series by Matt Hilton. He could handle any hostiles, build a shelter and gut the fish! My next pick would be DS Manon Bradshaw from the series by Susie Steiner. She’s tough, resourceful and determined but with just enough flaws to make her likable and fun to be around. My third choice has to be Bridget Jones from the books by Helen Fielding. I would need Bridget because she has a fabulous sense of humour and makes me laugh! We could be inept together and start a diary chronicling our adventures on the wall of a cave.
Wine gums or chocolate as your writing snack of choice?
I have a third DI Farrell novel planned and then I am going to attempt to write the sci-fi novel that I would like to read.
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions!
Thanks so much for having me on your fab blog, Emma!
Jackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead, is due to be published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. However, she now practices in Dumfries as a hypnotherapist.