Welcome crime author, Jo Allen...

 Hi Jo! It's great to welcome you to my blog for the very first time - I am looking forward to learning more about you and your debut crime novel, DEATH BY DARK WATERS. Let's kick things off with my questions...

1.)              What is your favourite thing about yourself?

Oh, the hardest question first? How am I supposed to answer that? But if I must, I must.

I like to think I’m true to myself. I am what I am. I don’t care what I look like. I hate labels. I don’t think of myself as a writer, or a mother, or a woman, or anything. I’m just me and I like being me. There’s no-one else like me. (Some may say, thank goodness…)

2.)              What do you wish you’d known before you started writing?

This is definitely easier, but there’s so much I could write a book on it. If I had to bring it down to one thing, it’s this. I wish I’d known that writing is a craft.

I’ve been writing all my life, and I think I’ve always written reasonably well, but for years I was writing vast quantities and I never made any progress. When I was in my forties I went to a writing class and thereafter everything fell into place -- I realised that I had the tools but I didn’t know how to use them. I’d learned from reading but I didn’t understand structure and storytelling, or plots and subplots. That sort of thing.

When I look back at my pile of old manuscripts I see ideas with potential but no execution. If I’d known how to go about writing a book, rather than writing something that was book length, I think I would have been published much sooner.

3.)              Share a romantic moment in your life.

I’m surprisingly prosaic for someone who has six romance novels published, but for me there’s nothing more romantic than a glass or two of wine with the one I love on a summer evening…just the two of us and the sunset.

4.)              Is there one subject you’d never write about as an author? What is it?

As my writing evolved and I’ve moved from romance to romantic suspense to crime, I’ve started writing about things I would never have written about previously, but my crime is relatively cosy and I still have lines in the sand. I don’t think I could ever write about child abuse or paedophilia, though my debut crime novel does feature the death of a child. And I can’t see myself writing about horror-style murders, with torture and mutilation. The word ‘gruesome’ in a book blurb is a complete turn-off for me.

5.)              Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

I think you can always learn something. As in my answer to your question above, I’d always advise a writer to study the craft. I’d also say: listen to advice. I use beta readers for my work and I beta read for others. Every time my beta readers come back to me they’ve spotted something in my early drafts that I’ve completely missed and which usually makes the book a whole lot better.

A follow up to this is that advice is often not what you want to hear. Don’t be disheartened. Consider it reasonably and if you think it’s wrong, ignore it. Because at the end of it, it’s your name on the cover.
6.)              If you could be the original author for any book, what would it be? Why?

I wish I’d written The Lord of the Rings. Fantasy is not my genre, but I think it’s an extraordinary work. It’s the book I’d take to a desert island.

7.)              What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?

Nothing! I was pretty well-behaved, and as a teenager I was sullen rather than rebellious. The only time my dad ever used the immortal phrase “you’re not going out looking like that” was when I couldn’t be bothered to dress up if we were going somewhere smart.

8.)              If I came to your house for dinner what would you prepare for me? Why?

What do you like to eat? I would try and make sure you had something you liked, but assuming you aren’t fussy I would cook you my signature starter of deep fried brie in a parmesan crust, followed by a joint of beef with all the trimmings. I would buy an individual pudding for you (I’m trying to avoid sugar and if I made one I would just eat it) and there would be a cheeseboard and fresh fruit.

Bon appetit!

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University, with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in geography and Earth science. She’s been writing for pleasure and publication for as long as she can remember. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense, as well as writing online articles on travel and on her favourite academic subject, Earth science. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read -- crime.

Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

The first in Jo’s crime series set in the English Lakes will be published by Aria Fiction in spring 2019.

Follow Jo:

on Twitter @JoAllenAuthor


The charred remains of a child are discovered - a child no one seems to have missed...
It's high summer, and the lakes are in the midst of an unrelenting heatwave. Uncontrollable fell fires are breaking out across the moors faster than they can be extinguished. When firefighters uncover the body of a dead child at the heart of the latest blaze, Detective Chief Inspector Jude Satterthwaite's arson investigation turns to one of murder.

Jude was born and bred in the Lake District. He knows everyone... and everyone knows him. Except his intriguing new Detective Sergeant, Ashleigh O'Halloran, who is running from a dangerous past and has secrets of her own to hide...

Temperatures - and tension - in the village are rising, and with the body count rising Jude and his team race against the clock to catch the killer before it's too late...

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