Interview with mystery author Jane Renshaw

novelist Jane Renshaw is here
today and we’re chatting about The Sweetest Poison.

During her virtual book tour, Jane will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and
Noble (winner’s choice) gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, use
the form below.
To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit
her other tour stops
and enter there, too!

discovered early in her ‘career’ that she didn’t have what it takes to be a
scientist, Jane Renshaw shuffled sideways into scientific and medical editing,
which has the big advantage that she can do it while watching Bargain Hunt!
Jane writes what she loves to read – series of novels in which the reader can
immerse herself, which let her get to know an engaging, interesting and/or
terrifying cast of characters slowly, in the same way you get to know people in
real life. Ideally, the drama should be played out in a gorgeous setting, and
the cast should include at least one dangerously charismatic, witty, outrageous
protagonist with whom the reader can fall in love. A bit of murder and mayhem
in the mix never hurts either… Hence the Pitfourie Series.

Please share a little bit about your current release.

When she was eight years old, Helen Clack was
bullied so mercilessly that she was driven to a desperate act. Now she is being
targeted once more, but this time her tormentor’s identity is shrouded in
When her life starts to disintegrate, she
flees home to the wilds of north-east Scotland, and to the one man she knows
can help her – Hector Forbes, the dubiously charismatic Laird of Pitfourie,
with whom she has been hopelessly in love ever since those hellish days in the
school playground, when he was her protector, her rescuer, her eleven-year-old
But is Hector really someone she can trust?
And can anyone protect her from the terrible
secret she’s keeping?

What inspired you to write this book?
be honest, I’m mainly inspired not by anything in the real world but by reading,
by immersing myself in books in which I can fall in love with the characters,
and be desperate to know what happens to them. The characters have to be complicated
and three-dimensional and do interesting/alarming/funny things, but also have
interesting/alarming/funny conversations. Ideally, one of them should contrive
to be murdered. In my writing, I’m trying to create that sort of experience for
other readers.
all the writers who inspire me, Dorothy Dunnett has to be at the top of the
list. I always feel bereft when I finish the Lymond Chronicles for the umpteenth

Excerpt from The Sweetest Poison:
looked up at the tree. There were plenty of pods hanging down from it, like
peapods only skinnier.
many would she need?
when she was helping Daddy with the bales she had asked him, ‘How many laburnum
seeds would someone have to eat before they died?’ and he’d shaken his head and
said, ‘Hel’nie. You mustn’t ever take
seeds from that tree,’ and she’d said, ‘I won’t. But how many would someone have to eat?’ and he’d
shaken his head and said, ‘I don’t know, and I’m not just awful keen to find
wriggled her schoolbag off her back and dropped it down on the grass.
one would see. The byre was between the tree and the kitchen window, and Daddy
had gone up the fields to look at the calfies.
reach the pods she would have to climb up on the fence, but Suzanne had shown
her how to climb on barbed wire. She put one hand on the fence post under the
tree, and one hand on the top wire, and climbed with her bum sticking out to
keep her legs away from the jags. The wires were wobbly but she didn’t fall
off. When she was high enough she let go the hand on the fence post and reached
up and grabbed one of the pods.
was as if the branch didn’t want to let go.
they were little, Suzanne used to say peas were the pea plant’s children, and
the peapod was a coat it had made for them, and when you ate peas you were
eating the children. Even when she was little Helen hadn’t actually believed
that, but now she couldn’t help thinking that the seeds were the tree’s children.
had plenty though.
leant out away from the fence so she could pull better, and the branch
stretched and stretched but then it suddenly let go and flapped back. Helen
grabbed the post.
didn’t fall.
could see the bumps of the seeds inside the pod. There were six.
that be enough?

What exciting story are you working on next?

the moment I’m working on Book 2 in the series: Bad Company.
winter at Pitfourie, and undercover policewoman Claire Castleford arrives from London
to investigate the suspicious death of a colleague – inadequately supplied with
thermal underwear and insufficiently forewarned about certain aspects of the
suspect’s character. She’s falling for the bastard. To add to her problems, she’s
trying to pass herself off as a housekeeper at the domestic goddess end of the
spectrum, but has spent her whole life resisting domestication in all its forms.
not letting that worry her, though.

hard can it be to boil an egg?

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

remember the moment vividly. I was watching TV when the phone rang (this was in
the days of landlines!) and a husky voice introduced herself as one of the
agents at the top of my list (not sure if I should say who), who’d read the opening
chapter of The Sweetest Poison (which was then called Natural Victim) and loved
it! I was so scared and excited I wasn’t able to respond coherently. I babbled
about hoping she wasn’t disappointed with the rest of the book, and her response
was: ‘Even if there are problems, don’t worry, because YOU ARE A WRITER.’ Ironically,
there were problems with the rest of the book, and I ended up putting it
in a drawer for a long time (writer, huh?), until I reworked it and sent it out
again and another agent picked it up… But I’ll never forget that moment, and
will always be grateful for the first agent’s reassurance and encouragement.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do
you do other than write and how do you find time to write?

I’m not lucky enough to write full-time. I need to pay the bills! I work
part-time as a freelance copy editor and am also involved in caring for a family
member. It’s quite hard to find time to write, and days or weeks can go by
without much progress. When I am in writing mode, I find it easiest to be
productive in the mornings. Sometimes it’s hard to get into a scene, but other
times I’m suddenly ‘in the zone’ and seeing the action playing out in my mind’s
eye. It’s a bit like watching a film, but having complete directorial control.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

don’t know about interesting, but I find that bribing myself with online games
works well. ‘Just get to the end of this scene,’ I tell myself, ‘and you can
play a game of Tetris!’

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

intrepid zoologist exploring the Amazon Basin! I did end up studying biology,
but that’s as close as I got. Now I get my zoology kicks from watching birds in
the garden. Not quite the Amazon, but I love getting to know them as individual
characters. Bertie the robin even comes to my hand for food!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

take a look at my writing friends’ stuff:
Lawrie, writer of Tiny Acts of Love (The Sun: ‘funny, poignant and honest’) and
The Last Day I Saw Her (This Chick Reads: ‘No wonder I devoured this book in one
day, everything about it is brilliant’)
McLaren, nature writer extraordinaire:
and I would love to hear from any readers who would like to get in touch via my


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
you for having me!

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11 thoughts on “Interview with mystery author Jane Renshaw

  1. Jane Renshaw says:

    Thanks James. Bernie, the idea for the book was 'brewing' for quite a while – so to answer your question, at least 10 years ago. Thanks for your interest!

  2. Bea LaRocca says:

    Good evening. My question for you today is: Are you able to read or write when it is noisy or do you require peace and quiet as I do?

  3. Jane Renshaw says:

    Hi Bea! To answer your question, I can sort of shut myself off to noise and 'lose' myself in the world of my story, so I don't find noise a problem – unless it takes the form of people talking to me, obviously! But I agree that peace and quiet is nice when you can get it… What do you write?

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