Cut Adrift by Jane Jesmond
Risk everything, trust no one.
Jen Shaw is climbing in the mountains near Alajar, Spain. And it’s nothing to do with the fact that an old acquaintance suggested that she meet him there…
But when things don’t go as planned and her brother calls to voice concerns over the whereabouts of their mother, Morwenna, Jen finds herself travelling to a refugee camp on the south coast of Malta.
Free-spirited and unpredictable as ever, Morwenna is working with a small NGO, helping her Libyan friend, Nahla, seek asylum for her family. Jen is instantly out of her depth, surrounded by stories of unimaginable suffering and increasing tensions within the camp.
Within hours of Jen’s arrival, Nahla is killed in suspicious circumstances, and Jen and Morwenna find themselves responsible for the safety of her daughters. But what if the safest option is to leave on a smuggler’s boat?
The second instalment in the action-packed, ‘pulse-pounding’ Jen Shaw series, following Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month On the Edge.
Jane Jesmond writes psychological suspense, thrillers and mysteries
Her debut novel, On The Edge, the first in a series featuring dynamic, daredevil protagonist Jen Shaw was a Sunday Times Crime Fiction best book. The second in the series, Cut Adrift, was The Times Thriller Book of the Month and The Sunday Times Crime Book of the Month. Her latest novel, Her, a psychological thriller will be published in May 2023.
Although she loves writing (and reading) thrillers and mysteries, her real life is very quiet and unexciting. Dead bodies and danger are not a feature! She lives by the sea in the northwest tip of France with a husband and a cat and enjoys coastal walks and village life.
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You can find Jane:
On Twitter – @AuthorJJesmond
On Facebook – www.facebook.com/JaneJesmondAuthor
On Instagram – www.Instagram.com/authorjanejesmond
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey, please?
It was long and convoluted!
I had been writing for ten years and finished four books by the time On The Edge, the first in the Jen Shaw series, was published in October 2021. During those ten years, I had a lot of near misses: a couple of offers of publication that fell through; I signed with an agent and two years later realised the relationship wasn’t working and left the agent; and a lot of interest in my books that never quite came to anything. There were moments that were very difficult but I love writing and I always knew I’d carry on even if I was never published. After I left my first agent, I revisited On The Edge, revising and editing once again, and was cautiously thrilled when Verve expressed interest. The interest became a two book contract for On The Edge and Cut Adrift. When they were selected by The Sunday Times and The Times as Books of the Month, it was a wonderful moment!
Do you have a soundtrack that you listen to when you are writing?
I like complete silence when I’m writing. Mostly I hear the words before I write them and – much as I love music the rest of the time – it disrupts the flow. I’m very conscious of the rhythm of the sentences and sometimes I reject a word because its stress or its number of syllables don’t please me!
How do you decide who your books are dedicated to?
So far I have dedicated my books to people I love – members of my family and close friends but in no particular order! I dedicated my first book to my dad because he died just before it was published but had followed its progress with great excitement. But there’s been no reason why I’ve chosen a particular book for a particular person. Giving the book to the person I’ve dedicated it to and watching their face as they come across the dedication is one of the great pleasures of being published!
What was the inspiration behind your latest release?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single inspiration because my books take shape from a mixture of ideas swirling around in my head. For Cut Adrift, I knew that refugees and homelessness would feature. I wanted to explore what it meant to be cut off from the life you were born into. Many of the characters in Cut Adrift, whether they are refugees or not, share a certain rootlessness. Sometimes the inspiration can be the idea for an action sequence. A dangerous and stormy sea voyage was always going to be part of Cut Adrift. As was Malta. It’s a fascinating place because of its position halfway between Africa and Europe and its incredible history.
Do you find it hard to let your characters go when you finish writing the book?
Yes! When I’m writing or editing a book, I spend so much time with my characters that they feel real to me. They’re always in the back of my mind and I get to know them better than I do almost anyone else as I work out how they’ll react to situations and why they act like they do. Although one of the great advantages of writing a series is that you can revisit the characters in the next book. It’s going to be very difficult for me when the time comes to say goodbye to Jen Shaw – and her mother too.
What was your favourite read of 2022?
My favourite read of 2022 was Fear and Lovely by Anjana Appachana. I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy as it was actually published in 2023! It’s a wonderful book – sad and funny and beautiful. The characters leapt off the page and straight into my head and some part of me still believes Malika and her mothers are getting on with their lives in New Delhi.
Who is your favourite author?
I’m not sure I can answer this, as I have so many favourite authors. Reading has been my passion since I first worked out that C A T spelt cat and from that moment on my schoolfriends used to hide their books when I went round to play to stop me from spending the whole time reading. If you put a gun to my head, I’d say Dorothy Dunnett. Her “Lymond” and “Niccolo” historical series are a mesmerising combination of adventure, mystery and romance that enthral me each time I read them.
Was there a point in your life that a book helped you get through, and which one?
There are times when we all need a break from real life and reading is a wonderful escape. Georgette Heyer helped me get through the months of the Covid Pandemic when, like everybody else, we were stuck at home and worried sick about friends and family. I reread my way through everything she wrote. Even though I know the stories by heart, they still grab me every time I read them and let me spend a few hours in their world where no matter how difficult life is, it always ends happily. I wish someone would uncover a new book by her!
Is there anyone that you would like to mention and thank for their support of your writing?
Three people. My sister has been the first person to read anything I’ve written and she’s always managed to be positive even in the early days when I was learning to write. In an emergency, when I’ve lost the ability to see my writing clearly, she’ll often put everything aside for a couple of days to read something for me. I owe a lot to Debi Alper, writer and writing tutor, who has taught me a huge amount as well as always being around to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of rejection. My editor at Verve, Jenna Gordon, whose insight and enthusiasm has made my books so much better!
If you had the power to give everyone in the world one book, what would it be and why?
I’m going to cheat a little with this answer because I don’t believe there’s any one book that’s right for everybody. Even the most wonderful books are disliked by a few readers. So I’d like to give everyone in the world a token for the book of their choice – in any format: print, ebook or audiobook. And can I just jam in a word in support of libraries. The existence of libraries means that the majority of the people in this country do have the opportunity to read most books. My family had very little money when I was growing up but I was lucky enough to live opposite our local library so I could feed my reading addiction. Libraries are worth fighting for.
If you could go for a cuppa with one of your characters, which one would you pick and why?
Definitely one of the perpetrators of evil – so I can’t give you any names as it would be a spoiler! I’m fascinated by what has made them into the people they are and I want to find out more.
What are you working on now?
I’m just finishing the edits for A Quiet Contagion which is out in November. It’s a bit of a departure for me as it’s a standalone book about the uncovering of a sixty-year-old tragedy with repercussions down the decades to present day. I can’t wait for readers to get their hands on it. And after that I’m going to plunge back into adventures with Jen Shaw and write Book 3 of the series.
Lastly, do you have any questions for your readers?
Something I always want to know: Who is your favourite fictional character and why?
Thank you so much, Jane, for taking the time to be on my blog today. I am very grateful that you stopped by.
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