One of the joys of social media is the fellow authors you bump into. Today I’m delighted to have Jane Holland along to visit my site. A prolific and talented author and poet she has had numerous books published over the years, under various pen names, including around 30 novels. She’s also the only novelist I’ve ever met who is a former snooker professional. Welcome Jane.
Tell me a little bit about yourself as a person?
I can be acerbic and don’t suffer fools gladly, which makes social media a bit of a struggle for me sometimes. (I get on best online with people who have actually met me, so perhaps my waggly eyebrows help offset the acid.)
I have five kids and a grandson, and am nomadic by nature, currently in Devon, though have lived all round the country. Last year I hit my half century.
In my twenties, I was a full-time snooker player, ranked 24th in the world in the women’s game. I got banned for life in 1995 for bringing the game into disrepute, so became a writer instead. I used to be the size of a small fishing vessel, but after spending last year on a low carb diet, my proportions are more whale-like now. The diet continues …
Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?
My mother was a prolific romance and suspense novelist – Charlotte Lamb, author of 150 novels – and I grew up in her shadow. I wrote my first novel aged about 11. It was very short. I later decided against writing, had two kids and took up snooker instead. See above.
After being banned, I got into poetry. Edited a few poetry magazines, won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, published five books of poetry with Bloodaxe and Salt etc. I wrote a novel about women’s snooker with Sceptre in 1999 but it failed to sell and my career faltered.
Then my mother died. I had three more kids. I wrote quite a few dodgy novels for Virgin Books to pay the bills. About ten years later, I hooked up with Luigi Bonomi, my mum’s former agent. Together, we got my career back on the rails. From 2012, I published nine Tudor novels in three years with PRH and Hodder, under other names.
Then I got restless and shifted into thrillers with Girl Number One. I had to self-publish at first, as it was universally rejected. Luckily, I got it to number one in the UK Kindle chart, selling 50,000 copies on my own. Amazon Publishing then approached us with a two-book deal.
My second thriller Lock the Door comes out with Thomas & Mercer this month. Last year, I also published a feel-good Christmas dog novel for adults as Hannah Coates, but that’s another story …
How would you describe your work – its themes and the important things about it?
I’m not sure an author is best placed to comment on their own work. However, I do like writing books with a strong setting and/or atmosphere. You can practically smell some of my books coming (especially the Tudor ones).
If I had to pinpoint a key theme, it would be betrayal. I’m a loyal person, and take betrayal very seriously. There must be something all my books have in common though, as I have a small number of die-hard fans who have followed me through most of my pen-names, regardless of genre. Which is a comfort in dark times.
Tell me about your current book – what is it about and what makes it a great read?
My new book is Lock the Door, out January 10th. It’s a tense and twisty baby abduction story, where the baby has a life-threatening condition that requires constant medication. So as soon as Harry goes missing, the clock starts ticking on his life … But who has taken him? And why?
Advance reviews have commented on the complex layering of the story and its page-turning quality, which is very pleasing. I had great fun writing the final chapter. You’ll understand why when you get there …
You’ve achieved a very successful career as a writer with many books in print. What advice would you give to new writers just starting out on the road or those who have not had a book published yet?
Giving advice about writing can be a deeply pernicious thing. Nobody knows anything, deep-down, and fashions can change rapidly. I often disagree with those authors who dispense wisdom about writing as if there is no other way to write. What works for one writer may destroy another. But if someone is floundering, I would say, whatever you do, don’t leave projects unfinished. Even if it’s gone horribly wrong. Never go back and start again, or sit there tinkering for months. Write the whole damn book straight through, and fix it afterwards. Otherwise you’re teaching yourself to fail.
Once you’ve taught yourself to finish, you’ll be better off than all those people who stopped and returned to the beginning. Only once you have a finished novel in hand can you see the whole pattern on the loom. This can apply even after you’ve already published a few books. It’s never too late to fall apart as a writer, I’ve found. But again, all advice is suspect. The best writers are always still learning how to do it.
Where can I buy a copy of your book?
On Amazon, mostly. (Thomas & Mercer are owned by Amazon Publishing.)
Where can we find out more about you?