Today I am pleased to welcome author, Juliet B Madison. It’s not her real name, but if I reveal her true identity I might well end up wearing a toe tag. Juliet is here to talk about her soon-to-be released novel, hard-boiled police procedural thriller Second Chances. And, she’s going to introduce us to her rather nice detective hero Detective Inspector Frank Lyle.
Tricia: What made you decide to write crime fiction?
Juliet: I have read so much of it over the years and I love the detectives and how their characters and personality traits impact on the investigation, often hindering it when they get obsessive about getting their man (or woman).
Tricia: When and how did you come up with the idea for Second Chances?
Juliet: About six years ago I had a vague idea for a cold case story where the detective on the re-opened investigation turned out to be a reincarnation of the original murder victim. I was going to pursue it as a paranormal crime thriller but I quickly dropped that, realising I would have enough to do with working through the crime. I did carry on the reincarnation aspect in a sense though because one of my detectives is a Hindu so of course he believes in that.
Tricia: One thing I’m intrigued by is the fact that you have chosen to set Second Chances in the 1980s rather than the early 21st century. Why is this?
Juliet: There is a good reason for that decision, Tricia. In 1982 DNA sampling and profiling did not exist so samples obtained from people suspected of sex crimes could not be exactly matched. This meant that mistakes could be made whereas today semen samples can be compared to ones already on file and the margin of error is considerably reduced, especially if someone has previously been arrested for a sex crime. Even in 1987, the year when part 2 takes place, DNA profiling is very much in its infancy.
Tricia: Can you describe your main character, DI Frank Lyle in five words?
Juliet: Humane, compassionate, dedicated, thorough and gorgeous. You can find out more about him on my blog post The Frank Lyle file: http://julietmadisoncrimeauthor.wordpress.com/the-frank-lyle-file/
Tricia: Can you tell us a bit about DI Lyle’s personal circumstances?
Juliet: Lyle is divorced with an extremely embittered ex wife, Sarah, who got fed up coming second to the job. They have a ten year old son, James, whom Lyle would like to see more of. He also has a step-son called Jez, Sarah’s son from her previous marriage, (she was widowed) but Jez and Lyle don’t get on.
Tricia: From what I’ve read, Lyle seems to be the type of guy women would fall for. Is there any romance on the horizon?
Juliet: Wait and see (laughs). There is a bit of a will they-won’t they scenario between him and WPC Jayseera “Janet” Lynch. Lynch is an Indian widow who joined the police after her English cop husband was fatally shot in a raid. She isn’t a fully practising Hindu although she does embrace some aspects of Hinduism, such as not eating meat or fish and believing in karma and reincarnation. I am lucky to have my good friend, Malika Gandhi, on hand to answer my endless questions about Hinduism.
Tricia: When Second Chances is completed will you self-publish?
Juliet: I most probably will because I will retain control although I am putting together a submission for Wild Wolf who publish my friend, Simon Swift’s Errol Black thrillers so we shall see.
Tricia: I understand Second Chances has had a so far so good reception in the Authonomy Writer’s community?
Juliet: Yes, I deliberated for some time about putting it on there because I did not want to get caught up in the site’s politics and the mad desk scramble but in the end I posted the first ten chapters.
Tricia: What do you think makes Second Chances different from other books in the crime genre?
Juliet: I think it’s because the story is told in the first person from varying POVs owing to whether it’s within their experience or not. Some authors look down their noses at books written with a first person POV but Jane Eyre (although not a crime novel) did rather well as did Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, told from the POV of Max de Winter’s second wife and we never even find out her first name. Most of the chapters in Part 1 are told from DI Lyle’s POV although DS Desai does narrate a couple of chapters outside Lyle’s experience, as does WPC Lynch. Part 2 will be set five years later in 1987 and told mainly from the POV of newly promoted DI Simon Ward, who is heading up his first murder investigation. There will be understandable tension between Ward and Lyle but that is all I’m saying for now.
Tricia: Why is the book in two parts when surely Lyle gets his man?
Juliet: I will have to be really careful how I answer this so I don’t give anything away but let’s just say that, after the suspect enters his Not Guilty plea, things go horribly wrong so will have consequences for Lyle, both personally and professionally. Part 2 at its core is about Lyle learning to live with these consequences.
Tricia: What can you tell us about DI Ward?
Juliet: Not a lot as yet. He’s in his mid twenties and ambitious. He doesn’t have kids and lives with his partner, Diane, who has Type 1 (Insulin Dependent) Diabetes. That is something I have nearly 34 years personal experience of so rest assured those parts will definitely be accurate in terms of my life experience.
Tricia: What advice would you give someone thinking about writing a crime novel?
Juliet: Make sure you get the legal details right especially when writing about the UK. England and Wales are pretty similar but in Scotland they have different laws and formalities. A lot of British crime novels are set in Scotland, books by writers such as Ian Rankin and Stuart MacBride. In Scotland they have 13 people on a jury and there is a third verdict of Not Proven which comes between the traditional Guilty or Not Guilty verdicts and is specific to Scottish law.
Tricia: What is the best advice you have personally received on writing in this genre?
Juliet: Back when Second Chances was just an idea I went to a talk by crime writer Peter Lovesey (author of the marvelous DI Peter Diamond series, set in Bath). At the end of the talk they had a Q&A session. I asked him how you got around not knowing how the law stood on certain things or what the police do in certain circumstances and he told me to just write it because all these details can be tidied up and sorted out later.
For those readers who’d like to learn more, you can catch up with Juliet Madison here: