Today’s author interview is with Jill Downie, the author of the new release A Grave Waiting. Jill sits down and tells us about how she came up with the idea for her book, how much she enjoyed her research and whath her new project is.
Caitlyn: Tell us about your book.
Jill: A Grave Waiting is the second mystery in the Moretti/Falla series, set on the Channel Island of Guernsey. In the first book, the intrigue was centred around events that occurred during the Second World War, using the fortifications remaining after the wartime occupation as settings for a movie being shot on the island. This time I wanted to use the island’s role as a tax haven and offshore island, with all the money that has brought with it, as the backdrop for the book and the heart of the mystery.
Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?
Jill: The idea presented itself when I first went back to Guernsey where I had lived, after a long absence, and saw the striking changes this new-found wealth had brought. There is a new stratum of people living there, all associated with the offshore businesses, and the influx of money has given a new gloss and glamour to the already picturesque island scenery and the beautiful centuries-old houses in the capital, St. Peter Port, and around the island. And some great restaurants! And where there is money in the millions and billions, there is often intrigue and, sometimes, murder!
Caitlyn: How did you come up with the title?
Jill: Titles are tricky things. While I was writing A Grave Waiting, I kept thinking of the risks run by two characters in the book, one of whom is my first victim, who lived close to the edge all his life. It was what brought him his success and, ultimately, to an early grave. The French have a saying: Qui risque tout, gagne tout. He who risks everything, wins everything. And that is the gamble risk-takers live for, their life-blood. But it can also get them dead and buried.
Caitlyn: How did you research your book?
Jill: Researching my Moretti/Falla mysteries is the icing on the cake for me, because it is the perfect excuse to go back to this beautiful island where I lived for ten happy years. I have reconnected with old friends, and revisited old haunts. But now there is a plan and a purpose to my visits, so I go with paper, pens, pencils, a laptop, and a camera, and every night I sit down and transfer to the laptop the notes made during the day. Before I arrive, I have already made an outline of what I need to look at, or the people I need to talk to. And I take masses of photos, and not just of the pretty or the picturesque, but of the everyday: shop-fronts and mail boxes, parking lots and pedestrian crossings. I download them every night, and write in a notebook precisely where and when each one was taken. From the experience of old family photos on which nothing has been recorded, and you don’t know who the lady on the left is, and where the heck it was taken, or on what occasion, I know how quickly memory fades and becomes imprecise or incorrect.
Caitlyn: What is your new project?
Jill: My new project is the next Moretti/Falla mystery, the third in the series. The working title is Blood Will Out, and this time it revolves around family ties and the folklore of the island, the superstitions and the stories that go back into the distant past. Guernsey is scattered with menhirs and dolmens, burial mounds and megalithic passage graves believed to be the entrance to other worlds, the kingdom of the fairies. There are witches and werewolves but, as yet, no vampires …..
Jill Downie is the author of A Passionate Pen, awarded the Drummer General’s Award by Richard Bachmann of A Different Drummer Books, and Storming the Castle, which received the Hamilton and Region Arts Council Literary Award for Non-Fiction. Previously, she published five historical novels. Daggers and Men’s Smiles, the first book in the Moretti/Falla series, was published in 2011. She lives in Ancaster, Ontario.
The Markerting Coordinator at Dundurn, lover of books, tea and dancing in the rain.