One of the things I love about blogging is the fab people you “meet”, and today it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Jackie Kabler. The Deadline is the second book in the Cora Baxter mysteries, a series of murder mysteries set in a television newsroom, to be published on 20th October by Accent Press, and available in paperback, Kindle or audiobook format. I’m really looking forward to reading and reviewing it in January (I know, I know… but I just couldn’t squeeze it in any sooner!). Here’s the story:
When TV reporter Cora Baxter attends the scene of a murder in a London park, she’s horrified to discover the victim is someone she knows – and devastated when one of her best friends is charged with the crime. With seemingly solid evidence, the police investigation team – reluctantly led by Cora’s boyfriend DCI Adam Bradberry – believe the case is closed.
Suddenly the fun-filled life of Cora and her eccentric camera crew takes a darker turn. Has somebody framed their friend? Does the answer lie not in London, but in New York? What connection could a long-lost relative have with the case? And can Cora find out the truth before the trial begins? Cora Baxter is back – and this time, she’s facing the most important deadline of her career.
I’m delighted Jackie agreed to join me here on Being Anne to tell me more…
Jackie, welcome to Being Anne. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hi Anne, thanks so much for having me! I’m currently a relatively new author and a presenter on TV shopping channel QVC. I’m a journalist by trade though, and I spent 20 years as a newspaper and TV news reporter, including nearly a decade on GMTV. I live in Gloucestershire with my husband, who is a GP.
So, it’s almost publication time for the second of your Cora Baxter series, The Deadline. It’s fairly plain where the ideas came from, but why did you choose to write crime?
Yes, the books are very much based on my TV news career – Cora is a reporter on a breakfast TV show. As a reporter, I was always fascinated by crime – I absolutely loved covering court cases, and actually worked as a crime reporter for a time when I was in regional TV. Then when I joined GMTV, and later for BBC and ITV news, I ended up covering some very high profile murders. When I began to write, at first I tried writing romantic comedy, but something was missing. I suddenly thought, you’ve always been interested in crime, you read mostly crime, why on earth aren’t you writing it? So I did!
I won’t ask who the character of Alice Lomas in the first book was based on (!), but have any of your former colleagues recognised themselves?
Haha, my lips are sealed – Alice wasn’t very nice, was she? But yes, they have. Cora’s camera crew in the books are based on a number of cameramen, soundmen and engineers I used to work with. I have mixed up their character traits, but the guys still recognised themselves and I think (hope!) they were quite pleased! I’ve also had many messages saying “I remember being called out on that story!” and “I remember when we got asked to do that!”, as most of the news stories Cora works on in the books are based on stories my crew and I covered over the years.
And how much of your younger self is there in Cora?
Only a bit. She drinks Earl Grey tea like I do, she has a solid group of close friends like I do and her working life is exactly like mine was for many years. However, her love life is a lot more exciting than mine ever was!
Although I know there will be a series of three, are the books entirely readable as standalone stories?
Very much so, yes. It’s a bit like Midsomer Murders – the same core cast of characters in each book but a completely new story and murder. There are threads that continue through each book but you don’t have to have read the first to enjoy the second as anything important is explained.
And who do you think will enjoy them? Are they books that will appeal to the hard-core crime reader?
No, I don’t think so. These are definitely more “cosy” crime, combined with a little humour and romance. What was really nice after my first book The Dead Dog Day came out was that several people told me that they didn’t normally read or enjoy crime, but that they had loved the book. When it was reviewed by the Irish Times, they described my style as “a mix of several genres…the novel centres on finding the culprit, with some funny adventures and a love story thrown in” which I think summed it up perfectly. My new book is a little darker than the first though, although there are still some humorous moments.
As a former journalist, how difficult was the transition to fiction? Was writing fiction something you’d always wanted to do?
I’d always been an avid reader, but I hadn’t really thought about writing myself until I was working for GMTV. It was a tough job which I adored at first but after eight years or so on the road as a reporter I had stopped enjoying it so much. I took up writing almost as an escape from my working life, something I could do in hotel rooms when I was away from home, and then realised I really loved it. Novel writing was totally different from writing news reports though, and I didn’t have time to go to any sort of creative writing classes or anything, so I just bought a few “How to Write a Novel” books, read them and then got stuck in!
And did your media background help or hinder the path to publication?
In terms of getting a publishing deal, I don’t think it helped at all – people often think that if you’re on telly you get offered a deal on the spot, but I had dozens and dozens of rejections from agents and publishers along the way, just like everyone else does. I think it helped afterwards though, in helping to promote the book. As a journalist, I know how to write a good press release!
How do you manage to fit your writing around your busy life? What does a typical writing day look like?
I live in Gloucestershire and work in London, and work four long days a week, so on work days there just isn’t any time to write. On my three days off, I try to fit in writing around the rest of my life. If I’m devoting a whole day to it, I will start first thing in the morning, take a break for some fresh air at lunchtime (maybe with a quick potter round the garden) and then work through to about 4pm. I can’t write in the evening – I’m a real early bird, and will happily get up at 5am to get things done, but after 6pm I’m not good for much!
And what writers do you particularly admire? If someone said your writing reminds me of, who would you like them to mention?
Ooh, such a good question! I hugely admire crime writers like Ian Rankin and Tess Gerritsen, who can create gripping storylines but also wonderful recurring characters who we want to meet again and again. I don’t write like them, but if somebody told me they wanted to meet my characters over and over again, like they do with Rankin’s Inspector Rebus and Gerritsen’s Jane Rizzoli, I’d be thrilled to bits.
And book three now underway?
It certainly is! I have a May 1st deadline for it, with publication set for around November 2017. It’s the third Cora Baxter book and it’s called The Development. That’s all I can tell you for now!
Jackie, thank you – wishing you every success with this one, and looking forward to reading and reviewing…