About Jane Corry:
Jane Corry is a former magazine journalist who spent three years working as the writer-in-residence of a high security prison for men. This often hair-raising experience helped inspire her Sunday Times-bestselling psychological thrillers, My Husband’s Wife, Blood Sisters, The Dead Ex and I Looked Away, which have been published in more than 35 countries. Jane was a tutor in creative writing at Oxford University and is a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and My Weekly magazine.
Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anyone else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swears it’s over now, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.
Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And just for a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. What happens next will change her life forever.
Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.
And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder…
11 Questions with Jane Corry
Syllables of swathi: Hi Jane! I am so honored to welcome you on my blog and really appreciate your time for doing this short chat. Your book had been uplifting and motivating in so many levels and I totally fell in love with the characters in your book. As it was a very thought provoking read, I do have bunch of questions I wanted to ask you.
Writing I Looked Away
SOS: Your new book I Looked Away came is out and a big hit. Could you tell us a bit about its plot and theme please?
Jane Corry: Thank you very much for asking me onto your blog. I LOOKED AWAY is about Ellie, a young granny who made a terrible mistake when she was a child. When she’s older, she makes a similar mistake and is accused of murder. My novel is also told from the viewpoint of Jo, a homeless woman whom Ellie befriends. I can’t give away the twists but the themes include homelessness, divorce, that intense love between grandparents and grandchildren and also redemption.
SOS: The chapters in I Looked Away shifts between the two characters Ellie and Jo, revealing their present and past. How do you manage to bridge these chapters and structure them in such a way without confusing your readers as well as keeping the originality of the characters intact?
JC: This is a very good question. I make sure that I write one chapter a day so that I am either in Ellie‘s head or Jo’s. I couldn’t write both in one day. It would be like being two people at the same time! I always have Jo or Ellie’s name at the top of the chapter to remind the reader whose point of view it is. I try to make their characters completely different through dialogue and mannerisms as well as appearance. They also have different challenges to face. When I’ve finished, I read each strand from beginning to end to make sure it’s consistent. So I went through all the ‘Ellie chapters’ first and then all the ‘Jo chapters’. I was so excited when it reached number 3 in the best-seller list! Thank you to everyone who bought it.
SOS: One of the characters suffers an abusive childhood while the other has a cheating spouse whom she decides to ‘keep a blind eye’ in order to hold her family together. What is your personal take on this matter? How’d you advice the young women of today’s world to face similar issues?
JC: This is a real minefield. My personal view has changed over the years. I used to think I’d never put up with infidelity. But now I can also see why someone might try to cope with it in order to keep the family together. (An aunt of mine swore by this approach.) At the same time, I think we are much more honest with ourselves than previous generations were. If we aren’t, it can lead to huge guilt. I would just advise young women to be true to themselves. If someone doesn’t feel right, think carefully before committing yourself. The right person is out there somewhere. But it’s hard to lay down ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ rules for fidelity. Everyone is different.
SOS: I loved the chapters where Ellie narrates her childhood with such innocence and purity. Did you draw any of those from your own life experiences?
JC: Ellie is me up to a point. I was a very innocent child. Part of me still is. She is also anxious just as I was. My mother had a terrible accident when I was five. It happened in front of me and we nearly lost her. That sense of foreboding and fear of loss will be with me for the rest of my life. On a happier note, my grandmother also lived with us just as Ellie’s step-gran did with her. I adored her. But she was quite naughty!
SOS: What was the hardest scene to write in I Looked Away?
JC: The hardest scene was the swimming pool. I wanted to create that sense of tragedy and disbelief without being mawkish. I tried to do this by creating tension so the reader knew something was going to happen all through the book.
SOS: Issues like mental health, depression, prison sentence, homelessness are displayed on your female characters. Surely you’d have done your research to write such sensitive topics with elegance. Could you tell us about your experience?
JC: Yes – I have experience of all these, sometimes from a personal point of view and sometimes through research. When I was a single mother, I worked as a writer in residence of a high security male prison for two days a week over three years. So I came across all these issues. I have also helped with a local charity to rehouse people on the streets. I truly believe that mental health is a subject which affects most of us. Life is so busy and complicated. It creates terrible stresses and strains. But there are things we can do to cope. I find that exercise and faith helps. I’ve also been very moved by the number of messages I’ve had from people who say that I LOOKED AWAY helped them realise they weren’t alone.
SOS: I noticed a lot of similarities between the two female leads in the book – especially their constant struggle to fight through obstacles and stay strong, without the support of family or friends. What is your inspiration behind creating such strong characters?
JC: I like strong female characters. I have a sign in my kitchen that says “ A woman is like a teabag. You only know how strong she is when you put her in hot water.’ I was a single mother for nearly four years. It was tough. But I learnt a lot about myself. I did things that I never thought I could. So I suppose my inspiration is partly personal.
SOS: What is your favorite fictional genre to read? Tell us about a book you’ve read and loved recently.
JC: I try to read outside my genre. I’ve actually started reading non-fiction which I never used to. I’ve just finished reading a book called “Somerset and all the Maughams’. My mother, who died years ago, always told me that I was related to Robin Maugham and to his uncle Somerset Maugham by marriage. But I didn’t know how. Then recently I came across a lovely distant cousin who filled in the gaps. I found this fascinating. My grown up sons write and my daughter is very creative. My little granddaughter tells the most amazing stories. It’s lovely to know it’s in the genes. It makes up for not being able to do maths.
SOS: Who is your personal favorite author in the Women’s Fiction genre? Could you recommend some books to your fans?
JC: One of my personal favourite authors in women’s fiction is Maggie O’Farrell. I particularly like her early books. AFTER YOU’D GONE still haunts me even though I read it years ago.
SOS: Tell us about your hobbies. Do you have pets? What’s your favorite TV Show?
JC: I never used to be sporty but when I moved to the coast with my second husband, I began to jog and also swim in a wet suit. I go down to the sea every morning for about six months of the year along with a friend for safety. We have a dog and I love walking him. One of my favourite current favourite TV thrillers is ‘The Capture’ . My husband and I also enjoy THE GOOD FIGHT.
What’s next for Jane
SOS: What are you working on now? When can we expect to read your next title?
JC: I’ve just finished next year’s novel although it’s still in the editing stage. It’s about a woman who does the wrong thing and tries to make things right. I wanted to explore why a woman might go against everything she’s always believed in – even though it jeopardises the family. The title hasn’t been released yet but I’ll let you know when it’s confirmed! It’s being published by Penguin Viking next summer.
Thank you once more for asking me to write for you. I do hope that readers will follow me on Twitter @janecorryauthor. I’m also on Instagram and Facebook.