TCL’s Countdown Questions #5: Author Jane Davis.

An Alternative Author Interview

TCL’s Countdown Questions

My fellow blogger Jill Doyle has a lovely thing on her blog called “Five on Friday” where she asks authors five questions that each require five answers. I thought this was really great, mostly because I’ve never done an author interview myself – at least not a good one. I mean, I’ve asked authors for guest posts, but so far, I’ve only given them one question to answer. That’s not really an interview. So, I thought that if I could come up with a set of fun questions to ask authors, maybe I’d do it myself. After quite a bit of thinking, I came up with the following:

  • If you could visit five (5) places you’ve never been, where would you go and why?
  • Name four (4) foods or dishes that you enjoy so much that they’ve practically become part of your personality.
  • There is the past, the present, and the future – if you could choose, which of these three (3) would you prefer to live in, and why?
  • Best and worst – you choose which – name two (2) of either your best moments of your life, worst moments of your life, or one of each.
  • Name one (1) book you’ve read in the past year (or so) that you wish you had written, and why.

This week, I’d like to introduce you to the award-winning author Jane Davis.

Don’t let anyone tell you that indie authors are any less talented than the big name writers putting out their work through high profile publishers, because Jane Davis proves that to be totally wrong. The first of Jane Davis’ novels I read was her 2014 novel “I Stopped Time.” This novel straddled both contemporary and historical fiction, and drew me in completely. That’s what led me to read two of her subsequent novels “An Unknown Woman,” and “Smash all the Windows.” But that wasn’t enough for me, so I went out and bought a few of her earlier works. So far, I’ve read and adored her 2016 novel “My Counterfeit Self,” which quickly became my favorite of her books! (By the way, I think Jane has the absolute most beautiful book cover art I’ve ever seen, bar none! See below.) Enough about me; let’s see how Jane answers my countdown questions!

  • If you could visit five (5) places you’ve never been, where would you go and why?

I’ve made personal commitment not to fly unless there’s no alternative, so I’ve been deliberate about making sure all my choices are in the United Kingdom. I’m a keen walker so I like to think that I know my home country pretty well, but it’s amazing how you get into the habit of falling back on ‘old favourites’ rather than trying somewhere new.

I’ll start with what looks like the most achievable of my goals, Eltham Palace. It’s hard to say why I’ve never been because (a) it’s been on my radar for some time and (b) it’s within easy reach of London. Eltham Palace was Henry VIII’s childhood home. Living so close to Carew Manor, the site of Nonsuch Palace and Hampton Court, I feel an immediate connection with it. However, Eltham Palace is somewhere that is not entirely as it seems. In the 1930’s, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld leased the property, then in a state of neglect, and transformed its interior into an Art Deco lover’s dream.

Art Deco Room
Eltham Palace Art Deco Room!

Another prime example of staying within my comfort zone. I adore North Wales, but don’t usually get past Snowdonia and Anglesey. Only a little further around the coast is Portmeirion, described here as ‘an Italian village in North Wales.’ A must for a person who loves places that are trapped in their own time capsule.

My third choice is a bit of author confession. I’ve written about Northumberland, but I’ve never actually been. And there are so many reasons to go! It has the one of the lowest levels of light pollution in the UK, which makes it one of the best places to study the night sky. I want to walk the walk to Bamburgh Castle that Maggie describes in Smash all the Windows, a kind of retrospective pilgrimage. It’s home to Barter Bookshops. And, of course, puffins!

I want to make it up to Local Hero country. And yes, I know Ferness is fictional – an amalgamation of several different locations – so the best thing to do may be to follow the North coastal road. Just to make sure I don’t miss anything.

My final choice is a bit of a cheat because it takes in so many places along the way, but also a long-held ambition of mine. I’d like to walk the ley line known as the St Michael Alignment, starting in Cornwall and ending in Hopton. It’s the kind of trip that will involve more holiday time than I can justify, but perhaps one day…

  • Name four (4) foods or dishes that you enjoy so much that they’ve practically become part of your personality.

This is a toughie for me as I’m actually in a transitional stage in terms of diet. A couple of years ago my answer would have been fillet steak and dauphinoise potato or a slow-cooked shoulder of lamb, but then Matt and I switched to the World Health Organisation diet. This means that we eat meat no more than once a week, and then only a limited amount. (We don’t miss it half as much as we thought we would.) This has taken some of the things we used to love to eat off the menu. It has also led to some fairly experimental never-to-be-repeated and not-to-be mentioned cookery.

So, can I justify including Thai Green Chicken Curry? Yes, I think I can.

And what about Crispy Duck pancake rolls? Why the hell not?

A term I appear to have coined is ‘breakfast cake’. This is leftover cake or pudding (or occasionally cold caramelised apple crumble) that you eat in lieu of breakfast. Can you tell that I grew up in the era of zero tolerance for food waste and diet replacement meals?

I seem to need quite a lot to eat in the morning and then can forego lunch, but I do quite often have ‘second breakfast’ in honour of Winnie the Pooh. My favourite second breakfast is crumpets. I think they may be a peculiarly English thing. While a croissant can fall short of expectations, a crumpet never disappoints.

Scones_cream_jamI see myself as more of a host than a cook. If you come to dinner at our house, what you will usually be served as a starter is a huge platter of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes (fresh and semi-dried), olives, marinated grilled vegetables, perhaps some of those sweet chilli peppers stuffed with cheese and focaccia with plenty of oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. I am often asked if I am ‘doing that thing’. I tend to call it ‘picky bits.’

  • There is the past, the present, and the future – if you could choose, which of these three (3) would you prefer to live in, and why?

There are decades in the past I could look at think, ‘Then, for the glamour’ (see book choice, below), but to squeeze in a whole lifetime missing wars, plagues, subordination and shacklement?

I’m afraid that, to me, the future seems such an uncertain time-limited thing.

The present is far from perfect, but already I’ve managed to achieve more than I ever thought possible for someone from my background and education, and few of the things I have wasted so much time and energy worrying about have happened. I think I’ll stick with what I know.

  • Best and worst – you choose which – name two (2) of either your best moments of your life, worst moments of your life, or one of each.

This is one of those questions when you don’t want to lie, but the truth is deeply personal and so the detail has to be vague because your story never belongs to you alone.

The worst? I will say that the first time you lose a friend who was your own age is life-changing in so many ways.

The best? A summer camp spent at Fairfield Manor with the girl guides came pretty close to being perfect. The freedom of being away from home, possibly the only year when I didn’t have an older or younger Davis sister with me (no offence, but it is nice to escape once in a while), the exceptionally attractive archery instructor, discovering I was good at physical things after years of being the last to be picked for sports teams, Geno (Dexy’s Midnight Runners) in the charts…

But then so was the first time I ever climbed a mountain. I remember being eighteen, driven by my then boyfriend to Snowdon up through the Black Mountains, which was the most magical landscape I have ever seen. And when he pointed out the peak we were to climb the next day – the highest of them all – saying, “What, we’re going up there?” I remember the burn in my muscles, the way that the body refuses to do something but then seems to accept it has to, and then the elation of standing on top of the world. I recommend it to anyone.

Courtesy of Pixabay
  • Name one (1) book you’ve read in the past year (or so) that you wish you had written, and why.

This one is simple. I don’t need to hesitate. Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott. My goodness, what an achievement. When I see adverts on Facebook that say, ‘I hate to break it to you but you’re wasting your life if you spend months writing a book’ I get so riled, I can’t always think of a sensible arguments to counter such absolute drivel. Now I only need to refer to this book. It represents ten years of commitment, and not a moment of those ten years was wasted. The subject of the book – Truman Capote – is someone I’ve always been fascinated with, but other books I’ve read or films I’ve seen have focused on his relationship with Harper Lee, or the murderer, Perry Smith. The narrator of Swan Song is unidentified, but is clearly one of his ‘swans’, the group of influential and fascinating socialites (CZ Guest, Babe Paley, Marella Agnelli, Slim Keith, Lee Radziwill, Gloria Guiness) he befriended and then – in their opinion – betrayed. The tone is confiding and gossipy, so that you’re drawn deep inside their clique, which means that, spared none of the detail, you get to decide what you think about Truman. And it’s a debut novel!

Thanks, Jane! (I’ve actually climbed Snowdon, but a sudden, heavy fog ruined our view from the summit. Maybe we should try again someday!)

Jane DavisHailed by The Bookseller as ‘One to Watch’, Jane Davis is the author of nine novels (so far), and she is a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors. Jane spent her twenties and the first part of her thirties chasing promotions at work, but when she achieved what she’d set out to do, she discovered that it wasn’t what she wanted after all. It was then that she turned to writing.

Her debut, Half-truths & White Lies, won the Daily Mail First Novel Award 2008. Of her subsequent three novels, Compulsion Reads wrote, ‘Davis is a phenomenal writer, whose ability to create well-rounded characters that are easy to relate to feels effortless’. Her 2015 novel, An Unknown Woman, was Writing Magazine’s Self-published Book of the Year 2016 and was shortlisted for two further awards. In 2019, her last novel, Smash All the Windows won inaugural Selfies Award, sponsored by IngramSpark and run in association with The London Book Fair and Bookollective. Her newest novel At the Stroke of Nine O’clock was released on July 13, 2020!

Jane lives in Carshalton, Surrey with her Formula 1 obsessed, star-gazing, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. When she isn’t writing, you may spot her disappearing up a mountain with a camera in hand. Her favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’.

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16 thoughts on “TCL’s Countdown Questions #5: Author Jane Davis.

  1. What are the odds! This is the first time I’m visiting your blog, and I actually hauled I Stopped Time last week, and am currently reading My Counterfeit Self, which I’m also greatly enjoying. So I’m super curious about this post.

    I have to say, my culinary tastes are quite similar, haha! And I would agree about the past, future and present. Lovely post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a great article, thanks for sharing! I love reading indie authors and I love getting aquatinted with new to me authors. I’ll definitely add some of her work to my to read list!


  3. A very strong yes to breakfast cake (I have even been known to have breakfast trifle) and second breakfast.
    And losing a friend the same age – so difficult to come to terms with.
    Lynn 😀


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