Jacquie Walton was born in Oxford. She began her working life as a secretary but left to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. Here she tells us what drew her to crime writing, what it’s like working under different pseudonyms and why she loves her characters.
What drew you to writing Crime Fiction?
I’ve always read crime novels for preference, right from my early teens. Like most, I started off with Agatha Christie, but soon discovered all the greats from the classic British era – Dorothy L. Sayers, Patricia Wentworth, Margery Allingham et al. And now we have all the great modern thriller/crime writers, like Lee Child, Harlan Coben and Robert Crais. So it was only natural for me to want to write crime.
What do you think is required for a great story to work?
I’ve always liked pace in my reading, and so I try to keep all my novels, be they romance, crime or classic whodunits, really zipping along. I also think a strong central character is absolutely essential. And my favourite character (if I really had to choose one) would be Jenny Starling, with Hillary Greene running a close second. I like Jenny’s humour, competence and humanity, and I really admire Hillary’s strength and intelligence mixed with human fallibility.
You’ve done work under numerous pseudonyms. How is it writing as different people?
I chose my pseudonyms from family members names – thus I have a niece called Maxine and a nephew called Barry (my pen name for romances) another set of the same called Faith and Martin (the Hillary Greene series) and my grandmothers’ maiden names of (Alice) Joyce and (Winifred) Cato for the Jenny Starling series. But all three genres are very different, and I don’t find it all confusing juggling all three. I enjoy writing them all – but the classic whodunits with Jenny Starling are both the most difficult to plot and write, but also, I find, the most enjoyable.
Your Hillary Greene series is set in Oxford. Why did you choose this particular location for this crime series?
I set the Hillary Greene series in Oxford because I’ve lived within twenty miles of the city for all my life, and it’s the only city I know! Plus, I don’t see why Morse should have had all the fun and pleasure of solving crimes within sight of the dreaming spires.
Whilst I am very glad that a lot of my books are going out in ebook format, I don’t own a device that would allow me to ever read them that way, and being a total Luddite when it comes to modern technology, I doubt I ever shall. I think I will always prefer to have the real thing in my hand.
You’ve written romance and crime fiction – which do you find more enjoyable and which do you read in your spare time?
I enjoyed writing the bigger, more glamorous and action-packed romances that really weren’t suitable for the classic Mills & Boon genre, and whilst they were fun to write, (sexy scenes included!) I prefer to stick to crime nowadays. I never read romance in my spare time, only crime – but not the gory or grisly forensic/serial killer type. I prefer escapism in my reading literature.
What do you love to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I have a dog that needs walking a lot, and living in some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (I’m on the edge of the Cotswolds) walking and wildlife watching are my main pastimes.
What can we expect from you in the future?
In the future, I would certainly like to concentrate more on classic whodunits – maybe do a few other titles for the Jenny Starling series, and maybe even create a second character and series, but still keeping to the classic country-house, cosy, twisting-plot, red-herring formula that I know so many readers like as much as I do. I think the ever-popular television series of Agatha Christie and Midsomer Murders-type programmes show just how much-loved they are.
Jacquie Walton writes under the pseudonyms Joyce Cato, Maxine Barry and Faith Martin. Her books can be found on the Robert Hale Ltd website and many of her ebooks – including Beside a Narrow Stream and By a Narrow Margin by Faith Martin – are available to buy at all good ebook retailers.
Out now: A Narrow Return by Faith Martin
Coming soon: Dying for a Cruise by Joyce Cato (available to pre-order now)