Friday 9 February 2018

Blog Tour: Q & A With Jane Lythell Author of Behind Her Back

Today is my stop on the Behind Her back blog tour. Author Jane Lythell has very kindly stopped by the blog today to answer my burning questions!

Buy links and author information are further down, here's what the book is all about...

In a TV station run by men, how do the women make themselves heard?
Liz Lyon is a television producer at StoryWorld, the UK's favourite morning show. Her job is stressful and demanding, but she is determined to show her teenage daughter that women can succeed.
Then a new female colleague joins the station. In this predatory climate of toxic masculinity Liz and Lori should be helping each other. But when Lori starts secretly building her power base with the bosses, Liz is desperate to know what's going on behind her back...

You can click here to order your copy now. But on with the questions...

1. First question-bit of a cliché - how did you get into writing?
I always wanted to write but I had a large mortgage and was on my own with a small
daughter. This meant I had to secure high paying jobs for 25 years. Had my
mortgage been smaller I would have been able to start writing earlier. I freed myself
in May 2011 which was when I started to write in earnest.

2. Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?
Now I am able to write full time.
Before 2011 I would squeeze in writing time around the margins of my very full-on
jobs. This was journals and short stories which no-one ever saw. But I did start to
draft The Lie of You and went on an Arvon Foundation week which helped me stay
focused on it.
My first fictional creation was when I was 7 or 8. I wrote a story for my younger sister
about Sally Dumpling, a fairy with curves who lived in a yellow rose and her best
friend was a robin.

3. Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer?
Not really. I read widely and am drawn to character driven books and those which
have a strong sense of place like Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News. In my novels I
prefer to write in the First Person as it creates intensity.

4. How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?
All writers are magpies and we pull together inspiration from the people we know, the
things we have overheard and our own experiences. But we transform these so that
they become something different.
I think a lot about my characters before I start writing. I have to know what they look
like, what they love to eat and do and also what they fear in life. I draft a page for the
main characters with these details.

5. What was the inspiration for behind Behind Her Back?
My own life! I had been a TV producer and a single parent mum. I had felt horribly
conflicted by the pressures of trying to be a good mum and working in television. I
wanted to capture this turmoil so I created Liz Lyon. She is not me but she has a lot
of my feelings.

6. What is your writing process-do you map it out first? Write in chronological order?
I’m now writing my fifth book and have become more organised with each one. My
debut The Lie of You grew organically and was not planned out in advance. Now I do
a detailed treatment. I do not write in strict chronological order. I write scenes as they
occur to me. I know the beginning and the end but the middle of the novel emerges
as I write. This is an exciting process when it goes well.

7 How much of you is reflected in your writing?
 A lot. As I said above the two StoryWorld books (Woman of the Hour and Behind
Her Back) drew inspiration from my experience of being a working mum at a TV
station. However I never worked for a man like Julius Jones!
After The Storm charts a sail on an old wooden boat from Belize City to the island of
Roatan in the Caribbean Sea. I did that very same sail and kept a journal at the time,
but the four characters on the boat are fictional.

8. How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?
I read them with great interest and sometimes a theme emerges in the reviews and I
learn from this. I am hugely grateful to readers and book bloggers for taking the time
to review my novels. You have to accept that there will be 1* and 2* reviews as well
as 5* ones.

9. Are friends and family supportive of your writing? 
Very; especially my partner Barry who worked as a TV script writer for 30 years. He
gives me masterly feedback. My daughter Amelia works in fashion and she checks
anything I write that relates to fashion. My agent Gaia Banks is enormously
supportive, a true champion.

10. How do you feel leading up to your publication day?
A mixture of excitement and trepidation. Most writers feel self-doubt at times.
Holding the physical book in your hand and seeing it in bookshops is a wonderful
feeling that stays fresh.

11. Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?
When I’m asked which writer influenced me the most I would have to say it is not a
writer but a film director: Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense. Film has been
very important in my life as I studied for a PHD in film theory at the Slade School of
Fine Art and worked at the British Film Institute. I didn't complete my thesis but my
study of cinema strongly influenced how I write scenes.
My favourite writers are Annie Proulx, Charles Dickens and John le Carre.

12. Finally...what are you working on right now?
I’m working on my fifth novel which is back in psychological thriller territory. This one
is entirely fictional. I feel I have written out the aspects of my life I wanted to explore
autobiographically in the other books. I am greatly enjoying letting my imagination fly.

Jane Lythell worked as a TV producer and commissioning editor before becoming Deputy Director of the BFI and Chief Executive of BAFTA (as Jane Clarke). She experienced first-hand the sexual and power politics of the TV industry which have hit the headlines recently.

This is her fourth novel, and the second title in the StoryWorld series. Jane lives in Brighton.

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