The Writing Life of: J.S. Strange
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author J.S. Strange, who will be sharing with us detail of his writing life, telling us all about his books ‘Murder on the Rocks‘ and ‘The Art of Murder‘ and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
J.S. Strange is a writer from Wales, UK. He writes murder mystery novels with a gay male lead. The Jordan Jenner Mysteries series are based in Cardiff, with PI Jordan Jenner as the lead.
Whilst not writing, Strange works in TV, and lives at home with his partner and two black cats.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
My dream job as a child was to be a pop star. In some ways, it still is. I always loved the idea of recording music, going on tour and performing live to sell out arenas. Whenever I go to a concert, I look around and think how amazing that feeling must be. I’m actually recording an album now, but have no plans to release it as of yet. And I know it will never be a huge sell out like my childhood dreams said they would be!
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
I always read Roald Dahl novels, and loved stories like Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, etc. I also used to read a serial about a vet set in Africa. I subscribed to a magazine that brought the book out every week.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
It was when I realised people actually wrote for a living. I can’t say what age that was, but when I realised that people wrote books, and that anyone could write books, I just knew that was what I wanted to do.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
My average writing day is hard to tell. I write when I have time, which isn’t often, because of my full time job and shift work. I don’t aim for words. I just write as much as I can without getting mentally exhausted. I like to write in the morning, rather than in the afternoon, because I struggle to stay motivated past a certain point of the day.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
I’ve written a few books. In total, probably about eight. Only four of those have been published. I’m currently writing the third instalment of my murder mystery series.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I sometimes don’t know who the killer is in my murder mystery novels until halfway through. I have a vague idea, but I’m never convinced until the story unfolds as I write.
Concerning your latest book:
Jordan Jenner Mysteries Book One
Publisher – Panther Publishing
Pages – 266
Release Date – 1st March 2019
ISBN 13 – 978-1527235526
Format – ebook, paperback
When PI Jordan Jenner returns to work following the death of his mother, his first case involves a murdered writer…James Fairview has been killed. As a member of a prestigious writing group hosted by bestselling author Joseph Gordon in the heart of Cardiff, Jordan not only has to cope with solving the mystery, but also deal with press attention.
As Jordan investigates, he discovers his mother’s death may not have been so simple. And when another writer is murdered, Jordan realises the killer could strike again…
A murdered writer, a mysterious death, and a group with jealousy at its heart, this is Jenner’s toughest case yet. A cosy murder mystery with a gay male detective, Murder on the Rocks is the first in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
I don’t research often. I mean, I research street names, what’s in the area, and a bit of police procedure, but I’m writing fiction, and focusing on characters and scandals, that I’m not concerned about overwhelming the reader by showing off all of this research I’ve done. I hate reading a book with irrelevant information, just because the author has felt like they had to add it.
But for the research I did, I read crime non-fiction books, emailed a couple of people, and then because I’ve set the books in familiar settings, I can picture the scenes more clearly. I also sometimes use Google maps, or look at businesses websites for any drinks on the menu that the characters may order, if, for example, they’re in a bar.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
It varies because of my shift times, and the times I get to actually sit down and write. I start with an idea and then make my way through it, normally stopping the book half way through two or three times, before finally starting again and sticking with it. I think the first few attempts are my way of telling myself the story, and finding the path to the end.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Murder on the Rocks, the first in my murder mystery series, was conceived from a misheard song lyric. The character in Murder on the Rocks died from poison in his whisky, which was on the rocks. I misheard the song lyric Murder on the Rocks, and thought, that’s the title for the book I’m writing. Book two, out now, The Art of Murder, was a little harder to come to. My mum came up with it, but we all agreed it had to have Murder in it, to keep on brand with the first. Because the second book is about a murdered artist, it was a no-brainer that that should be the next title.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
The lead character of my murder mystery series, Jordan Jenner, is a complex man. He’s gay, and lonely. He doesn’t let people in. He’s too afraid to let people in. He values friendship, but anyone he thinks could be a romantic link to him, he is rude to, or he won’t let get any closer to him. He’s had a disjointed upbringing, after splitting apart from his mother, but he’s also been hurt.
He’s also the type of guy to work people out before letting them get to know him. His love interest in the mystery series is Lloyd, who is a cheeky, sort of lad type, who just wants to have fun and bring Jordan out of his shell.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
Murder on the Rocks went through so many publishers. It got shortlisted for Penguin Random House’s Write Now Live scheme, but didn’t get any further than the top 150. After that, I had about 7 or 8 publishers request the full manuscript. They all said no, until I found Panther Publishing, who loved it and took it on, signing the series up for a few more. In the past, I had self-published, but I knew I didn’t want to self-publish my murder mystery series.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I’m writing book three in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. At the moment, it’s about the murder of a wealthy man. I’ve also just allowed Panther Publishing to re-publish my original self-published works, which are zombie apocalypse novels. The plan is to tweak the first, rewrite the second, and finally write the third. There’s no release date yet, so I don’t feel too pressured. I feel like there is a clean slate for that series, and I hope it gets to a wider audience.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
Invisibility! I would love to be able to go invisible and listen to people’s conversations.
2) Do you have any pets?
I have two black cats, called Miley and Dolly. They are two, and very troublesome, but extremely friendly and very cheeky. I love those little cats!
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
I have no idea! Although I would actually love to write an autobiography, but I’d need to actually be famous to do that!
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
I would beg for more of a role than just cameo! I’ve wanted to act since forever. I always think if my books get turned into a TV series or film, I would one hundred per cent ask for a role and try and kick start an acting career! I always think I’d like to play the part of Lloyd or Mark in the Jordan Jenner Mysteries series. I’d rather someone else play Jordan himself. I’d want to see him come to life by someone else.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Definitely America! I actually run a travel blog and Instagram, so I’m always looking for new holiday destinations.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
‘Finish the third book, or else.’
I would like to say a big thank you to J.S. Strange for sharing with us details of his writing life and for a wonderful interview.