Discovering we share a love of Earl Grey tea instantly endeared Jackie Kabler to me. I set about learning more about this glam debut novelist (thinking, shallowly, that maybe drinking more Earl Grey might improve my skin …). Then I discovered she is a mad walker (and I do mean mad!). Hmm. On with the interview…
Welcome Jackie. Why don’t you start by telling us more about yourself, and what inspired this book?
I worked as a news reporter, in both newspapers and TV, for more than twenty years. During that time I covered so many incredible and bizarre stories, and met such interesting people, that I really felt I wanted to write about them in some way. So I set my first novel The Dead Dog Day in a television newsroom, and made the heroine, Cora Baxter, a reporter. All of the people in her life are very much based on people I knew, as are the stories she covers during the novel.
So the road to publication was strewn with roses and you were snapped up instantly?
I wish! I was lucky enough to sign a three-book deal with the fabulous Accent Press in 2014, and The Dead Dog Day is my first novel, released last October. But it was a long haul! I started writing the book about six years before it finally got published, and initially it was just a rom-com, with no murder mystery element. I wasn’t entirely happy with it but started sending it out to agents and publishers anyway. I got zero interest, and became so disheartened I put the manuscript away and sort of forgot about it for several years. Then one day I suddenly decided to drag it out again and see if I could resurrect it. I love crime fiction, so I thought I might as well pop a murder into it and see what happened. I finally finished it, and started sending it out again. This time, although I still got some rejections, there was a sudden flurry of interest, and one crazy week I suddenly found myself with an agent and offers from three different publishing companies. I’m still pinching myself!
Exciting when it finally happens, isn’t it? Tell me – do you see yourself in any of the characters?
Cora Baxter definitely has elements of (a much younger!) me. She’s a TV news reporter, as I was, drinks Earl Grey tea like I do, and like me loves hanging out with her camera crew and friends. But she has a MUCH more interesting and erratic love life than I ever had!
It’s all sounding very promising. I’d better put it on my TBR list at once. So, with a three-book deal, you’ll be hard at work on a sequel?
Yes – I’m working on book two of the Cora Baxter Mystery series. My editor wants it by April, and I’m a teeny bit behind, but I’ll get there! It’s called The Deadline, and opens with Cora being called out to a murder scene in a London park in the middle of the night. She is horrified to discover that she knows the victim – and then devastated when one of her best friends is charged with the killing. Some of the action in this one takes place in New York, but it’s also set in London and Cheltenham, like The Dead Dog Day was.
With all this writing, do you have any time to read as well?
I work full time as a presenter for QVC in London, and live in Gloucestershire, so I do lots of commuting and don’t have masses of time for hobbies, as much of my spare time has to be spent writing. But I like gardening, and try to exercise as much as I can too. I did ten miles for Breast Cancer Care two years ago and got the bug – last year I did the Moonwalk (a power walking marathon that takes place in London every year, through the night), and this year the challenge has got even bigger. I’m doing the South Coast Challenge, a 100km power walking challenge. That’s basically two and a half marathons non-stop – it’s described as a ‘sleep deprivation and endurance challenge’ and will take 24-30 hours, starting on a Saturday morning and walking all day and all night, finishing sometime on the Sunday. Yes, I must be mad! It’s all for charity though, and all the training in the run up to it will mean I can be guilt-free when I eat cake as I sit at my laptop and write. I do like a nice bit of cake…
Sounds like fun … perhaps. You must put the Caledonian Challenge on your list for next year. Jackie, this all sounds amazing, I can’t wait to read your book – and thanks very much for guesting with me today!
When your Monday morning begins with a dead dog and ends with a dead boss, you know it’s going to be one of those days. And breakfast TV reporter Cora Baxter has already had the weekend from hell, after the man she’d planned a fabulous future with unceremoniously dumped her. Now Cora’s much-hated boss has been murdered – the list of suspects isn’t exactly short, but as the enquiry continues the trail leads frighteningly close to home. Why is Cora’s rival, glamorous, bitchy newsreader Alice Lomas, so devastated by their boss’s death? What dark secrets are Cora’s camera crew hiding? And why has her now ex-boyfriend vanished? The race to stop the killer striking again is on…
Jackie Kabler worked as a newspaper reporter and then in television news for twenty years, including nearly a decade on GMTV. She later appeared on BBC and ITV news, presented a property show for Sky, hosted sports shows on Setanta Sports News and worked as a media trainer for the Armed Forces. She is now a presenter on shopping channel QVC, and signed a three-book deal with Accent Press in 2014. Her debut novel The Dead Dog Day was published in October 2015. Jackie lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, who is a GP.