Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with Jan Edwards which was first posted in July 2019. It’s been brought up to date to include Jan’s latest publications. Jan writes golden age mysteries and Winter Downs the first of her Bunch Courtney Investigations won the Arnold Bennett Book Prize.
Jan Edwards writes golden age mysteries and has published two titles in her Bunch Courtney Investigation series. Her nostalgic main stream book Sussex Tales gained a Winchester Slim Volume award) and she also has a BFA Karl Edward Wagner award for her fantasy fiction. A Sussex native, Jan now lives in Norths Staffs.
Her short fiction can be found in crime, horror and fantasy anthologies across the UK and USA (full details on her blog). She was a script writer for the Dr Who DVD and book Daemons of Devil’s End. Jan is also an anthologist with the award winning Alchemy Press, co-owned with her husband Peter Coleborn.
Over to Jan:
Which five pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
It was not until I reviewed my choices that I realised how they marked two distinct time periods; one between 1967 and 1970, and the other from 1996 to 1999. Looking back I can see that both were times of chaos and change, which, I suspect, have gone on to influence much of my fiction.
Nothing from very early or more recent years – there might have been but I was only allowed five! There are some upbeat songs in my wider playlist, honestly…
Legend of a Mind – Moody Blues (1968) I loved the Moodies, and, though they may seem very safe now, at the time they were generally viewed as a weird underground band by many of my classmates; most of whom were listening to pop and northern soul, with the occasional Stones track thrown in. I could as easily have chosen White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane (1967) another truly sublime song!
Man of the World – Fleetwood Mac (1969) Possibly the saddest song ever written and one of the few that will make my scalp tingle every time I hear it. It was a close run thing between that one and Vincent Black Lightning 1952 – Richard Thompson (1991) or else Meet On The Ledge – Fairport Convention (1969)
Like a Hurricane – Neil Young (the 1993 unplugged version) Personal memories of 1996 when I first heard it. Another sad song in its feel but also one full of hope.
White Magic for Lovers – Drugstore (1997) for reasons too numerous, and some too odd, to go into. There is another Drugstore track I love but it contains a few rude words, and is somewhat macabre, and I thought I should keep it clean!
Unintended – Muse (1999) all about clearing the way for new beginnings. It was played at my second wedding.
What five things (apart from family and friends) would you find it hard to live without.
Despite being something of a packrat (I hate throwing anything away) and an incurable bibliophile (Books dominate in this house!) I am not one for hankering after things that I no longer have. Nor do I crave many things in my life (if you exclude my amazon books/wish list)
Books – who can live without books?
Cats (or animals in general). Brought up on farm, my father was a shepherd, so animals are a part of my life.
Conversation – my father always claimed I was vaccinated with a gramophone needle. Stopping me from talking is the trick.
Solitude – despite being a chatterbox I do like my own company. I talk to myself constantly when I am writing fiction so better away from folks so they don’t think I am wholly mad.
Good food – I have umpteen cooks and chefs in the family so cooking is second nature. A life full of fast food and ready meals would be hell!
Give five pieces of advice to your younger self?
Be good to people.
Chase your dreams – you just may catch them.
Get of your bum and do it (whatever ‘it’ may be at the time).
You can never do favours – only pass them on.
Keep writing – and send it out to those markets (it does you no good sitting in a folder).
Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you
I may be possessed of a more matronly figure these days, but I used to be in the school gym team.
I gave up riding motor bikes a few years ago along with riding horses – this due to the dodgy knees and neck acquired through the various accidents I’ve had falling off of bikes and horses…
My Gr Grandfather – a Geordie Policeman – was murdered whilst on duty by a mad butcher.
I am dyslexic.
I was (allegedly) the first qualified female locksmith in UK.
Tell us five things you’d still like to do or achieve.
Well it’s like this… three different (and unconnected) psychics have told me that I’d live the second half of my life near the sea on the proceeds of my own work. (I’m still waiting, guys! Hahahaha! )
Finally buying that house by the sea that I was promised.
Write a hit film (or crime series – I’m not greedy) to pay for that house by the sea.
Learn to play more than 3 chords on the guitar that has been gathering dust in various homes for the past 35 years.
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Winter Downs (Bunch Courtney 1)
Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?
In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.
In Her Defence (Bunch Courtney 2)
Bunch Courtney’s hopes for a quiet market-day lunch with her sister are shattered when a Dutch refugee dies a horribly painful death before their eyes. A few days later Bunch receives a letter from her old friend Cecile saying that her father, Professor Benoir, has been murdered in an eerily similar fashion. Two deaths by poisoning in a single week. Co-incidence? Bunch does not believe that any more than Chief Inspector William Wright.
Set against a backdrop of escalating war and the massed internments of 1940, the pair are drawn together in a race to prevent the murderer from striking again.
Listed Dead (Bunch Courtney 3)
November 1940. The Battle of Britain has only just ended and the horror of the Blitz is reaching its height.
Two deaths in rapid succession on the Sussex Downs brings Bunch Courtney and Chief Inspector Wright together once more. What could possibly link a fatal auto accident with the corpse in a derelict shepherd’s hut? The only clue the pair have is a handwritten list of the members of a supper club that meets at London’s Café de Paris. Two of those on that list are now dead and the race is on to solve the mystery before any more end up on the mortuary slab.
In Cases of Murder (Bunch Courtney 4)
When the body of Laura Jarman is discovered crammed inside a steamer trunk and dumped on a Brighton railway station platform, her wealthy industrialist family is shouting for answers, but their reluctance to co-operate with the investigation arouses suspicion. Shortly after, a second body – Laura’s flatmate Kitty – is discovered in similar circumstances. What links Laura and Kitty to the private gentlemen’s parties held in a country house on the edge of sleepy Wyncombe village, and what is Laura’s family so desperate to conceal? Bunch Courtney and DCI William Wright find themselves racing along a convoluted trail through munitions factories and London clubs to a final shocking end.
Fables and Fabrications
From the Arctic wastes of Norway to a fun-laden evening at the fair, Jan Edwards leads us through a world where nothing is as it seems. Shape changers and ancient spirits roam, and cats play their inscrutable parts in stories that unsettle and disturb the reader’s perceptions. Fourteen tales of mystery, mirth and the macabre. Chosen from her back catalogue of horror and dark fantasy these stories, leavened with a sprinkle of verse, have been collected for the first time in this volume.
Winner of the Winchester Conference Slim Volume prize. Jan Edwards’ prize-winning Sussex Tales runs a witty and thought-provoking gamut of village events and of its more curious characters. From fanged ferrets to bulls in lead masks; ancient hand grenades to exploding ginger beer; cricketing dogs to wassailing orchards, Sussex Tales weaves traditional country wines and recipes, folklore and local dialect, into stories of a farming childhood in the vanished world of 1950’s and 60’s rural life. “Superbly crafted … creating sub-plots as it unfolds with purpose and fluidity… Whether you’re from Sussex or not this is an appealing and often amusing collection of tales from a bygone age. I defy you not to like them.” – Barry Lillie