Author Influences With Jan Harvey

Welcome, welcome to another Author Influences. This week we are joined by Jan Harvey for the mid-week book talk.

Which authors/books did you like to read as a child?
I was eight when I read The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe. I very quickly read the whole set of Narnia books and then read them over again. I loved them and still do.

At the end of The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe C.S.Lewis says he hopes one day I will pick up my copy again, blow the dust off it and read it to my own children. I was so looking forward to that but my son sadly didn’t like the Narnia books at all and I can’t express how disappointed I was, because Harry Potter had won the day!

Were you good at English at school? Did you like it?
I loved it. I was hopeless at maths and science (I still am) but I adored English and Art. I have always loved all things cultural. When I was twelve the school took us to see Twelfth Night, it was my first Shakespeare play. I was completed hooked and knew my life would be about art, theatre, music and literature. As for science? Well I married a physicist who tells me maths is beautiful so we can cover all bases between us, it’s very handy for Trivial Pursuit.

What genres do you like to read? Have they had an impact on the genre you write?
I love mystery novels, a good thriller and any book that is beautifully written. I just picked up The Loney, I have absolutely no idea what it’s about but I loved the cover and when I started reading it I was hooked, because the writing is exquisite.

All the books I have read have impacted on my own novel. I think a writer takes a lot in subconsciously, which then comes out in her work. Good books will do that to a person.

If you were to write a different genre what would it be and why?
I’d write a thriller. I have no idea if I’d be good at it, but people have commented that my novel, The Seven Letters, is ‘unputdownable’ and that’s because each chapter leaves you in suspense. Put it this way, I would enjoy giving it a go.

Did any author’s work encourage you to pick up your pen and write and if so who, what and why?
Daphne du Maurier. Her writing is so beautiful I often go back and re-read a paragraph to enjoy it again. When my friend Myra told me that she had done that with The Seven Letters I thought, ‘I’ve done it. I’ve achieved the highest praise possible.’

Are there any authors who, as soon as they publish a new book, you have to get it?
Barbara Erskine, queen of the time-split novel. Also Kate Morton who is a masterful writer and plotter. The House at Riverton is in my top ten. However, the contemporary author I simply ‘can’t wait to read’ is Patrick Gale, he is awesome.

Which books have you read that have made you think ’Wow, I wish I had written that’ and what was it about the book?
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Nicole uses language so creatively that she is a true master. I buy spare copies of the book from second hand shops to give to people who need a good read.

Have any of your plots/characters been influenced by real life events/people? (Be careful, I don’t want you getting sued!)
Oh, that would be telling! One of my characters has elements of a well-known actor who I have admired since childhood and another, Madame Odile, was written for a famous actress who kept coming into my mind. I know she would play her so perfectly.

Film companies have already shown interest so you never know what might happen. I have learnt one thing about writing a book, you have no idea what will happen next, it is tremendously exciting.

Thank you for taking part, Jan. I am the same as you in that I loved English but am hopeless at maths and science. Great choices with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Du Maurier.

Jan’s debut novel, The Seven Letters, is out now. You can grab a copy HERE

The Blurb

Claudette Bourvil is a shy country girl recruited by the Resistance to work in Paris. Claudette must quickly learn to survive in a city ravaged by war as she works undercover in a bordello for the cold, calculating Madame Odile. Claudette falls in love with one of the visitors to the bordello. Fritz Keber is a Nazi officer. He is complicated, sophisticated, powerful and, at the same time, a lost soul. He does not tell Claudette that he is linked to Madame Odile and when she finds out his dark secret she is horrified. It is she who is forced to pick up the pieces. Claudette falls foul of timing, betrayal and the need to do what is right. She is wrongly punished and pays a heavy price. In England, 2014, Connie Webber witnesses her friend the playwright, Freddie March, commit suicide. A kind stranger, Matt Verney, comforts her and becomes her friend. Together they sort out Freddy’s belongings and uncover the mystery of his mother. They find seven letters which lead them to Paris and one of the former prostitutes who tells them she remembers a maid who was with the French Resistance. Connie and Matt trace Freddy’s mother to the quiet village in Normandy where they find out the terrible truth of how she died…


About Jan Harvey

Jan Harvey was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire in 1961. After a career as a magazine editor/designer working on various business publications she became an author five years ago. The Seven Letters is her debut novel and her fans will be pleased to hear that her second novel is underway. The two books are linked by Paris, the city that inspires her work.

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