I am delighted to welcome Jaime Raven to my blog today as my Author in the Spotlight. The Madam was published by Avon Books on 19 May 2016.
Your debut crime novel The Madam is a gritty thriller featuring a young prostitute who is wrongly accused of killing a client. What prompted you to write books within this genre?
I’ve always been a big fan of the crime genre. It was actually my late mother who got me interested. She was an avid reader of Agatha Christie and Mickey Spillane and she encouraged me to read their novels from an early age. Once I started I became totally hooked on them and since then I’ve enjoyed thrillers and crime novels by hundreds of other authors.
The Madam is set in Southampton, which I believe is your home city. What’s the most interesting place that you visited when researching your book? And what’s the strangest
There’s a part of Southampton that for years has been synonymous with prostitution. It’s right in the centre of the city and about a mile from my home. I’d say it was both the strangest and most interesting place I visited while researching The Madam. It’s where I had conversations with two sex workers about what life is like as a prostitute. This helped me to create the character of Lizzie Wells, who features in the book. The story is about her search for revenge after she serves time in prison for a crime she didn’t commit.
Meeting these women was a strange and illuminating experience. So too was exploring for the first time what is unquestionably the most run-down part of the city. Not so long ago the prostitutes displayed themselves in the windows of some of the houses. These days they’re more subtle and most, like Lizzie, work for escort agencies and service their clients in their homes or local hotels.
Your next book, The Alibi (out in January 2017), is set in Peckham. Why the change in setting? And will it be in the same genre?
My next book, The Alibi, is indeed another crime novel and features a young female crime reporter who investigates the brutal murder of a soap actress. The story takes place in South London, including Peckham. I felt it was the perfect setting for a thriller about ruthless gangsters and crooked cops. And since I spent my childhood living in that part of London I know it pretty well. This helped when it came to pulling together the geographical elements of the story.
You’ve covered many disturbing themes in The Madam. Is anything off limits? Does anything make you uncomfortable? Is there any particular topic that you wouldn’t write about?
To be honest there aren’t any themes that I’d ever be inclined to shy away from. These days people are used to reading about the most horrendous types of crime. I get most of my ideas from newspapers and every day they feature stories that make your hair stand on end – from awful murders to the most revolting forms of behaviour. A lot of things make me uncomfortable – but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t write about them.
Do you think your journalist background has helped with your novel writing?
I was a journalist for many years before becoming a full-time writer. Many of the stories I covered involved crime and I attended hundreds of trials, inquests and police press conferences. I draw on those experiences every time I start to develop the plot for a book.
What can you tell us about your pathway to publication?
I’m lucky enough to have an agent who works tirelessly on my behalf. When I sent her the first draft of The Madam she suggested I make some changes before submitting it to a publisher. I produced a second draft but the first publisher who received the manuscript rejected it. My agent then sent it to Avon/Harper Collins and they loved it and offered me a two-book deal.
Looking back to your teenage years, what advice would you give your younger self?
My advice would be not to take life so seriously. Like all teens I worried too much about the future when I should have been focused on enjoying the present.
If you were writing a book about your own life, what would the title be?
‘I DID IT MY WAY.’
What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read, read and read. And then keep on writing until you know you’re as good as at least most of the authors who get their books published. Then wait for that lucky break.
And lastly, why should people read The Madam?
I like to think that The Madam is a book that can be enjoyed on more than one level. It’s both an endearing thriller and a gritty love story. And at its heart is a character who I hope readers will remember long afterwards.
About Jaime RavenJaime Raven is a former journalist living in Southampton.
Find out more about Jaime Raven by following Avon Books on Twitter - @AvonBooksUK
By Jaime Raven
Published by Avon (19 May 2016)
Three years and eleven months. That's how long Lizzie Wells has been banged up inside Holloway prison, serving time for a crime she didn’t commit.
Six months. That's how long it’s taken Lizzie to fall in love with her fellow inmate, Scar.
Now they are both finally free and, together, they are about to embark on a vengeful search to find those who framed Lizzie. It’s time to make them pay…
THE BUSINESS MAN. THE COPPER. THE MADAM.