Jo Spain is the Irish international number one bestseller of the DCI Tom Reyolds series and the standalone psychological thriller The Confession. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, former parliamentary assistant and vice-chair of the business body InterTrade Ireland, Jo now writes full-time.

In 2018 she co-wrote her first original television show, TAKEN DOWN, currently airing in Ireland, bought by ARTE Europe and also picked up for international distribution by industry giant Fremantle. Jo has now been headhunted to work on several European dramas.

Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four small children. Auntie M recently had the opportunity to speak with Jo about her writing and her books.


Auntie M: What drew you to writing crime fiction in the first place?

Jo Spain: Crime fiction is my favourite genre to read and to watch. I love the thrill of the mystery, the adrenaline of the whodunnit, and the satisfaction of the resolution. I think crime fiction storytellers are the hardest working writers.

AM: Your new release, The Confession, is your first stand-alone thriller after writing the popular Tom Reynolds series. Why the switch?

JS: The story had arrived fully formed in my mind and I knew it didn’t fit with the DCI Reynolds series. Tom is police procedural – each is a whodunnit. In The Confession, we know who did it, we just don’t know why.
I also wanted to stretch myself. I write really quickly and am currently averaging two books a year and two TV series. To keep on top of it all, I like variety, because each time I pick up a project it’s like a holiday from the other writing. If that makes sense!

AM: Did you find the experience of writing a stand-alone differed from writing for the series?

JS: Very much so. Over the course of a series you can develop much-loved characters so your readers have the satisfaction of the soap of their lives on top of the plots. But it’s hard, because you have to keep them going, with new developments for the same people in each book.
In a standalone, you have to create characters that readers will instantly love/hate. There’s no second chance, it’s all within the four-hundred-odd pages. Then you have to mentally wrap them up in your own head, and move on, so it’s a bit like mourning a set of characters each time.


AM: Will you go back to Tom now? Any other books percolating?

JS: The fourth Tom came out in Europe this year, The Darkest Place. I’ve a new standalone out in February, Dirty Little Secrets, and a new Tom, The Boy Who Fell next summer. And I just completed my latest standalone, due in 2020.

AM: You’re a busy woman! With four youngsters and jobs aplenty, how do you find time to write?

JS: I write full-time and my husband is here full-time, too. He works for me now, editing and proofing (he’s a former editor) and does the heavy lifting with the children. But we’ve managed to establish a lovely family/work routine and we’re both at home pretty much all the time. And I am a fast writer, which really helps.


AM: And publicity, how do you reconcile accomplishing that with family, job and writing demands?

JS: That’s harder, especially now I’m writing for TV. I try to condense all my publicity outings to short periods in and around book releases (but I make exceptions for very lovely bloggers). When my new TV show Taken Down, (which is based on an original idea) came out this month there was more publicity than I’ve ever had to handle. It was fun but exhausting.

AM: What piece of advice would you give to a new writer starting out in crime fiction?

JS: We all say it – read, read, read. Know your genre, hone your craft. I always advise the masters; Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle etc. And I personally plan out all my books because I feel excellent plots take a lot of organisation. At least, I hope that’s what my readers feel about my plots…!

AM: Who would we find on your nightstand waiting to be read?

JS: When I find an author I love I buy everything they’ve ever written and wait eagerly for the next. Some of my favourites include Fred Vargas, Louise Penny, Pierre LeMaitre, Chris Whitaker, Donato Carrisi, J.P. Delaney and Liane Moriarty. I’m a huge fan of well-written crime, I don’t tend to read formulaic-type thrillers, though I respect their skill.

Advertisements