I have a real treat today for mystery fans! Author Jane Renshaw is giving us a sneak peek into her new book The Sweetest Poison, including a couple exclusive excerpts from her favorite parts in the book. Please let her know in the comments what you think about them! And of course follow the tour to learn even more about her and her writing. Best of luck in the giveaway!
Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.
A bullied little girl’s desperate act has terrible consequences.
Which character was your favorite to write?
I loved writing Damian’s scenes. He gets under the skin of the people around him – sometimes in a good way, but often to their exasperation and irritation. Fun to write. Here is his (much older) brother Hector’s description of him as a five-year-old child. Helen, the point-of-view character in The Sweetest Poison, is speaking first:
‘Does he still have a nanny?’ ‘Well, they call her an au pair. Hand-picked by Zenaida, who seems to have scoured the arrondissements for the surliest girl in Paris – and that’s saying something. Although to be fair, the surliness may partly be down to having to look after Damian... No, really, he’s an au pair’s worst nightmare.’ She could hear the grin in his voice. ‘Obsessed with jumping off walls and out of trees – in fact any structure high enough to have the potential for fatal injury.’ ‘Oh God!’ Suzanne would soon have put a stop to that. ‘His other main interest is skulls. Other kids bug you for plastic figures and luridly coloured ice lollies. Damian whinges on if you don’t stop the car so he can get out and scrape up maggoty roadkill.’
What was one of your favorite scenes?
I enjoy the scene where Helen is climbing the hill behind her house to spy on Hector:
She stopped at the heathery ledge, with its wall of rock behind to lean back against, where she’d sat so often and for so long that she wouldn’t be surprised to find a shadowy figure lingering, the ghost of that skinny girl with the spotty face and the hair that stuck out at the sides like something on a cartoon character. She wished she could reach through time and grab that little ghost and say: Look! Look at this! And pull from her pocket the last letter from Hector. The little ghost’s eyes would open wide, and she’d take the letter in her hands like it was a holy relic; but then she’d probably shake her head, and bite her lip, and say Suzanne was right. What made her think he didn’t have a string of drippy idiots carrying his letters about in their pockets? What made her think it wasn’t all going to end in tears? The little ghost had misery down to a fine art. Her fantasies about Hector hadn’t been the kind where he took her in his arms and told her he loved her, and kissed her, and made wild passionate love to her – oh no. In her daydreams she’d be attending his wedding to Fiona, and Hector would smile at her as he walked down the aisle, arm in arm with his beautiful bride, and Helen would smile back while inside her heart was breaking. And then she’d get leukaemia, and as she lay dying suddenly Hector would be there, and she’d finally confess that she loved him, and he’d weep bitter tears as she died in his arms, knowing too late that he loved her too. She laughed out loud, and batted the heather in case of late-to-bed bees before lowering her bum and leaning back against the rock, and letting her breathing slow and her eyes wander, down the hill and across the fields and treetops to the grey bulk of the House of Pitfourie.
Will we see these characters again?
Yes, I’m working on the second book in the series now. I love reading series and being able to spend lots of time with characters I love – and I wanted to have that as a writer too. I hope readers will enjoy being back at Pitfourie for the next ‘installment’ and finding out more about what on earth Hector is up to.
Which of your book worlds would you like to visit?
Definitely Pitfourie! In fact, my mum and I are taking a holiday in Aboyne (the nearest town to Pitfourie) in a couple of weeks’ time, and no doubt we will be taking a drive out to where the (fictional) estate is located. I’ll be able to imagine that I really am entering the world of my books, and that, if I’m lucky (or unlucky), I might just encounter one of my characters on a walk up a woodland track…
When life has cast you in the role of victim, how do you find the strength to fight back?
When she was eight years old, Helen Clack was bullied so mercilessly that she was driven to a desperate act. Now she is being targeted once more, but this time her tormentor’s identity is shrouded in doubt.
When her life starts to disintegrate, she flees home to the wilds of north-east Scotland, and to the one man she knows can help her – Hector Forbes, the dubiously charismatic Laird of Pitfourie, with whom she has been hopelessly in love ever since those hellish days in the school playground, when he was her protector, her rescuer, her eleven-year-old hero.
But is Hector really someone she can trust?
And can anyone protect her from the terrible secret she’s keeping?
Read an excerpt:
And then into her misery had come the letter. The first letter he’d ever written her, with her name, ‘Helen Clack’, and her address in his neat sloping writing. Inside, a single sheet of writing paper. And his words, telling her how sorry he was about Dad, how much he’d liked him, that he wished he could have been at the funeral. That he hoped she was all right. That it was something, that Dad hadn’t had to suffer through a long illness, that his death had been so sudden, at home at the Parks rather than in an anonymous hospital ward. And then the words that she’d never forget as long as she lived: I’ve been thinking a lot about you –’ Well, you and your mother. But still. She’d carried the letter around for days. Suzanne had found her staring at it, and snatched it away and read it, and then perched on the kitchen table and said, ‘So. Have you replied?’ And when Helen had said she hadn’t, Suzanne had offered to help. ‘They don’t think like us. They don’t spend – how many days have you been mooning over this? – six days analysing and pulling apart and putting back together every little thing we say. You have to treat them like they’re simpler forms of life. Stimulus–response.’ ‘Hector’s not a “simpler form of life”. That’s the whole problem.’
Having discovered early in her ‘career’ that she didn’t have what it takes to be a scientist, Jane Renshaw shuffled sideways into scientific and medical editing, which has the big advantage that she can do it while watching Bargain Hunt! Jane writes what she loves to read – series of novels in which the reader can immerse herself, which let her get to know an engaging, interesting and/or terrifying cast of characters slowly, in the same way you get to know people in real life. Ideally, the drama should be played out in a gorgeous setting, and the cast should include at least one dangerously charismatic, witty, outrageous protagonist with whom the reader can fall in love. A bit of murder and mayhem in the mix never hurts either… Hence the Pitfourie Series.
Jane Renshaw will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway