Interview with Jan Durham

I have a very special guest on the blog today.

Jan Durham is the author of Kipper Cottage Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in the coast of North Yorkshire. I am honored to have Jan on my blog today. I have read the first two books of the Kipper Cottage Mysteries and the series has not only made it to my favorite list but also to my best books of 2022 list. 🙂

Without further ado, let’s get on with the Q&As.

Hello Jan and welcome to my blog, The Book Decoder. Please tell me and my readers about yourself.

I was born in the North East of the UK, but now live just outside Edinburgh with my husband, three kids, a one-eyed whippet and a fat black pug. I went straight into advertising from college, and trained as a copywriter.  I had a few novels published  in my thirties and forties, but only became a full-time writer at 49, which just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks! I now split my time between writing novels and writing for tv.

The first two books in the Kipper Cottage Mysteries released recently. Can you tell us what the series is all about? 

Liz McLuckie is a widow who has come to the small fishing town of Whitby to make a fresh start. She’s renovating two fisherman’s cottages, but that isn’t enough to keep her busy mind occupied. Her natural curiosity involves her in a series of local murders, which she investigates with her motley group of friends, and Nelson the bull terrier – possibly the ugliest, but also the bravest dog in Yorkshire!

What is the inspiration behind writing the Kipper Cottage Mysteries? 

When I was growing up in the North East of England, we used to visit Whitby every summer. My sister and I used to ride over the moors in my Dad’s rickety old work van, often accompanied by an assortment of cousins, and would spend the week exploring its alleyways, beaches and amusement arcades. I guess that was the inspiration for the Kipper Cottage series. It’s my way of escaping to Whitby whenever I want. I’ve always loved crime fiction of the gentler sort, from Agatha Christie to CJ Sansom, so Kipper Cottage is the perfect way to combine two of my most favourite things.


What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I don’t live in Whitby, and don’t visit as often as I would like, so I do spend quite a lot of time on Google maps making sure I’m getting the details right. Crime-wise, I usually don’t need to do a lot of research. There may be a few details I need to read up on – the effects of cyanide poisoning, for example, or an overdose of  adrenaline – but the research isn’t usually too onerous. Kipper Cottage stories tend to be character-driven rather than plot-driven. I do outline pretty thoroughly, however, and any research is incorporated into that – I’d say it takes me about three to four weeks to outline, with the help of my editor at Inkubator Books. By the time I start writing any research I might need is pretty much done, although there may be small things I need to check on as I go. 

What’s next for Liz McLuckie? 

I’m currently working on the third book in the Kipper Cottage series – Death at the Feast – where Liz has to investigate the mysterious poisoning of the town Mayor. Her caterer friend Mags has been accused of causing the death by negligence, and Liz has to prove her innocence. It’s another twisty tale, with lots of clues and red herrings. Once again Nelson manages to save the day, but this time even he doesn’t know it! 

What does a day in Jan Durham’s life look like?

I’m always up early, thanks to my dogs, so I tend to get most of my writing done by two or three o’clock in the afternoon. I don’t have my own writing space. I do most of my writing in a comfy chair in the kitchen. It can get a bit busy, with lots of people and dogs coming and going, but I find it suits me very well. If I had a totally silent, private and well-organised room to write in, I suspect I wouldn’t get very much done at all! If I’m deep in the middle of a novel and the ideas are flowing, or if I have a deadline approaching, I might do some more writing in the evening, but that tends to be the exception. 

What are you currently working on? 

I’ve just finished my first draft of Death at the Feast, and am about to start the rewrite. Fingers crossed my editor will like it. I’m hoping it will be published sometime in May. I’m also thinking of ideas for the fourth book in the series – any suggestions gratefully received!

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