On Tour with The Sweetest Poison by Jane Renshaw and Meet the Author

Without taking anything away from historical novels, contemporary Scotland is, to me, Scotland at its best.

The Sweetest Poison by Jane Renshaw is a Mystery, traditional detective story.

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?

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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.’

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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.

Hi Jane, and thank you for being here today!

What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book

I hope that readers will enjoy spending time in the ‘world’ of the Pitfourie Series. As a character in Game of Thrones says: ‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.’ I’d also be delighted if readers fell in love with my characters!

A fun fact about writing your book.

I don’t know how fun this is, but I was once bitten by a dog called Fly – nicknamed ‘The Beast’ by local children. I was walking past Fly’s house when he jumped out at me, bit my leg and swaggered off. Hector’s nasty old dog Tip is based on Fly, while Fly in the story is actually quite a nice dog! Not sure how that happened.

Did you always have the reins of the story or did the people in it try to take over?

Certain characters seemed to write themselves – Helen’s Uncle Jim, for example, who takes a quiet delight in thwarting well-meaning people intent on improving his less-than-ideal living conditions (‘Good clean dirt’ as he calls the squalor). He’s a relatively minor character but readers seem to warm to him, so I’m quite glad I gave him free rein.

Do you have a day job? / What was your job before you started writing full time?

Yes, I’m a copy editor working on scientific and medical journals. My clients are academic publishers and subject areas range from research on HIV to plant evolution.

How do you keep from resenting your duties when you have to stop writing to take care of them?

Funnily enough, I sometimes get more writing done when I’m approaching a work deadline – knowing that I soon won’t be able to work on my book makes it immediately seem more attractive! Also, it’s nice to have a change, and to let a different part of my brain take over (the picky, critical part I try to keep in check while writing fiction – the first draft, anyway).

Which kind of scenes are the hardest for you to write? Action, dialogue, sex?

I find it hardest to write pivotal, complicated scenes in which x, y and z have to happen for the sake of the plot, or in which clues have to be planted, but not too obviously. It’s hard to make those scenes seem natural and not too contrived. Also, sometimes when I’m writing a pivotal scene some huge glaring inconsistency or problem will make itself obvious… I hate those moments the most.

Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?

Ha, this is a great question! I think non-writers always assume that people and events in novels must in some way be based on the author’s life or on research. While of course there are a lot of details, character traits etc. gleaned from my own experience or from research, the vast majority of what I write is completely made up. ‘What if…?’ I’m always asking myself. Being able to let your imagination run wild is absolutely the best part of writing fiction, I think, but it’s the part that is maybe most misunderstood.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love going for walks in the countryside around my home. I have some walks I do regularly, and it’s always exciting (in a nerdy sort of way) to see what’s new, nature-wise. Today I think I’ll take the track that passes three gean (wild cherry) trees and see if there are any ripe geans. Frustratingly, the branches with the most fruit are always at the top of the trees and out of my reach…

And of course I love to read. I’ve just finished all the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters and am on the look-out for another series to get my teeth into.

What are your top three favorite books of all time?

Is it cheating to pick three books from the same series? My all-time favourite series is the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett, starring the ultimate Renaissance Man, the dazzling and outrageous Lymond who cuts a swathe through 16th Century Europe over the course of six (long!) books. Nothing else comes close in terms of immersion in another world, and Dorothy Dunnett’s characterisation and storytelling are spectacularly good. Her writing is rich and often frustratingly ambiguous, so when you read the books again (and again!) you often have ‘Ah!’ moments when you realise that you’ve just worked out what was really going on… My favourite books in the series are… So hard to choose, but I think I’ll go for Queen’s Play, The Disorderly Knights and Checkmate.

Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? ( It can be anyone living or dead).

Someone living in Ancient Rome, I think – I’m fascinated by the Romans and would love to find myself transported to Rome at the height of the Roman Empire (only for a day, though – I’m too fond of modern comforts to want to stay long). Who to choose, though? Someone at the heart of all the power struggles would be interesting. Maybe Agrippina the Younger, the sister of Caligula and mother of Nero, who is described on Wikipedia as ‘ruthless, ambitious, violent and domineering’. She seems to have plotted to murder various people, including Caligula himself…

And she would hopefully have some spare time in between all the plotting and murdering. I’d disguise myself as an ordinary citizen and take a walk through Rome to experience all the hubbub, all the sights and sounds and smells of the city. It would be quite an experience – particularly if my one chosen day happened to be the day on which Agrippina herself was murdered!

Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date.

But I was never convicted…

If you were an animal, which one would you be?

A wombat. They seem so laid back and, like me, obviously enjoy their food!


This post is part of a Tour. You can find the schedule here: 


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On Tour with The Sweetest Poison by Jane Renshaw and Meet the Author #booklover #amreading #romance #bookworm #bookboost #ebooks #fiction #read #mustread #goodreads #greatread #whattoread #vivimackade #contemporary #suspense #scotland

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