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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed author Julia Vaughan about her life, her career, and what inspired her to write her new novel, Daisy Chain.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

By day, I’m a medical secretary. By night I’m planning murder! I live in leafy Shropshire with my husband, who is very supportive, and a cat called Siska who is an accomplished killer herself. My first love was Scott from Thunderbirds (he never writes, never phones…) and I spent my teenage years wanting to be one of Charlie’s Angels. I’ve grown used to disappointment.

Julia Vaughan, author of Daisy Chain, interview on The Table Read

When did you first WANT to write a book?

I’ve always written short stories but I started a novel at aged seventeen, set in New York. In those heady, pre-internet days, I wrote to the New York Tourist Bureau who kindly sent me leaflets and street maps but I lacked the grim determination to settle down and write the story.

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When did you take a step to start writing?

It wasn’t until the 1990s that I actually started submitting short stories for competitions and magazines. When I broke my leg in 2013 it was just me and the computer for six months, so I published a book of my short stories and a book on Tarot through Amazon Kindle Unlimited

How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

Daisy Chain, my debut crime novel, took five months to write in 2020. After editing the manuscript I sent it out to publishers at the beginning of 2021. Cahill Davis loved the book and, in February 2021, I signed my contract. It was then published in August 2021.

What made you want to write Daisy Chain?

I had the idea for the book nearly twenty years ago and had managed to write the first four chapters. I work in the NHS and when lockdown hit us last March, I was redeployed to another service. I mentioned my writing to my new colleagues. They asked to read something I’d written as they all loved crime novels. I gave them a short story to read that had come third in a competition, based around a detective with a secret. They all wanted to know what happened next ! Well, obviously there was no ‘next’ but I started to think that I could take the idea and weave it into the book I had started all those years ago. It fitted perfectly and the process began.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Daisy Chain?

My biggest challenges writing Daisy Chain were self-doubt and the dreaded Imposter Syndrome. Can I really do this? was the question constantly in my head. But my colleagues were super supportive and gave me the confidence to keep going. Once the characters were in my head 24/7 I couldn’t shut them up.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Julia Vaughan, author of Daisy Chain, interview on The Table Read

DCI Kath Fortune is made up of a little bit of a lot of people! But it wasn’t until I gave her a secret from her past that she really began to blossom.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

Miranda is a troubled soul trying to make amends. I like her and I hope readers do, too. Circumstances led her down a path she regretted taking and I have sympathy for her in that respect.

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What is the inciting incident of Daisy Chain?

There are too many to mention! I’ve thrown a lot of challenges at my detectives but I think the discoveries made by my psychic, Lane, are defining moments.

What is the main conflict of Daisy Chain?

Kath’s internal conflict colours her actions; how far can you step outside of the law to secure a resolution? It’s also down to forgiveness, how to forgive actions taken and how to fight to put things right.

Did you plot Daisy Chain in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

With this book, I guess it was 20% plotting and 80% seat of the pants. When I hit brick walls I threw in curveballs to move the story along with my internal dialogue running along the lines of ‘Where the hell did THAT come from?’ My characters constantly surprised me!

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Daisy Chain need?

I followed the advice of presenting the manuscript in the best possible condition I could before I sent it off. My publisher did commend me on a job well done. My editors were fantastic and I went through three minor edits which made the story tighter.

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

If the story stays in your head, no-one else is ever going to know about it. Get it down on paper. I also feel that if you are not enjoying writing it, why would anyone enjoy reading it?

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Book two in the DCI Kath Fortune series is written. Next is editing and polishing which should be an easier process second time around. I have the bare bones of Book Three planned and I’m currently writing a standalone cosy crime/mystery. We’ll have to see where that goes…

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

I am very proud of my achievement after having thought about doing it for so long. What seemed like such a daunting task became easier as I began to enjoy the story I was creating and the characters that inhabited the pages. Book Two has flowed with amazing ease and the process doesn’t scare me anymore.

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