Today, I have authors Lee Collins and Jane Collman in the interview chair. They’re here to talk about their latest release An Unethical Practice, book one in the No Plain Jane PI series, a crime thriller.
Part One: Lee and Jane on An Unethical Practice
1. First, what’s your favourite scene in the book? Not in regards to writing, but reading, and why?
Lee/Jane: The scene when Julian meets Mila in the bar. It really sets the scene for the book and for what’s about to come… Lots of twists and turns that leave the reader guessing until the end.
2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Lee/Jane: No. We wouldn’t. We had the help of what is considered to be one of the best editors in the industry helping us in the final stages, so we truly believe the book is as good as it can be.
3. What do you love most about your two main characters?
Lee/Jane: They are smart and feisty! And they never give up trying to solve the case.
4. What makes you want to shake your two main characters?
Lee/Jane: Jane can be really bossy at times, but all in the interest of solving the case. Grant is an East-End London wide-boy, so he can be a bit cocky at times.
5. If you could spend time with one character from your book, who would it be? And what would you do during that day?
Lee/Jane: I would meet up with Jane, and we would definitely go for lunch and have a few glasses of wine, so I could tap into her brain.
6. Did the characters hijack the story or did you feel like you had control of your book?
Lee/Jane: We like to think that we had control of the book, and if any of the characters had hijacked the book, rest assured, our editor would have made us put that right.
7. How did you come up with the title for your book?
Lee/Jane: As readers will discover, it is based on the storyline and plot. I think the book cover gives a good clue as to where the title came from.
8. If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the leads?
Lee/Jane: Janet McTeer, who starred in the series Ozark, would make a fierce Jane. She would however have to learn some karate moves lol, but I’m sure it’s not beyond her capability as such a talented actress. A lot of people say that Jude Law looks like Lee, so he would have to play Grant.
9. If your book was a candle, what scent would it be and why?
Lee/Jane: Oh dear. Not very pleasant, unfortunately. Blood, death, urine and fear due to the nature of the book.
10. If your book had a theme song, what would it be and why?
Lee/Jane: Love Me Harder, by Ariana Grande and The Weekend, because one never knows when they might lose their life and the love of their life.
11. If your book was a colour, what would it be and why?
Lee/Jane: Red, because it represents the colour of blood.
12. If a reader asked you why they should read your book, what would you tell them?
Lee/Jane: We’ll let our reviewers answer this question. They think people should read it because they consider it to be a 5* read that is gripping from the very beginning. A roller coaster ride of twists and turns that leave the reader guessing until the end. A chilling tale that readers will not want to put down.
13. What can we expect from you in the future?
Lee/Jane: More chilling and gripping books! We are already half way into the next book, but there is still a lot of work to be done before it is released. And we have another 4 books planned for the series.
Part Two: Lee and Jane on Writing
1. Tell us about your writing process.
Lee/Jane: Given that An Unethical Practice has been published under my name and Jane’s name there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between us both. I generally come up with the idea for a book and write a one page synopsis which I send to Jane to review and comment on. Once we’re happy with the idea, I write the first draft of the book then go through it two or three times to add more layers, such as detail, description, show more and tell less, etcetera. Once I’m happy with it, I send it to Jane for a harsh review. She really does get the claws out, and invariably, I have to do a fairly major rewrite. Once that’s done, I send it back to Jane and it goes back and forth until we are both happy with it. Then it goes off to the editor and I work with them to polish and fine tune the book. Jane does write some small parts and given her background as a police constable, she does a lot of research on my behalf and talks to her ex-colleagues in the police force to ensure that the book is as credible and realistic as possible, so she plays an important part in the writing process.
2. How much research goes into your books?
Lee/Jane: A lot! This is a crime novel, so everything has to be as accurate and realistic as possible.
3. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Lee/Jane: It’s a fantastic way of self-expressing and can be therapeutic at times. It is also very rewarding when we get positive feedback about our books.
4. What do you enjoy least about writing?
Lee/Jane: In the case of this book, the amount of research we have had to do. Also, sometimes there are so many ideas it’s overwhelming and difficult to decide what goes in and what is left out. But Lee now has 17 books published, and Jane has been actively involved with the last 9 books, so we guess, we must love it to be so resilient to the downsides of writing.
5. You can only recommend one of your novels to a reader, which would you choose from the books you’ve written so far, and why?
Lee/Jane: Definitely An Unethical Practice. Friends who have read Lee’s earlier books have commented that this is the best book he has published to date.
6. What novel was your personal favourite to write, and why?
Lee/Jane: Computer Lover. Because it is based on a real life experience for Lee. It gave him the chance to write about it and put the experience behind him. Therapy in many respects.
Part Three: All About Lee and Jane
1. Readers know about the writer you, but what about the everyday you?
Lee/Jane: Lee has lived in Tenerife since 2001 where he lives with his ex-partner who is Spanish (so he speaks fluid Spanish). They have a very good and healthy friendship, even after splitting up 15 years ago. He has to walk 3kms up and down hill to go shopping, and comes back loaded up like a donkey with heavy bags, so at 54, he’s still in pretty good shape (despite smoking and drinking way too much lol). He does all this because he has to cook for his ex, but in return, he lives rent-free (bonus!) They have a good arrangement and it works well for them both.
Jane is a crafts expert and regularly holds classes at home and gives demonstrations at craft fairs. When she’s not busy doing that, she is tending to her immense garden and Koi Carp, both of which she treasures dearly. Any free time she has is taken up looking after and advising her two daughters. Suffice to say, we are both kept busy on a daily basis!
2. What is something unique/quirky about you?
Lee/Jane: Nothing springs to mind immediately. We both have a good sense of humour, so we guess if you saw some of our private messages on social media, you might think we were quirky lol!
3. What are some of your pet peeves?
Lee/Jane: Lee’s is when his ex puts a new toilet roll on the wrong way round! It should be facing out, not in lol.
Jane’s is when her daughter’s get stroppy and think they know more than she does. Not a wise move!
4. Where were you born/grew up at?
Lee/Jane: We were both born and raised in the UK. Lee in London, Jane just outside of London.
5. Describe yourself in five words or less!
Lee/Jane: Humorous, outgoing, professional, and ambitious.
Part Four: Lee and Jane on Reading
1. What book do you think everyone should read?
Lee/Jane: Lord of the Rings.
2. What fiction genre(s) do you read the most?
3. Share your favourite character from a book that you’ve read, and why they are your fave.
Lee/Jane: Garp from the John Irving series. He is so quirky.
4. On average, how much do you read every week?
Lee/Jane: Jane reads every day. Lee is too busy writing, so he reads when he has time. He has a stack of TBR books, but after writing all day, he prefers to listen to music or watch a film/series.
Title: An Unethical Practice
Series: No Plain Jane PI, Book #1
Author(s): Lee Collins and Jane Collman
Genre: Crime Thriller
Heat Rating: 2
Book Length: 63k
If you have a warm beating heart, they want it.
Blurb: Dr Julian Fitz-Bartholomew, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, goes to a bar after attending a Health Minister’s Forum to relax and put his long and draining day behind him. After talking to an attractive young lady with an alluring middle-class British accent, whose features gave him the impression she was of Eastern European descent, he regains consciousness on a beach close to his hotel late at night. When he takes a bath, he discovers a black line drawn along his breastbone, and a ruptured puncture wound in the crease of his arm. Given his medical background, he suspects he was drugged and something untoward was meant to happen to him. To prevent anybody else being subjected to his traumatic experience, and the press catching wind of what had happened, he turns to a private investigator, Jane. Working with her small team, Martine, and recruit, cocky wide-boy Grant, they race against time to find out who’s responsible for what happened to Julian—before whoever it is gets what they’re hunting for. And reporters have the opportunity to twist Julian’s innocent conversation with the vixen into a sex scandal, thereby potentially destroying his marriage and career.
Purchase at: Amazon
I open the door. My nostrils fill with perfume-scented air laced with alcohol which lures me inside. I glance to my left and right—there are quite a few couples enjoying a romantic night together. A group of work colleagues are letting off steam after a hectic day. A few strays, like myself, sitting or on foot at the bar staring at everything and nothing.
Except one. The attractive young lady standing beside a stool wearing a hip hugging black satin skirt with a matching blouse, sheer enough to show off her satin camisole underneath. Everything accentuated her curves beautifully, and yet left a bit to the imagination. Her stiletto heels with thin shoestring laces, wound around her feet, up and above her ankles begged to be untied and unlaced slowly.
She doesn’t take her eyes off me, and I don’t know why. I glimpse behind me, but there’s nobody there—just me. She’s definitely staring at me, and my brow and palms become moist. I’m not sure if I’m flattered or shocked by her direct and unashamed eye contact. The other people in the bar, and the noise have faded into the background.
I head to the bar, not sure where to position myself along it. There are some gaps, but only one spare stool, and the mysterious lady has her Hermes handbag on it. I recognise it because Claudia has one and I remember how much it cost me.
Uncomfortable, I change direction. She acknowledges me, smiles, revealing immaculate white teeth, and takes her handbag off the stool. I walk towards her, nod and sit down. “Erm…that’s very kind of you to let me take your seat.”
She giggles. “Actually, it was my handbag’s seat, so she’s the one you should be thanking, not me.” Her middle-class British accent, and stunning facial profile and skin tone, which are suggestive of her Eastern European descent, are both charming and sexy. Her pupils are dilated.
I’m unable to sit still.
I chuckle. “Oh, I see. Forgive me, my mistake. Let me correct that right away.” I eye the handbag trying not to laugh. “Why, thank you, Ms. Hermes.” My cheeks burn slightly. I hope she appreciates, or at least tolerates, my pathetic attempt at humour.
She cocks her head to one side, eyes wide, lips pouting, and stares into my eyes. “Ooh, I’m impressed. Not many men can tell the difference between a Hermes handbag and what they sell at street markets, even if it’s swung at them with a brick inside it.”
We both laugh, me nervously, her confidently.
“Well, I’ve learned with time, it always pays to recognise a good handbag, if you want to keep on the right side of the ladies.”
“You’re quite the ladies’ man, are you?”
I shuffle uncomfortably on my stool, waving a finger. “Maybe once upon a time, but not anymore. Those days are over, I’m pleased to say.” I point to my wedding ring.
She flinches, her smoky vixen eyes aren’t sparkling so much. I sense disappointment. She averts her attention to my ring, takes my hand in hers, and raises it so she can inspect it. The view of her hair is replaced by her face and our gazes lock. “Aww. That’s so sweet. I’m really happy for you, and your wife. She’s a very lucky woman to have a handsome charismatic man like you. Do you have children?”
“Yes, we have two beautiful children—a girl and a boy.” I puff my chest out.
The sparkle in her eyes is back. “How lovely. Oh well, I’m quite young, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time for all that later in life.”
“Oh, I have no doubt in my mind you’ll find the right man when the times right for you. After all, you’re an extremely pretty and attractive young lady.” I tug on my jacket sleeve.
“Oh, stop it. You’ll have me blushing. And…” She pauses and taps a red polished nail against her glossy red lips—a mischievous glint in her eyes. “I’m not trying to pick you up. It’s just nice to have some good company. It’s not much fun being in a bar on your own. Especially when it seems like I’ve been stood up by a guy I was meant to be meeting. Anyway, changing the subject, and without wishing to sound rude… Are you going to order a drink for us both, or do I have to?”
I cover my face with my hand. She oozes confidence and has no problem taking control. “Oh my goodness. I didn’t think for one minute you were trying to…you know. Anyway…swiftly moving on. Of course, I’ll order us a drink. What would you like?”
She points at her empty Martini cocktail glass. “I’ll stick with the dry Martini’s, thank you.”
“Coming up. And, would Ms. Hermes like a drink?”
She giggles flirtatiously. My passionate senses ignite when she caresses my forearm.
“No, she’s driving, so she’d better not. My name’s Mila by the way. And you are?”
“Ah, I’m Julian.” I swivel my stool as she moves her hand away. I’m relieved, but surprisingly disappointed. I raise a finger in the air to attract one of the bartender’s attention.
“What can I get you, sir?”
“A dry Martini and a large scotch with ice, please.”
“Coming right up, sir.”
I glance to my left. Mila rests her chin in her hand as she leans against the bar. She studies me quizzically. “Do you work here, or are you just visiting?”
“I’m just visiting. I’m attending a conference and thank goodness it finishes tomorrow.” I’m momentarily reminded of Claudia, but Mila’s suggestive smirk has me mesmerised.
“Oh right. In which case you’re only going to be in town for tonight?”
I nod. “That’s right. As lovely as this place probably is, I can’t say I’ve really had the time to appreciate it, and I can’t wait to get back home.”
“Yes, I’m sure. It must be difficult being away from your family.”
“Harder than you can imagine.”
“Where are you staying?”
“The Royal Chesterfield. Do you know it?”
“Oh yes, I know it. It must be a very important conference if you’re staying there. It’s not cheap that place.”
“I wouldn’t know about that, but I guess it must be.” I shift awkwardly on my stool. “Anyway. I don’t really want to think about that place right now. That’s why I came here—to get a break from it.”
Mila grimaces. “I’m sorry. Let’s change the subject.”
Lee was born and raised in London where he worked as a management consultant, but moved to Tenerife in the Canary Islands in 2001 to pursue a more fulfilling life and focus on his writing. He has been signed to the publisher, eXtasy Books, since 2016 and has sixteen books published with them (Lee and Jane have published An Unethical Practice independently).
Jane is a retired police constable from the UK and has been actively involved in the last eight books Lee has published. Her input and first-hand knowledge of police procedures and the limitations of private investigators have been invaluable in making An Unethical Practice as credible and authentic as possible.