Tonight, after a grey, wet, miserable day, I am delighted to be joined for a cheery Friday Night Drinks session by author…. Jill Marsh.
Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?
Since lockdown, Friday evening has been cocktails and a game of cards online with the gang. So I’ve made us a cocktail classic called Damn the Weather: gin, vermouth, Triple Sec and orange juice. I hope you like it.
Damn the weather indeed, that sounds delicious. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
The James Joyce, a pub here in Zürich, apparently transported from Dublin. The great man lived here for many years and is buried on the cemetery on the hill. It has green leather banquettes, murals on the wall and a long wooden bar. You’d love it.
As someone who has spent (probably too) many hours in Irish pubs, that looks pretty authentic! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
James Joyce himself could be a candidate, but I’d like to put the world to rights with some contemporary insightful minds. My guests would be Nick Cave and Angela Merkel.
I think that would be a really interesting combination. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?
After twelve novels in my European crime series, I’m branching out into something new. I read a lot of non-fiction about psychology and the human mind. The aim is to write something quite chilling, involving no gore or abuse, and offer an insight into people’s psyches.
I absolutely love that kind of book, so that sounds really intriguing. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Every time I publish, I feel great. Nervous, but great. But what makes me the proudest is when I’ve helped another writer, whether through encouragement, a positive critique, a team event or editing a good book to make it shine.
The greatest challenge is always the same, even after fourteen books. It’s that nagging question: am I a fraud?
I think anyone who is creative will absolutely relate to that feeling, I know I certainly do. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
As a Swiss-dweller, a country with four languages, I would love to see my work translated into German, French, Italian and why stop there? My detective, Beatrice Stubbs, loves travel (and food) and she would relish going global.
What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
Apart from my abs? I’m co-writing with my husband. We’re pooling our skills to see if we can create something greater than the sum of its parts. It involves cellos, orchestras, gaslighting, Salzburg and the worst and best of humanity.
I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Me too! When I was a kid, my family lived in Africa, the Middle East and Hong Kong, giving me such an education into the world. As an adult, I travelled to the Caribbean, Goa, Belize and Alaska, which were all astoundingly lovely. Yet I think my heart belongs to Europe. For research purposes, I visited Naples in Italy and it got under my skin. It’s so gloriously chaotic and crazy and full of life. Top of my bucket list is Deià in Mallorca. If I ever get there, I may never come back.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
My real name is not JJ Marsh.
Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
That’s a tricky one without knowing your personal tastes, but I’ll recommend Smash All the Windows by Jane Davis. She creates a fictional disaster and its aftermath with such brilliance, I still think about those characters and how they’re doing.
It has taken conviction to right the wrongs.
It will take courage to learn how to live again.
For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.
Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.
If only it were that simple.
That sounds fascinating, and I love the cover. Thank you for the recommendation. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
I grew up in a pub, Julie, I am the Queen of Non-Hangovers. My advice is to avoid the nightcap and have a cup of herbal tea instead. If I really have overdone it, a bottle of Coke perks me up.
Advice from an expert is always worth listening to! After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
Cycle up to the lake for a swim, homemade pizza, a bottle of red and an arty film with my husband that we can argue about later.
That sounds perfect, and what a gorgeous place to be able to go for a swim. Jill, thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me this evening, I have really enjoyed it.
Jill’s latest book, Odd Numbers by JJ Marsh is hot off the press and you can buy a copy here.
Can you forgive a friend?
Strange things bring people together. Like a tragic death.
Over two decades, five friends reunite every other New Year. They celebrate, grieve and heal. Memories grow dusty and the nightmare starts to fade.
On the 20th anniversary, in a remote snowy chalet, old doubts surface.
Wounds reopen and morality comes into question.
Is friendship a safety net or a tie that hobbles to the past?
They thought they knew each other’s secrets.
Did they miss the biggest one of all?
When history is rewritten, they must act to preserve the future.
A fatal decision means this reunion will be their last.
JJ Marsh is the author of The Beatrice Stubbs series, featured in The Guardian Readers’ Recommend and The Bookseller’s Editor’s Choice
Jill is a founder member of Triskele Books, an award-winning author collective founded in 2011, Swiss Ambassador for The Alliance of Independent Authors, Co-editor of The Woolf, Zürich’s literary ezine and writers’ workshop and reviewer for Bookmuse, the readers’ site with a difference
She lives in Switzerland with her husband and three pugs, and in an attic overlooking a cemetery, she writes.
Next week I will be joined on the blog by author, Audrey Cowie, so make sure you join us then.