A KILKEEL author has said that the publication of her debut novel is “a lifetime ambition fulfilled”.
Recently released by Poolbeg Press, ‘The Desire Line’ – set in the week leading up to Halloween – is Jane Cassidy’s first foray into the world of the thriller, and two more books featuring its chief protagonist, sleuth Jer McCabe, are already in the works. “Writing has been a part of my career in all its different incarnations, but I always did want to write a novel, and that has been an ambition from I was at primary school,” the former BBC producer told the Mourne Observer. “If you had asked me back then what I wanted to be, I would’ve said a writer. “A lot of people probably have that same impulse, but you don’t admit that to other people and half the time not even to yourself. “It is a lifetime ambition fulfilled to publish this book, definitely.” The local writer – who has also released folk albums – admitted that moving from the factual writing that her work had entailed to fiction had not been “a very obvious transition”, though highlighted that, over the years when she got time to do so, the “clamour to write fiction or prose would assert itself”.
Leaving her job in the BBC – an experience she described as devastating – proved to be a “now or never” moment, and a newfound love for the psychological thriller genre drove her on. “The more I got into it, the more I got absorbed by it and enjoyed it,” the Kilkeel author said. “I think it turned my writing around; I stopped trying to write the heavy literary novel, the kind of novels we had studied at university. “I began to think more about the reader, how to get the cliffhangers in, and how to create a really strong plot. “I think I was really much more focused on the reader and creating a series of books where people would read one and want to come back to the next and the next.”
‘The Desire Line’ begins with McCabe and his wife Nora giving new friend Helena a lift home from hospital to Islandmagee, only to find an empty hillside where she claims her house should be. Jane highlighted that this proved to be “self-prophetic in a very weird way”, given that, two weeks after the book’s publication, her family home – which had at one point doubled as a surgery for her father Dr Tom Cassidy, and which had been home to her late mother Joan – was demolished. “That was very weird, as the opening chapter of the book, and what kickstarts the story, is that a woman is driven home by two new friends and finds that the house that she lives in with her partner has vanished off the face of the earth,” she explained. “She claims it has just been disappeared and erased. “Standing two weeks after the book was published with my siblings, the family home was just gone. “There is only soil, no shrubs, no sign of where the garden was, no sign of where the foundations were. “We sold it four years ago, but it is still a shock when your childhood home is now fresh air.” ‘The Desire Line’ is “a spinetingling story” that should appeal to a wider audience beyond thriller aficionados, Jane stated. “It all happens in the space of one week, so there is a real pace to it,” she added. “It happens in the week leading up to Halloween, with the denouement on the evening of Halloween on the site where she claims the house stood. “It has that domestic noir frisson, because it is something very ordinary – you go home and you find home isn’t there, and the terrible disorientation that could bring. “We all could imagine that feeling.”
The second book of the series – a three-book deal with Poolbeg is in place – is set to be published next June, and locations closer to home may even feature in future Mourne Observer Wednesday 25 October 2023 25 Kilkeel writer’s debut novel a ‘lifetime ambition fulfilled’ instalments. “I did set out a sequence with the same sleuth,” the author concluded. “My sleuth is not a detective, he is a TV producer, which is very much the world I moved and worked in for many, many years. “So, I thought I would be much more comfortable writing about that, because I don’t know anything about police procedure and there are lots of books about detectives, so I thought this would be much easier for me to write. “I set this one in Islandmagee, but I am sure in the future I may well set something in Mourne, because that has huge potential as a location for a book. “It would be lovely to write something about Mourne.” ‘The Desire Line’ is available now in paperback and eBook (including Kindle) formats.