She submitted her manuscript not with the thought of winning, but because of the promise of each entry being read in its entirety. This she describes as one of the greatest challenges that an unpublished author faces. After being informed that her novel had made the final six and was being passed to the judging panel, (which included the notable author Joanne Harris) a nail-biting six weeks followed before she received the telephone call that has changed her life by kick-starting a new career. The prize was the publication of her novel, Half-truths and White Lies.
It is described by Joanne Harris as 'A story of secrets, lies, grief and, ultimately, redemption, charmingly handled by this very promising new writer.' But what it is about? "My inspiration came from partner's mother, who died several years ago. She was one of life's natural story tellers, who had a memory for the most extraordinary level of detail." Using three narrators, Jane unravels the story of Andrea Fellows' family and reconstructs her family tree. "For me, the characters are everything. I like the idea that no one is exactly as they seem and that we are all so much more complex than the mask that we present to the world. I also enjoyed exploring the role and influence of the people who are missing from our lives."
She is dismissive of the suggestion that that talent is enough to secure commercial success. "I think that it is harder than ever for first time writers to get published. With publishers reducing their schedules and unwilling to take risks during the recession, writers have to be able to market themselves as a product. I recently met an editor who turned down The Kite Runner because they thought that no one would be interested in reading a novel set in Afghanistan. My copy of the book, which is quite ear-marked by now, says that over 8 million copies have been sold! I am under no illusion - I have been very lucky."
On winning, Jane says, "I hope that I can be an inspiration to others to start writing. I left school at the age of 16 with a handful of 'O' levels and I have never attended a creative writing class. All that I had was a second hand laptop, some spare time on my hands and the willpower to finish something I had started."
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Jane Davis lives in Surrey with her partner of ten years. She has enjoyed writing as a hobby while pursuing a sucessful career in insurance. Half-truths and White Lies is her first novel.