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Saturday, 27 May 2017

Southern Virtual Mini Book Festival - Introducing Jane Lythell

Welcome to the third and final spot on day one of my mini book festival and I'm delighted to introduce you all to Jane Lythell. Jane is the author of The Lie of You, After The Storm and Woman of the Hour. Her much anticipated fourth novel Behind Her Back, the follow up to Woman of the Hour, will be published by Head of Zeus and released this August. I was thrilled to get to meet Jane in person at the Guildford Book Festival last year and I'm hoping that after being here on The Hippo today I can persuade her to come back again later in the year to do a Q&A *hint hint*

Jane Lythell lives in Brighton and is a sea-lover, star gazer, film and football fan. She worked as a television producer for fifteen years; moved to the British Film Institute as Deputy Director; did one year as Chief Executive of BAFTA followed by seven years at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She now writes full-time.

Photo courtesy of Jane Lythell


When I was writing The Lie of You, my debut novel, I had no idea I was writing a psychological thriller. I was told I was by my publisher Head of Zeus after they had accepted it for publication. They gave me a two book deal and asked for a synopsis for a second psychological thriller. I had an idea for one in which a young English couple join strangers on a sail boat to the Caribbean. This treatment became After the Storm

What are the elements in both novels which make them psychological thrillers? I would say they are:

·         A focus on the psychological states of the main characters

·         Getting inside those characters’ heads so we know what is really going on as opposed to the image they present to the world

·         An event that tips that character into obsession or extreme behaviour

As well as these elements I think the way the story is told contributes to it being a psych thriller. What I think is key here is when you reveal important information to the reader. For example in The Lie of You the reader knows from page one that Heja is profoundly jealous of Kathy and is out to get her. What the reader does not know is where this deep hatred and obsession springs from nor the lengths that Heja will go to. Kathy is blissfully ignorant of Heja’s enmity and this adds to the sense of menace and jeopardy. 

In After the Storm Anna is nervous about getting onto a sailing boat with an American couple who she and her boyfriend Rob have only just met. What heightens the drama is that the reader knows that Owen, the owner of the boat, suffers from profound insomnia and when he does fall asleep he is plagued by the same terrifying dream. The reader also knows that his wife Kim hides all the knives on the boat. Thus the reader knows, before Anna or Rob do, that Owen is a man on the edge capable of breakdown and who knows what else. If the reader knows more than the characters who are in danger then the suspense, the thrill effect, is magnified.

I greatly enjoyed exploring disturbed psychological states in my first two novels. Why then did I make the change to contemporary fiction in my next two novels?

In Woman of the Hour and Behind Her Back I explore the life and trials of Liz Lyon, a single parent to a teenage daughter and a TV producer at StoryWorld TV station.

What inspired both Woman of the Hour and Behind Her Back was a desire to explore the pressures facing women at work. Many books depict women’s emotional and family lives but I’ve seen much less fiction about a woman struggling with the pressures of work. Yet that had been my life: a lone parent and a working mother, trying to keep all the balls up in the air, feeling conflicted about competing pressures.

As with my two earlier books however Liz Lyon is often in a situation where there are characters who are lying to her, or plotting against her, and she has to overcome these challenges. In Behind her Back, out on 10 August, a new Head of Sales arrives at the TV station and she joins forces with the News Editor, who hates Liz, to undermine her at every turn. Meanwhile at home Liz has started to date again but her fifteen year old daughter deeply resents the new man in her life. So there is lots of conflict which drives this story.

To sum up, I have written two different genres but what the four books share are a focus on strong women, who also have their lows and their vulnerable moments. These characters battle adversity whether it’s a jealous colleague at work or guilt about being a lone parent or a holiday from hell!

Finally, I think what makes a novel satisfying to read is when believable characters are put into credible situations that test them. This is probably more important than what genre that novel sits in.

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I reviewed Woman of the Hour at the beginning of the year and you can read my review here. It's a book that I'd highly recommend and if you're quick you've got time to read it before the follow up Behind Her Back is published!

If you'd like to find out more about Jane and her books you can find her using the links below:


I'd like to say a big thank you to Jane for taking the time to stop by today. It's been a pleasure having you here and I'm looking forward to catching up with the characters in StoryWorld again soon!


  1. Woman of the Hour is a cracking read, and it's great to find out more about this fantastic author!
    Well done authors, and well done Neats...GREAT 1st day of this mini festival! xx

  2. Jane's books are definitely going on my TBR list - they sound intriguing.

    1. I can highly recommend Woman of the Hour Jan, I really think that you'll love it as much as I did! 😉