How to write like Jane Jago

Give us the tl;dr of your life.
Chef turned magazine editor. Retired and got more time to be an author. I’m finding retirement suits my temperament entirely.

How do you think your writing style has changed over the years?
I think I have mellowed a little. Less enfant terrible, more amused observer.

Which famous author’s work would you say your writing style resembles the most?
Miss Austen with added cuss words.

Have you ever collaborated with other writers?
I regularly collaborate with my friend E.M. Swift-Hook on the Dai and Julia Mysteries. These are murder mysteries set in modern-day Britain, but one where the Roman Empire still rules almost all of Europe.

How did it impact your style?
It sort of impacts on my writing style, but only insomuch as is necessary to meld seamlessly together with another writer. Except that she reins in my tendency to kill characters in creatively bloody ways …

How important is research to you?
Depends what I’m writing. Present-day mystery and alternative history require research; otherwise one trips over the sort of people who know stuff. And believe me, they will jump on you if you put a pinkie wrong. Fantasy allows me to make up my own rules and history.

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If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been?
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Why Tigana?
It’s an absolute masterclass in fantasy without feyness. It is a book that reduces me to tears every time I read it. And I have read it many, many times.

Is there anything you would have changed?
I would change nothing. It’s a work of genius, IMO.

If someone is brand-new to your work, what book do you think they should start with?
I think I’d recommend reading the Pulling the Rug trilogy as a bird’s-eye view of the peculiar convolutions in my brain. Also the Joss and Ben Stories (Who Put Her In? and Who Pulled Her Out?) are fun and easy reading.

Do your stories carry a message?
Oh yes. Usually concealed, but there is always a thread …

Tell us about your latest book.
Pulling the Rug III is the third in my series of collected verse and short fiction responses to the challenges and sweeteners of life. It is by turns funny, bitter, uplifting and true.

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If you had to pick one author, living or dead, to review Pulling the Rug III, who would it be?
I’d love Terry Pratchett to read and review it.

Why Pratchett?
Because I admired his writing enormously and he was a member of the awkward squad, which is admirable. I hope he would see that I use fairy stories to comment on the world around us.

What is the main thing you want readers to take away from Pulling the Rug III?
I want to make them smile, think, and when they put the book, down just nod.

Thanks so much, Jane!

Katherine Luck is the author of the novels The Cure for Summer Boredom and In Retrospect. Her latest book, False Memoir, combines the high stakes of a gritty psychological thriller with the guilty pleasure of a sensational true crime tell-all. You can read more of her work, including the “Dead Writers and Candy” series, at

Originally published at on February 19, 2019.

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Novelist, journalist, coffee addictist. Books at

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