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December Author Stalker with Jane Harper!

Catching up with the fabulous Jane at her Dymocks Literary Luncheon for The Lost Man - held at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney (October 24th 2018) L - R Claudine Tinellis (Talking Aussie Books Podcast), Jane, Shelley Gardner & voracious reader Corinne Stevens

As the song goes, 'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas', and you know what that means! No, not Santa...well yes, Santa...but equally as means it's time for me to introduce you to my December Author Stalker Victim.

Drum roll please (excuse me while I have a major author fan-girl moment). Meet the lovely and fabulously talented Jane Harper. (Congratulations to writer Emma Babbington who correctly guessed who it was on my Facebook teaser. She said 'Gotta be Jane Harper - best prologue ever in The Dry!'

In my opinion, Jane has written the best prologue I have ever read (and I read A LOT!) And what is even more amazing is that prologue was the opening of her debut novel, The Dry (Pan Macmillan -May 2016). If you click on this link to Jane's website, you can see what I mean.

The words literally oozed from the page. I was there in that room. I could smell it. I could feel the tension in the air. I was captivated. I was hooked. And as every writer knows, you have to grab the reader in those first few pages and you have to have a hook. And Jane Harper did both in spades.

After savouring every riveting page, I was thrilled to discover that she had written a second novel, Force of Nature (Pan Macmillan - Sept 2017) which I dove straight into. Ok, so I was a little late to the party discovering Jane, but once I started...I just couldn't stop.

But then it was an agonising twelve month wait for her next novel, The Lost Man (Pan Macmillan - Oct 2018). But boy was it worth the wait. The subtle nuances (oh how I wish I could write like that) and an ending I didn't see coming.

I have had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Jane at two author events and I can't wait to see what she has in store for us in 2020. Sadly, there is no new book released this year as Jane is working on a special project...bub number two.

So I won't keep you waiting any longer and will hand you over to the wonderful Jane Harper. xx

Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?

A: I wish I had known how valuable and time saving it can be to plan properly. I had a fear that planning was just another form of procrastination, but for me that’s not true at all. It wasn’t until I took planning seriously that I was actually able to finish my debut novel, The Dry.

I now spend months planning a book before I even think about starting to write in earnest. The longer I spend planning, the quicker the full draft comes together, and it really can make a huge difference.

Some people fear planning stifles their creativity, but I don’t find that at all. There are always going to be challenges and questions that crop up in any draft. At some point, you have to solve them and that might involve making some difficult choices and changes. It’s far easier to hit delete on a 5,000 plan than a 50,000 draft manuscript.

Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?

A: That’s a difficult one! My own books are so personal to me now that I find it hard to answer that. I think if I had to decide, it would be something from my childhood that first inspired my love of reading and, ultimately, writing.

Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?

A: I think it was The Witches by Roald Dahl. I was probably a little young to read it, because it absolutely terrified me. As an adult, I love it and consider it one of my favourite books, but I still remember being completely shaken by how dark and unflinching it is in places.

Q4: Coffee, tea or ? (what is your favourite drink?)

A: Always tea! English Breakfast or Earl Grey, please.

Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?

A: I’m reading The Last One by Alexandra Oliva. It’s a thriller about a woman who is a contestant on a reality survival show when a plague-like illness hits the US population. In isolated conditions, she is left unaware of what has happened and believes the increasingly dangerous and desperate situation she finds herself in is still part of the TV show.

Where Jane makes the magic happen...

Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?

A: Very excitingly, my debut novel The Dry is currently in production as a major film, starring Australian actor Eric Bana as the main character Aaron Falk. An equally wonderful Australian actor Genevieve O’Reilly is playing the lead female role of Gretchen, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing both those characters brought to life on screen.

Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?

A: I’d have to say my family. They are all so supportive of me and my work and bring a lot of joy to my life.

Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?

A: I’ve had a few lovely holidays in Mooloolaba in Queensland, so that’s always a favourite, with some very fond memories.

Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?

A: I would probably still be a journalist. I worked as a print journalist for 13 years both in the UK and Australia before I wrote my first novel, and I really enjoyed the work. It offered great variety and the opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people.

'It’s a caricature of me drawn by Herald Sun cartoonist Macca. He drew it when I left my job as a journalist at the Herald Sun newspaper in 2016 to become a full-time author. I love this picture because every time I look at it, it reminds me of that transition and what an exciting time that was.'

Q10: How long does it take you to complete your first draft?

A: Once again, I’m going to promote the virtues of planning! I spend about four months planning a book in fine detail, and then two months completing a full draft. If I didn’t plan, I think it would still take me six months to complete a draft, but the end result wouldn’t be anywhere near as well structured.

'The man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.'

'Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland.

They are at the stockman's grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last chance for their middle brother, Cameron.

The Bright family's quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn't, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects...

For readers who loved The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has once again created a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.'


Thank you Jane for being my December Author Stalker Victim. As this post goes live, Jane is awaiting the arrival of her second precious baby.

The Lost Man is available through leading bookstores and online.

If you would like to find out more about Jane and purchase her novels, you can find her at:

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Shelley Gardner
Shelley Gardner
Dec 02, 2019

Thank you for all your lovely comments and support of The Author Stalker. I am having so much fun with the series but without readers there would be little point. So I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.xx

I hear you Benison. I am such a pantser...and my first draft is taking some time...maybe we should both take a leaf out of Jane's book and try plotting??


Benison O'Reilly
Benison O'Reilly
Dec 01, 2019

Ha, I've just finished NaNoWriMo where I tried to write spontaneously without much planning at all. Now, I find the great Jane Harper extols the benefits of planning! Great interview as ever. x


Carla Simmons
Carla Simmons
Dec 01, 2019

Wonderful interview, Michelle. Jane was a great catch - go the master stalker! Eric Bana will do a good job as Aaron. Love Jane's books.


Dec 01, 2019

Another wonderful post Shell. Thankyou for nabbing the ever delightful Jane Harper. Always exciting when the first days of the new months come around and I eagerly await reading about your next author you have successfully stalked. xx

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