So recently fellow blogger and good friend Christine and I tracked down Jane Casey in order to have a bit of a chat with her about the Maeve Kerrigan series (and our love for Maeve’s partner in crime Derwent) and honestly it was a huge amount of fun. You can see part one below and then join Christine https://northerncrime.wordpress.com/ tomorrow to see the rest.
The latest Maeve Kerrigan novel, After the Fire comes out in Paperback on Thursday from Ebury and is available NOW in Hardback or E-book.
So, Christine, what is it do you think about the Kerrigan series APART from Derwent that makes them so addictive?
It is beautifully written, with a distinctive Britishness about it and the main leads are well drawn.
Maeve is an amazing character. She has guts, is down to earth and is the sort of woman you would love to go for a drink with. I’m re-reading the series at the moment and loving how instantly as a reader you empathize with Maeve and are drawn into the drama.
Yes even before Derwent (we’ll get to him. Faints.) Maeve was easy to get along with and she’s so beautifully useless on occasion which does make her realistic. I’d LOVE to have her as a friend. Despite her job meaning she has a tendency to head into really dark territories (we’ll get to that too I’m sure. Shiver.) So seeing as how we’ve kidnapped Jane for a bit maybe she could tell us where the inspiration for Maeve came from (If it’s from someone you know Jane we ALL want to meet them!!)
Thank you for being so nice about Maeve, ladies! I sometimes feel she gets a little bit overshadowed by the more look-at-me characters – naming no names – so I’m happy for her to get a little love.
When I started thinking about Maeve, I wanted to create a strong character but I thought more about her circumstances than about her personality. Her character developed as I wrote her, and now she feels like a friend to me. I wanted her to be younger and less experienced because I felt it was a different angle on a fictional investigation. There are lots of brilliant inspectors leading investigations in crime fiction, and I love them too, but in real life it’s the detective constables who are out doing the investigation. She can go anywhere and talk to anyone, and she happens to solve quite a few cases along the way. She’s not jaded. She loves her job with a passion – but she’s not yet sure if it loves her back, so she has a lot to lose if things go wrong for her. She’s in a male-dominated environment, trying to stay true to herself, trying to find a way to have a life outside the job. Sometimes people assume that I’m exaggerating the boys’ club atmosphere in the books, but if anything it’s underplayed. I have heard from readers who are female police officers and they find Maeve completely believable, which makes me happy!
She’s one of those people who can read others exceptionally well, and she’s full of empathy, but she hasn’t a clue what she’s doing in her personal life. In fact, if there is a way for her to sabotage things, she’ll find it. In After the Fire, she does some things that don’t work out at all well, but if she always got everything right I think she’d be a less appealing character.
People sometimes ask if Maeve is based on me, I think because I write from her perspective. We have two things in common: a loathing for weak tea and a tendency to be chaotically untidy. She’s far braver than I could ever be. I don’t make things easy for her, nice author that I am, but she never gives up and she never gives in.
That’s brilliant, Jane and you touched on one of my favourite aspects of the series. Often in crime reads, we see women in positions of power and in senior roles. It implies that the sexism and the male dominated aspect of policing is something of the past. I have only ever really thought of it in terms of ‘Prime Suspect’, or ‘Life on Mars’. Maeve is very definitely at the bottom of the pecking order and she seems to come up against these dinosaur attitudes all the time.
I wanted to know more about that and why is was important for Maeve to be in this kind of environment?
I’ve always found the best protagonists to be the ones who stand a little bit apart from everyone else – it means they don’t necessarily follow the herd. Maeve has to work quite hard to be taken seriously and I really enjoy exploiting the tension between her sensitive nature and how she feels she has to present herself. Women are always judged for more than their work – she always has to think about how she looks and how she acts. She also has to be wary about her relationships with her colleagues. Her reputation matters to her enormously which I think makes her quite different from more traditional crime protagonists. There’s a lot to be said for the devil-may-care school of hero, but her constant balancing act between her public and private persona strikes a chord with lots of readers.
I made Maeve the daughter of Irish parents because to me and to her that makes her quite different to her English colleagues. That sense of being ‘other’ is very common to the children of immigrants. Even the job she’s chosen has a touch of betrayal in it – her parents worry about how its perceived in Ireland that she’s joined the police.
In real life the police are not very politically correct in how they go about their work – there’s a huge amount of black humour which I think helps them to deal with the miserable aspects of their jobs. And it’s a world where the banter is more or less constant. Nothing is off-limits and no one is safe. The male officers actually get just as hard a time in the books, often from Maeve herself. She would never complain, even when Derwent steps over the line, because it would make her even more of an outsider than she is already. She’s learned a lot about how to deal with him herself! I think she generally has the upper hand now.
I think Maeve absolutely has the upper hand, and we’ve seen her journey to get there which is another really brilliant edge the series has. I love how the characters grow and grow. With THAT I think it’s time to bring in the love of my fictional life Derwent – I am DYING to know what inspired that character. I really do adore him with a passion. Is it the bad boy thing? What do you think Christine I know you are the same! I swear if Jane has based him on a real life person I’m camping out on her doorstep.
I cannot express how much I love Derwent! What do you mean ‘based him on a real character’, Derwent is real! It has to be the bad boy thing and his uniqueness. There is no one else out there like him.
There are some authors who establish their characters on page 1 of book 1 and stick with it until the bitter end, but I really enjoy seeing how they develop. Both Maeve and Derwent have come a long way over the last few books, even though the thing that drives their relationship – total incompatibility – hasn’t changed. What has changed is their respect for one another.
When I started writing about Derwent in The Reckoning, the second book in the series, I thought of him as a useful contrast to Maeve. I’d concentrated on her relationship with Rob in The Burning, but I didn’t want to focus on Maeve’s love life throughout the series. Derwent was supposed to be a difficult character, someone who challenged and wrong-footed Maeve constantly, and I didn’t imagine he would become so important to her or me!
Derwent has a few elements of people I know in real life – his focus, his refusal to back down, ever, his sentimentality and his pride in being a good policeman. But he’s become much, much more than the sum of those characteristics. He has a good heart but approaches the world with anger as a defence mechanism, because he thinks others would see kindness as a weakness. I don’t think he thinks he deserves to be happy but you can tell he’s yearning for someone to care for him. He’s a true alpha male, which doesn’t make him perfect – in fact, it means he needs Maeve to remind him he’s human. And he’s definitely a bad boy. He’s impulsive, emotional, passionate and funny (at least, he thinks so) – and many readers love those aspects of his personality.
It always amuses me when new readers comment on how awful he is, because the people who’ve followed him through the whole series think he’s much improved! Readers either adore him or hate him. Very few people are neutral when it comes to Derwent. Maeve is becoming really fond of him even though she’s well aware of his faults and I think their friendship is key to the whole series….
To be continued…
Find out more here: http://www.maevekerrigan.co.uk/
Follow Jane on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JaneCaseyAuthor
Purchase information: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Casey/e/B003VNABHU/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Happy Reading Folks!