FEATURED AUTHOR: JENNY MORTON POTTS
ABOUT THE BOOKKeller Baye and Rebecca Brown live on different sides of the Atlantic. Until she falls in love with him, Rebecca knows nothing of Keller. But he’s known about her for a very long time, and now he wants to destroy her.
This is the story of two families. One living under the threat of execution in North Carolina. The other caught up in a dark mystery in the Scottish Highlands. The families’ paths are destined to cross. But why? And can anything save them when that happens?
Author: Jenny Morton Potts
Genre: Psychological thriller
Publisher: Cahoots Publishing (February 1, 2018)
Print length: 325 pages
On tour with: Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours
INTERVIEW WITH JENNY MORTON POTTS
Jenny, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
This is a book all about Hiding. Almost all of the characters are hiding from something. For some of them, their lives depend on it.
Where’s home for you?
Thaxted in Essex, England. It’s a little chocolate box town, and I’ve never lived anywhere I like as much as Thaxted.
Where did you grow up?
In the suburbs of Glasgow. Not terribly exciting, but in a lovely house with woods at the back for climbing trees and making dens. And a garden where I played with my older brother and sister late into the summer evenings.
What’s your favorite memory?
It’s the excitement of Christmas morning.
If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
Books and bookshelves.
What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
A massage machine which would have been better described as a torture chamber.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
To solve problems (in a timely fashion).
Who would you pick to write your biography?
What do you love about where you live?
The people, the cute pubs, the countryside around and the absurdly pretty architecture.
Have you been in any natural disasters?
What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Leaving my partner for six months.
What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
Editors are almost always right.
What makes you bored?
Nothing these days. I was almost always bored at school and have a horror (I mean, panic attack level) of being in a situation that might be boring for a long period. So I avoid that, of course.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
Falling over at an interview.
What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
Many things. I feel I have only been able to make really good decisions since turning 40.
What makes you nervous?
Public speaking .
What makes you happy?
What makes you scared?
Right wing politics.
What makes you excited?
Projects: I love renovating stuff.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Who are you?
A writer, first and foremost. That’s my identity. It comes before roles like wife, mother etc.
How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?
At work, for a wine merchant. No, not love at first sight though fairly quickly; but intrigue first.
What are your most cherished mementoes?
Paintings and sculptures of my son. Photos of my family. Silly things we bought in interesting places during happy times.
If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
My son Flint’s pomegranate painting.
What brings you sheer delight?
Hearing a very funny line.
Would you rather be a lonely genius or a sociable idiot?
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
Victoria Wood is my most quoted writer. This is from a sketch where Julie Walters is a Brummie talking about what her mother likes best about living in Spain. (I am able to quote this a lot, since my mother lives in Spain.) “Well, she likes the majesty and grandeur of the landscape. But she’s not too keen on the bacon.”
If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
We are thinking of going to Corsica. It has to be Europe, in permanence, but I look forward to traveling more when my son is out of education.
What would you like people to say about you after you die?
She was fun.
Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
Many of the things Rebecca Brown does are tales of my own childhood. Ralph’s pursuits are true to my own Grampsie’s and many of the pleasures they share together are real too.
One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
Ideally, I’d be pushed off a Scottish cliff.
With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
Joanna Lumley, Sara Pascoe, Bradley Walsh, Mary Dorcey, Jo Brand.
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I am reading Once Upon a Rock by Sergiu Pobereznic on my laptop.
Do you have a routine for writing?
No, I just do it 9 to 5 or 6. No breaks and no days off during a novel.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
Anywhere but I mostly do it in a cabin in the garden.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
I’ve been lucky enough to get lots of compliments. One recently which took my breath away was a review from another author which said as she read Hiding she knew that she would never be able to write as well as that. That’s an incredibly generous and poignant remark.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
It’s hard to write about harrowing experiences when you have been through that yourself. I hesitate here, to say which.
Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
I fantasize about becoming a member of the British Library in London and bumping into Jeannette Winterson there. But so far, I haven’t been.
You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
I think I would be Marin Strang and spend the day in bed with Lawrence Fyre from Piano from a 4th Storey Window.
What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
I had someone say a book was ‘boring.’ I worried about it in that I thought it would stop people considering the book when browsing online. You just have to accept that your material can’t connect with everyone. You must just try to find a fit with your audience.
What would your dream office look like?
It would just be as it is, but with an en suite swimming pool.
Why did you decide to self-publish? Are you happy with your decision?
I just wanted freedom. Yes, I have the freedom I wanted. The downside is the amount of time I have to spend promoting rather than writing. But I quite enjoy aspects of it, such as this. You get asked such interesting questions. And they make you really think!
What steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?
I did everything except formatting and cover design.
What are you working on now?
I’m completing a new thriller set in the Mediterranean and Cambridge. It’s called Just.
READ AN EXCERPT
Chapter 2Death Row
There was a walk now. They passed doors, like random choices. They all looked the same, all the colour of pale nicotine. But some of those doors were in the business of living and some were not. As you walked past them, you could feel hope slipping away. Which door? Which one? It was like a game the devil might play as you entered hell. Eventually the passengers reached the end of their journey and were shown into another room which was similar in size to the last but with what looked like a window on one side. The window was dark for the moment, with a black blind pulled down and opposite, there was a gallery with seating. The seating was slightly raked, like a theatre. They were here for a performance.
‘That’s 11.30 gone now,’ someone said from the far end.
‘Show must go on.’ Keller mumbled.
There was a crackle and then an audio test from the speaker in the corner. Keller imagined that President Descher had arranged a televised viewing and that all over the State the people could see and hear this: factory workers, grandmothers, schoolchildren, stopping what they’re doing and watching. From the audio speaker, Keller recognised words from the phonetic alphabet, then the date, today, June 23rd 2021, the location, the prisoner’s name and number HCI 72259-931 and the time scheduled for execution.
Keller knew that the duration for the poison to act was ten minutes maximum and that the ratio to be injected was set against the inmate’s weight and height.
Somewhere behind him, Keller could hear mumbling about the victims’ families and an officer explained that they were seated separately, in another viewing room. He imagined that the families’ room was crowded, since eight victims had lost their lives that day.
At 11.45 am, the time was announced once more on the speaker and the blind was pulled up manually, revealing the execution chamber. Keller had forgotten who was seated directly next to him now, but whoever it was flinched.
The prisoner was already strapped onto the gurney. There was a sheet over his body but you could see where the constraint buckles jutted up into the clean white cotton. His left arm was exposed however and the intravenous tube was already in. He was clean shaven. Keller had never seen him without a beard. He could almost pretend he did not know him.
Three Harfield guards came into the chamber now. They did not look at the window, which to them was a mirror. Who would want to see themselves doing what they were about to do, even if it was their duty. The three guards were each handed a syringe. The content of one of the syringes was deadly and the other two contained a harmless fluid. The guards would never know who among them administered the lethal injection.
The condemned man’s chest began to rise and fall. He blinked rapidly and his Adam’s apple bulged in his throat, as he struggled to find an impossible place between dignity and the screaming of his nerves to stay alive.
Keller murmured, ‘There is nothing to do now but die.’
A man in the chamber who had been out of their view, moved into sight. He was dressed in a plain dark suit. He identified himself as Warden James and held up a chart. His hand was steady enough, his white knuckles though suggested a very tight grip on that chart.
Keller stared down at the inmate who seemed to be staring back, though Keller knew that the glass was one way and that all the condemned could see was a reflection of his own final scene. All the same, their eyes met.
Warden James turned to the prisoner. ‘Is there anything you would like to say or read before we administer this lethal injection?’
Keller frowned down at the neighboring lap. It was the redhead next to him, the PhD student, twisting that engagement ring. The girl who more than likely had it all, the girl who could not cope without her cell, was barely coping at all. Keller could feel her trembling against the length of his torso and the anger in his veins burned. The young woman held her hand up to her mouth and whispered into it, ‘God, dear God.’
The Warden lowered his eyes to Prisoner HCI 72259-931 on the gurney and blinked several times. He said to the inmate, ‘Go ahead, what do you want to say.’
‘I would like to ask a question.’
‘What is your question?’
‘I would like to ask a question and have it answered.’
Warden James looked around the room at the other officials.
‘Go ahead and ask your question.’
‘Not until you tell me that I will have an answer.’
Keller smiled and nudged the redhead. ‘You see? Make the most of every goddamned moment.’
The young woman was on the edge of her seat and on the edge of tears.
In the chamber, the suits and uniforms huddled and muttered amongst themselves and the Warden came free of the pack once more.
‘We shall try to answer your question. And cannot commit beyond that. I ask you therefore again, is there anything you would like to say?’
The inmate tried to lift his head but the strap across his brow was held tight. He cleared his throat and said in that thick Carolina accent that Keller thought he’d forgotten but which now reignited in his memory and ripped through his heart.
‘I want to know if my son can see me.’
Excerpt from Hiding by Jenny Morton Potts. Copyright © 2018 by Jenny Morton Potts. Reproduced with permission from Jenny Morton Potts. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJenny is a novelist, screenplay writer and playwright. After a series of 'proper jobs,' she realised she was living someone else's life and escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England, to write her socks off.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, settled with family.
She tries not to take herself too seriously.
Connect with Jenny:
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Buy the book:
Amazon US | Amazon UK