About the author:
Jane Cockram was born and educated in Australia, where she studied Journalism at RMIT, majoring in Literature. After earning a post-graduate diploma in Publishing and Communication at Melbourne University, she worked in sales for Pan Macmillan Publishers and then as fiction buyer at Borders, fulfilling a childhood dream of reading for a living. Cockram spent a year living in the West Country of England, where The House of Brides is set, and still daydreams about returning. In the meantime, she resides in Melbourne with her husband and two children. The House of Brides is her debut novel.
The House of Brides is a tale of psychological suspense in which a young woman whose life is in tatters flees to the safety of a family estate in England, but instead of comfort finds chilling secrets and lies. Can you tell us a bit more about the book?
The House of Brides is about a modern young woman, Miranda, who is a social media ‘influencer’ and has made a few mistakes. She is in a low patch both personally and professionally. Her mother died when she was a child and she barely remembers her. What she does know is what she has learnt from reading her mother’s bestselling book ‘The House of Brides’ – her memoir about growing up on a remote English estate called Barnsley.
Miranda receives a letter from her long- lost cousin at Barnsley asking for help, and Miranda decides to go. She thinks it may be a good way to learn more about her mother and after all, she has nothing keeping her at home.
But when she arrives, instead of finding out what happened to drive her mother away from Barnsley, she is swept up into a more recent – and sinister – disappearance.
What inspired the idea behind this novel?
The House of Brides was inspired by Rebecca – one of my favourite books, and definitely a favourite of a lot of readers. I’ve always loved the atmospheric setting, the slightly sinister undertones and the gripping plot elements of Rebecca but I couldn’t help wondering how a modern girl would cope if she was thrown into a similarly gothic situation. I wanted to explore how women – and men – have changed in recent times and also bring something fresh to the story.
What is something that has influenced you as a writer?
I am hugely influenced by other books and writers and also by place. I find setting one of the key drivers to a story and what I am most drawn to as a reader as well as a writer. Some of my favourite books have a setting at the score of the story that is almost like another character. I’m thinking of books like The Remains of the Day, Jane Eyre, I Capture the Castle, and in an Australian setting, The Lost Man by Jane Harper.
My father-in-law has a subscription to an English publication, Country Life magazine, and he hands the copies down to me. I can’t help but be drawn in by the pages of beautiful, historic properties for sale and they are often accompanied by longer pieces about the social histories of these houses. It’s hard not to daydream about the people and lives contained in these houses so they are most definitely an influence as well.
What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?
I have been very busy with the release of The House of Brides and my routine has been thrown into disarray! I am highly routine-driven person though and am itching to get back to normality and back to work on book two. I write every day while my children are at school, sometimes at home and sometimes at the library. The library days are my favourite – I meet another author, Sally Hepworth, and we confiscate each other’s phones and set word targets before we can have lunch and chat. It’s a good way to get the word counts up before lunch time. And then we have tea in the afternoon – it’s a very reward driven routine!
This is your debut novel. Do you have other manuscripts tucked away that you’ve worked on first?
I think all writers do – well I hope it’s just not me, and I also hope that no-one ever uncovers mine. I think of them as my practice books, much in the same way that a sportsperson or a musician would put in the hours before performing or competing. So there is some value in them – but only for me.