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Rachael Blok is a best-selling author of a crime series featuring Dutch raised detective DCI Jansen. Her novels are set in St Albans, the cathedral city in Hertfordshire. Her latest novel ‘Into the Fire’ was published by Head of Zeus on 1st April 2021.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
On maternity leave with my first baby, I went from teaching 150 children a day in a busy London comprehensive, to being in a flat with my baby for most of the day. I loved him, but also really felt I needed something ticking over as an anchor to my previous life, so when he slept I wrote! My first novel, Under the Ice, is about a mother at home with her first baby, which is the background to the crime.
What do you love about the crime genre?
The thing I love about crime is that you can write about whatever you like – no subject is off limits. I tend to write whodunnits, so there’s a structural challenge, but most readers understand the set-up of a suspect list and the process, so the books can be about anything at all.
Tell us about ‘Into the Fire’
Into The Fire was inspired in part by fabulous Agatha Christie. Locked room mysteries are some of my favourite stories, and I wanted one of DCI Jansen’s novels to be set in a classic county house, with a small number of suspects, all with secrets which leak out over the weekend. Once all the guests arrive at the house, all the action occurs there. We only see Jansen leave.
Your novels are set in St Albans, where you live. What do you like about this setting?
I live in Hertfordshire, and we’ve visited St Albans frequently. As well as being beautiful and historic, it’s also small and peaceful – the kind of the place you can’t imagine anything grisly. It seems to me to be the perfect place to hide an underbelly of society. Into the Fire is set in a country house, next to the Roman Theatre in St Albans. It’s the only Roman Theatre in Britain, and that kind of history provides such a brilliant backdrop.
For those who are discovering your work for the first time, do they need to read the books in order?
There is no order to the novels – it’s possible to read them as stand-alones. But in terms of how this one fits into the series, Into the Fire is set a Halloween, and is the autumn novel. Under the Ice is set in the 12 days leading up to Christmas, Scorched Earth during a summer heatwave, and the fourth, out next April, is set before Easter. Where Under the Ice is about change – new baby, new city; and Scorched Earth is about the grief of loss – loss of a partner, loss of freedom; Into the Fire is about extremes, where literally most of the characters are prepared to burn everything down to get what they want. It’s this simmering ambition that exists in most of the characters that creates the tension, the idea that in their own way, each is prepared to push as hard as they can for what they want.
‘Into the Fire’ is available in hardback, e-book and audiobook. You can buy it through our Amazon store, here.
You can read more interviews with Authors by checking out the series on our Book Club page