Reaching for the stars

interview with mystery author Jon Harris

An interview with mystery writer Jon Harris

Photo of mwriter Jon Harris, showing a dark haired smiling man with a beard.

Jon Harris grew up in the West Country just outside Bristol before moving to Cardiff to study physics and then Durham where he studied for a PhD in astronomy. After spending a few years staring into space he returned to the West Country for work and took up writing. He now lives in a village in North Somerset with his wife, son and pet tortoise. He’s happy to report that the village is far less murderous than its fictional counterpart. We unravel the man behind the mystery.

TBF: What made you want to write mystery fiction? Are you a reader of this genre yourself? If so, who are your favourite authors and influences?

JH: I read quite broadly but I have a particular soft spot for murder mysteries. Of course the towering giants in the genre are Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers who I suppose were my gateway in. My own books are probably more closely influenced by Hannah Hendy and A.J. Ford who both write in the cozy genre.

TBF: Your main character Julia Ford is very convincing. She is funny and likeable, doesn’t take herself too seriously. Did you base her on anyone you know?

JH: Julia’s been an interesting character to write. A few of my readers have commented on her neurotic streak. Sadly that wasn’t a particularly deliberate choice, but possibly my own personality seeping in.

TBF: You studied physics and astronomy to the highest academic level. Do you currently work in these sectors?

JH: While I wish I could work in astronomy, sadly the money’s not really there and it would probably involve moving abroad. As you can probably tell from my mystery stories, I’m really in love with the countryside around me so I’ve ended up in a much more mainstream career, writing software.

Large red radio telescope with Jon Harris before it.

TBF: What got you into these subjects? What areas do you specialise in? What excites you most about scientific advances in these areas?

JH: I think I was quite a deep thinker growing up, so I was always quite gripped by fundamental questions (how old is the universe? where did it come from? etc). My research area was in gamma-ray astronomy, and we had a set of experimental telescopes out in the Namib Desert which I was lucky enough to visit on a couple of occasions. The next generation of telescopes are currently being built so I keep an eye on how they’re progressing and I’m sure they will discover some quite amazing things when they’re in operation.

TBF: You grew up in the West Country and then moved North East. Are there any notable differences between these regions, apart from the accents of course.

A picture of Jon Harris as a young boy camping.

JH:  When I was in the North East I was living in Durham, which really is a place of contrasts. There’s a very fancy university there so you would see the students going about in their academic gowns but at the same time the local area around was quite deprived and largely ex-mining towns. There’s a good setting for a story in there somewhere. Where I am in North Somerset is probably much more of a “normal” village, which of course means all of the eccentricities shine through, most of which made their way into my writing in one way or another.

TBF: You’ve already written the third book in this mystery series. Can you give a taster of what readers might expect? How do you see the series developing?

JH: Yes, the third book is well underway. The books are not meant to be taken too seriously, so I didn’t mind my fictional village of Biddle Rhyne racking up quite the body count. But even so, it was beginning to stretch things, so Julia now finds herself – somewhat reluctantly – in the role of a private detective. I’m hoping this will provide plenty of (mis)adventures for Julia’s future. With that setup I found I had to work hard to keep the tone lighter and remind myself that Julia and her friends are not hard-boiled gumshoes.

TBF: Tell us a little about your writing process.

JH: Writing is sadly mostly confined to the evenings when my work is finished, my son’s in bed and (ideally) my wife is out. Coffee rum has been known to help fuel the process if I’ve had a long day.

TBF: Name a couple of all-time favourite books.

JH: My all-time favourite books are probably Rebecca and Northanger Abbey. Both are quite amazing books and manage to break a lot of conventions in hugely interesting ways. In Rebecca, the protagonist is almost completely passive – she doesn’t even have a name – but the story is still gripping from start to finish. Northanger Abbey is probably the only book I know that captures on page the collision of relationships, friendships and family ties. Incredible that it’s two hundred years old.

A picture of two mystery books by Jon Harris.

Start reading Jon Harris’ novels now!

Start reading Jon Harris’ novels now!
For links to buy all of Jon Harris’ books, available on Kindle, FREE with Kindle Unlimited, in paperback, and in hardback, head to his author page here. The links should take you to the amazon store in your national location.

Alternatively head to the series links here:
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