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An Interview with JK Chichester, author of The Burned Woman

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When she was a teenager, JK Chichester wanted to be a crime scene investigator. She loved—and still loves—solving complex puzzles. When she isn’t writing, she is watching true crime shows, reading psychological thrillers, or spending time with her family.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I was a lonely kid and discovered I could create my own worlds through words. When I was 16, my relatives took me to England, where I discovered the amazing-ness that is Jane Austen. I’m also a big fan of Shirley Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, Gregg Olsen, and Freida McFadden. They all continue to influence my writing in their own unique ways.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I saw a video on the ‘Well I Never’ YouTube channel about the burning of Bridget Cleary. Curiosity *ahem* killed the cat, and I bought the book The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke. What I read simultaneously blew my mind and broke my heart. I was left with so many ‘what ifs’. Those ‘what ifs’ turned into a story in my head.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The Burned Woman is the only title I felt was appropriate. It doesn’t indicate much; it leaves some air of mystery for the unsuspecting reader, I think!

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Oh, goodness, there would be so much Celtic music! There’s actually a band called The Burning of Bridget Cleary, and I’d beg them to consider doing the soundtrack were the book ever developed into film.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I’m a freelance writer and have been at it since 2016, but there’s a part of me that really wants to be an English Literature professor.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

The definitive book on this case is absolutely The Burning of Bridget Cleary by Angela Bourke. I also went through a few podcasts that have covered it.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

The ‘perfect’ reader is one who is perpetually curious and considers multiple perspectives, not just a linear narrative with one reliable narrator.

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