Today, I begin a new weekly series — Character Traits — in which I invite authors to share one of the characters in their book(s). It is fitting that Val Penny, author of the Edinburgh Crime Mystery Series, which I’ve read and enjoyed, is the first to go. Val is a big supporter of other authors, including those with our publisher darkstroke books. She’s chosen DS Jane Renwick to profile. I will let Val take over.
ABOUT DS JANE RENWICK: Detective Sergeant Jane Renwick is one of the main female characters in my Edinburgh Crime Mystery Series of novels. It is, therefore fitting that in 2021 she should become the main protagonist in her own series of novels.
We first meet Jane early in Hunter’s Chase, the first of The Edinburgh Crime Mystery books. DI Hunter Wilson describes her to us.
Hunter stopped concentrating on Mackay’s summary; he let him witter on while he glanced around the room. He noted Rachael had moved to stand near the most elegant DS that Hunter had ever worked with: Jane Renwick. They stood at the far side of the room, whispering quietly together, glancing in his direction. Rachael did look tired and stressed, probably due to the early start and putting up with him. He didn’t blame her. Hunter knew he was sharp when things did not go according to his plans.
In contrast, as always, Jane Renwick was immaculately turned out, with faultless hair, nails and make-up. Hunter would have given his eye teeth to know how the woman could constantly look so spruce. He felt more like DC Colin Reid and DC John Hamilton looked: unshaven and dishevelled. Reid and Hamilton both caught his eye and he nodded acknowledgements. Hamilton brushed the crumbs of his breakfast off his face with the back of his hand as Mackay continued talking.
But Jane is not just an elegant woman, but as we learn later in that book, she is also a capable detective sergeant.
Hunter knelt, surrounded by people but completely alone. It felt like an eternity before he heard Jane Renwick’s clear voice.
“I need you all to move back. Come on now, move back. Everybody move back now and make room. Bear, Mel, move everybody back at least ten feet. Now!”
Bear used his body mass and began waving everybody back, while Mel Grant went to get Tesco staff to help. She instructed them to form a cordon of shopping trolleys to keep the inquisitive public at bay. This was probably the most interesting thing the trolley collector had done all week, Hunter thought. The lad looked so proud and took photos of his work, presumably to share later on Facebook and Instagram. Tesco supplied staff so that potential witnesses did not leave.
When I was creating DS Jane Renwick, I wanted a short recognisable first name that was neither exotic nor fashionable this would contrast with her outward attire. She is always smart and well-dressed. The surname had to be more unusual, because that is not her birth name, for Jane had a difficult start in life and grew up in the care system. The character is not based on any real-life person, but is a figment of my imagination, created to fill an important role in the police team that investigates the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries.
Jane is able, likeable, dependable but severely affected by her unfortunate start in life. She feels that this left her alone in the world, unloved and unlovable. However, we learn that she has found her life partner amongst the members of Hunter’s team in Hunter’s Chase.
Is it any wonder that she moves to the Major Incident Team where she will move forward in her own series of books?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her crime novels, Hunter’s Chase, Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood and Hunter’s Secret are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by darkstroke. Her first nonfiction book Let’s Get Published is available now and the first book in the new series centring on Jane Renwick will be published in 2021.