Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Living With a Split Personality: Rebecca Jenkins/Martha Ockley

I'm so pleased to introduce English novelist Rebecca Jenkins to our International Christian Fiction family. Martha Ockley is an alter-ego of Rebecca Jenkins in collaboration with Working Partners. She lives in the North-East of England and has close links with the church, having grown up as the daughter of a minister. She is a full-time author, writing both fiction and non-fiction.

Rebecca, I was so delighted to see your new book The Reluctant Detective in Monarch Books' new catalogue. Tell us about Faith Morgan.

Faith is a woman in her thirties who starts a career in the police-force then comes to believe that she is called become a minister in the Church of England. Her decision to follow her faith into a new career both distances her from her family, who aren't religious, and ends her relationship with her fiancĂ©. Ben Shorter is a career policeman, a rationalist who thinks God and faith a delusion, and he cannot accept her choice. The Reluctant Detective begins when Faith is looking for her first job as a vicar in sole charge of a parish. She is sent to look at a picture-postcard country church outside Winchester where she grew up. So, here she is back home staying with the sister and nephew she has lost touch with, facing some of the costs her beliefs have put her to. What is supposed to be a passing visit is transformed when she witnesses the shocking death of a colleague – the death is suspicious and who should turn up as investigating officer but her estranged love, Ben…

I understand that this concept was suggested to you by someone. Tell us how that came to be.

That is right. A group of creatives at Working Partners came up with the concept and approached me to write it up – that is the reason for the pen-name. I had never collaborated like this before but I thought about the television shows I have loved that are written in much a similar way and I thought I should give it a try. Working Partners were happy to let me develop the story and characters in my own way and I fell in love with Faith Morgan.

And you were able to use your own background in developing the story, isn't that right?

I suppose every writer can't help but do that in some way or other. My family tree is full of vicars on both my maternal and paternal sides. My great-grandfather was a missionary in Canada at the turn of the 20th century. I spent my childhood in and out of vicarages. Later, after I left college, I worked as a communication officer in the Anglican Church – so I am familiar with the world.

I see that you have also written Regencies. I'm a great Georgette Heyer fan. Tell us about these books.

Me too! I love Georgette Heyer's Regency novels! She was a great inspiration. I write a mystery series set in the North East of England in the early 1800s during the Napoleonic wars. (You can read about it at ). My 'detective' is a returning soldier, Frederick Raif Jarrett. Invalided out of the army he returns home where he is sent to the wilds of Teesdale to look after his noble patron's isolated northern properties. There he gets caught up all sorts of mysteries and murders. Jarrett has been a riding officer (a sort of spy) and has been involved in some obscure acts of war. Soldiers like him fought to defend the peace and security of home. Georgian England in reality wasn't that just – so I am interested in the story of man who is thinks all he has done has been done for just reason and yet, when he has to live as a civilian, finds justice a slippery concept.

Do you find it easier to write a contemporary story or do you miss the elegance of the Regency?

I so enjoyed the opportunity to write a contemporary story! I love the Georgian era but there are so many extra details you have to research when the story is set in the past. If I got stuck at some point with The Reluctant Detective I could go to the supermarket or people watch at the station and some overheard conversation would set me going again. You can't do that when you are writing about the 1800s.

And what's next for Faith Morgan?

There are all sorts of plans but at the moment it depends on whether readers take to Faith Morgan. If enough people like her, there will be more to come!

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 35 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning GLASTONBURY, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history,is her best-known work. A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE, book 1 in the Monastery Murders series is her reentry into publishing after a 10 year hiatus. Book 2 A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH will be out in 2011. THE SHADOW OF REALITY, Book 1 The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries, is a romantic intrigue available on Ebook. A MIDSUMMER EVE'S NIGHTMARE, Book 2 in the Elizabeth & Richard series will be out spring 2011.


  1. Both stories, both alter-egos sound fascinating!
    Thanks for sharing!

    (oooh, more mysteries!)

  2. I'm also a Georgette Heyer fan. I used to have probably 20 of her novels, and I wish I hadn't given them away.

  3. Debra and Valerie, sorry to be so late replying. I just got back from a research trip in England and Wales. I met Rebecca there at a lovely writers' day out in York.

    Valeri, I know exactly--I wish I hadn't given away my Georgette Heyer books, too!