Meet the author: The Lost Man writer Jane Harper

Jane Harper.
Jane Harper.

She is the British writer who, in just two short years, has taken the book world by storm.

Jane Harper has clinched a string of awards with her best-selling trio of thrillers set in her adopted Australian homeland.

The Dry, The Force and The Lost Man have gripped readers around the globe; the first becoming a film and the latest – now out in paperback – a Richard & Judy Book Club pick for summer.

The Manchester-born former journalist, who lives in Melbourne with her husband and two-year-old daughter, has Scots blood in her veins, and grins: “I was weaned on Oor Wullie and The Broons!

“My granny lived in Edinburgh and I visited her all the time. She used to save me the Oor Wullies – she would have stacks of them cut out and waiting for me. I have very fond memories of The Sunday Post.”

Jane, 39, who will be returning to Edinburgh and Glasgow next Sunday and Monday as part of a UK tour for the The Lost Man, admits her success has been something of a whirlwind.

She began The Dry in 2014, setting herself a six-month completion target – just enough time to submit it for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript.

She won, landed a three-book publishing deal, and hasn’t looked back.

Jane says: “I wanted to write the kind of novels I would like to read – page-turners with mystery and strong characters.

I also wanted to set them in Australia because the diversity, brutality and beauty of the landscape offers a lot to writers.

“I loved writing The Lost Man. I went up to the outback in Queensland in February last year to research it and met a retired police officer who had single-handedly policed an area the size of the UK.

“He drove me 600 miles across the desert, told me his stories and let me ask questions.

“It was a great opportunity to get an insight into a part of Australia few of us ever really get to see.”

And it paid huge dividends. “The Lost Man centres around three brothers who work on these vast cattle stations,” she says.

“The middle of the two brothers is found dead in the outback a long way from his vehicle with no supplies. The circumstances are suspicious given that he knows the land so well.”

Jane will be “In Conversation” with Inspector Rebus writer Ian Rankin at Waterstones, Princes Street, Edinburgh, on Sunday and at Aye Write! at the Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow the following day.

She smiles: “It’s a real honour to be interviewed by Ian. I have loved his books for a lot of years.

“Becoming a novelist has changed my life in so many ways. I know it’s a cliché, but it has been a dream come true for me.”

Jane Harper, The Lost Man, Abacus, £7.99