Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Interview with Jo Kessel, author of 'Weak at the Knees'

Jo Kessel is a journalist in the UK, working for the BBC and reporting and presenting for ITV on holiday, consumer and current affairs programs. She writes for several national newspapers including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Express and was the anonymous author of the Independent’s hit column: Diary of a Primary School Mum.
When Jo was ten years old she wrote a short story about losing a loved one. Her mother and big sister were so moved by the tale that it made them cry. Having reduced them to tears she vowed that the next time she wrote a story it would make them smile instead. Happily she succeeded and with this success grew an addiction for wanting to reach out and touch people with words.
P.S Jo’s pretty certain one of her daughters has inherited this gene.
Other books by Jo Kessel include Lover in Law.

Her latest book is the new adult novel, Weak at the Knees.

Visit her website at www.jokessel.com.

Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

Hi there. Well, when I’m not writing I’m chasing around after my three small children. And if I ever manage to escape the mad house then I like to practice yoga (a lot) and to travel. For me nothing is better than whisking myself off to another country and culture and immersing myself in it.

When did you start writing?

I started writing short stories when I was about five years old which my mother and big sister used to love reading so much that it encouraged me to keep putting pen to paper. I’ve never really stopped writing – although it was to be a good two decades or so until I had a go at writing my first full-length novel.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

The most pivotal point of my writing life was at a party just over a year ago. We were merry on wine when this friend happened to mention that Fifty Shades had been self-published. The book had already become a huge success, but I hadn’t realized that that’s how the book had started out. And because I already had a full-length manuscript sitting on my bookshelf, I suddenly decided to give self-publishing a go. I have that person to thank for her passing comments. Her name is Jill Robinson. She’s mentioned in the acknowledgments of my first novel Lover in Law, but she probably doesn’t even remember our conversation, nor realize how pivotal she has been in my writing career. 

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

It would be France. My current release Weak at the Knees is half-set in France, and I have a romantic notion that I would go there, to the mountains where the book is set, to write the next installment.

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Oh my goodness, I would be in seventh heaven if I had that many extra hours a day. I’m always complaining that the days aren’t long enough. But ok, if I had that extra time, I would probably focus on ‘me’ a bit more. There’s so much other stuff going on what with being a mother (I have three small children) and having a career, it doesn’t leave much time for ‘me’. So I’d do more yoga, have more massages, more manicures, more pedicures, go to the theatre more and perhaps even learn how to do something new – like to dance properly.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

I’d probably like to set a story somewhere in the US, probably San Francisco or New York. I love them both and think that one of the reasons EL James was so successful with Fifty Shades was because it was set in America. 

Back to your present book, Weak at the Knees, how did you publish it?

It’s self-published on Amazon, via Create Space for the paperback and Kindle Direct Publishing for the e-book. The whole process has been fairly straightforward.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Yes, you could say that. I spent a couple of years working in the French Alps after leaving University and that proved to be excellent research when it came to writing the novel – although I hadn’t realized I was doing ‘research’ at the time.

Why was writing Weak at the Knees so important to you?

There was a man in my life once upon a time and he completely stole my heart and kept a piece of it there with him. The problem is that he was already taken and I found the whole situation devastating. I think I needed to write this book to get that man out of my hair and to move on.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I must stress that none of my books are autobiographical, but nonetheless, there are things that have happened to me or to people I know which are peppered throughout my work. Otherwise, ideas come from listening to people, hearing their stories, reading newspapers, watching movies…………….ideas are all around us all the time. Little things happen daily that give you gems of ideas.

Any final words?

Somebody recently asked me: “if you’d never heard of you, would you read your book?” And my answer, for many reasons, was “yes”. I like the cover, the synopsis and the French setting (all things I look for when choosing what to read) and sometimes I like to take a chance on somebody new, especially if the book doesn’t cost too much (which my e-book doesn’t) So my final words are, if you’re reading this and Weak at the Knees sounds like something you’d like to read, then please, take a chance on me too. 


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