Thursday, 30 August 2018

Q&A with Jo Platt

     1.   Did you always dream of being a writer?

No – but I have always enjoyed writing.  The first time I found myself daring to hope that I could write for a living was about five years ago.  And I’m just so grateful to now be able to do that. 

2. How did your writing career develop?

I completed my first novel, Reading Upside Down, in 2013 and decided to self-publish it on Amazon Kindle in February of that year.  I publicised the book on Twitter and was completely floored by the love shown for it.   I was taken on by my agent – Camilla Wray at Darley Anderson - in May 2013 and the agency team set to work, quickly finding publishers overseas and then in the UK. Three more novels followed, the most recent of which is, of course, Finding Felix.

3. Your newest novel is calledFinding Felix,what is it about?

Finding Felixis about Dot Riley, who, for all the right reasons, does completely the wrong thing.  Her grandmother is dying and, in order to make her final moments happy ones, Dot tells her that she has found love with an old school friend, Felix Davis, of whom her grandmother was very fond.  In truth, Dot hasn’t seen hide nor hair of Felix for over fifteen years, but when her grandmother begins to recover and declares how much she is looking forward to seeing Felix at an upcoming family wedding, Dot is faced with a dilemma.  Should she tell the truth and risk causing her grandmother hurt and a possible relapse?  Or should she attempt to find Felix and bring him to the wedding?  She opts for the latter, and the hunt is on.

4. What was your inspiration for the book?

The book has its origins in a conversation I had with my sister about all relationships having their time.  I think we’d all acknowledge that the point at which two people meet very much determines a relationship outcome.  There is the couple who seem perfect together but who feel it’s the wrong time to commit.  Or the compatible couple whose paths cross only when they have already committed to other people.  In Dot and Felix’s case, they are first friends at an age when they perhaps don’t know each other, or even themselves, as well as they think they do.  Fifteen years later, they get the chance to put that right.  

5. Can you tell us more about the main character(s)?

Dot is a forward planner in her professional life and the absolute opposite when it comes to personal matters.  In respect of the latter, she is a procrastinator and a denier of the first order.

Felix is presented to the reader from Dot’s perspective and consequently, initially at least, we see him as two very distinct personalities: Felix past (good fun and easy-going) and Felix present (cold and uptight).  The two Felix’s eventually become one, for both Dot and the reader, but it’s a bumpy ride.

6. Where and when do you write your stories?

I generally write on the sofa, or propped up on the bed next to Barry – my cat (see photo).  I am regularly told off about this by a physiotherapist friend, but desks just aren’t for me – unless I’m editing, and then I work in the study.  I’m not sure why that is, but my approach to that part of the process is definitely more businesslike and less cake-crumbs-on-the-cushions.  

7. What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?

I love nothing more than spending time with my family, and that time together has become increasingly precious since my eldest daughter headed off to university in 2017.  When I’m not walking, talking, swimming, holidaying and cinema-going with them, I enjoy doing all those things with friends.  My lone pursuits include reading, piano playing and drawing.  Not exactly rock ‘n’ roll, I know, but what can you do?

8. If you could switch places with a characters from a book, who would it be and why?

This is such a tricky choice.  Can I choose two? Elizabeth Bennett: for her full-length frocks (I have cankles) and the regular opportunities to snog Mr Darcy.   And then, on low energy days, I’d like to be Jane Marple, enjoying constant tea and cake breaks and legitimised nosiness.

9. What books have influenced your life most? 

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is, for me, story-telling perfected, in terms of its message, power and deceptive simplicity.   I first read it in my early teens and remember its literary and political impact on me.

10. What are you working on at the moment?

My fifth novel is currently ‘in development’.  What that means is that I have a plot synopsis and copious notes on all the characters, as well some of the conversations they’re going to have with each other.  I’m feeling very fond of, and protective towards, them already – which, I think, is a good sign.

11. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the creativity and control of writing – sculpting characters, placing them in an imagined situation and then running with it.  

12. Pick three authors you want to have dinner with and tell us why.

G X Todd, Kerry Fisher and Darcie Boleyn.  They are all supremely talented writers and extremely supportive, down-to-earth women.  They love literature - but life comes first.

13. Imagine Finding Felix would be turned into a movie, who would you cast for the main characters?

You know, that’s stumped me, because I have such clear pictures of Dot and Felix in my head that I can’t think of any actors who exactly fit the bill. I might have to request permission to crash your blog at a later date when an answer comes to me!

14. You have written other books as well, can you tell us more about them?

I have written three other books: Reading Upside DownIt Was You and You are Loved.  They’re all romcoms but at the same time quite distinct and, I feel, reflective of where I found myself at the time of writing.  Each deals with tricky issues such as deceit, death and divorce, but – be reassured - in a positive, funny and, I hope, ultimately uplifting way.  I want to acknowledge that life is never a bed of roses, but also that there is humour and hope to be found in the worst of times.

15. How do your own experiences influence your writing?

While my books are far from autobiographical, my personal relationships, insecurities, idiosyncrasies, disasters and mini triumphs do find their way into everything I write.  And while there are always lots of changes and embellishments to transform fact into fiction, personal experience is always at the heart of my novels.  

16. Coffee or tea?

Tea.  Always. And I’m gagging at the thought of coffee as I type.

17.   Paperback or e-reader?

Both.  I honestly have no preference – it’s content and accessibility that counts.

18. Mountains or the sea?

Ooh, I think I’ll go for ‘sea’.  I love the Lake District, but my sister lives on the coast and I envy her the sea every time we visit.

19. Summer or winter?

Winter.  I’m a huge fan of misty mornings, cosy evenings and roaring fires.  Plus, big boots hide my ankles.

20. Sweet or salty?

‘Salty’. And, if we’re being really specific, ‘salty chips’. I would eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could, but fortunately/unfortunately my husband and children gang together to limit my intake.  

Previous Books (if applicable): You Are Loved, Reading Upside Down and It Was You

Genre: Women’s Fiction, romcom

Release Date: 6th August 2018

Publisher: Canelo

Book Blurb: 

A family wedding. A fake boyfriend. A recipe for disaster! A funny, feel-good romantic comedy from bestseller Jo Platt
Singleton Dot Riley’s grandmother, Nanny Flo, is on her deathbed, surrounded by family and distraught at the thought of Dot being all alone in the world. Desperate to make Flo’s final moments happy ones, Dot invents a boyfriend – plumping in panic for her childhood friend, Felix, a firm favourite of Flo, but whom Dot hasn’t actually seen for 15 years.
But when Flo makes an unexpected recovery a few weeks before a family wedding, Dot is faced with a dilemma.  Should she tell her frail grandmother that she lied and risk causing heartache and a relapse?  Or should she find Felix and take him to the wedding?
Dot opts for finding Felix.  But it’s not long before she discovers that finding him is the easy bit: liking him is the real challenge.  
An uplifting romantic comedy about the angst of adult relationships and the joy of rediscovering the child within.  Finding Felix is perfect for fans of Anna Bell, Tracy Bloom and Debbie Viggiano.
Links to Book: 
Author Bio: Jo Platt was born in Liverpool in 1968 and, via the extremely winding route of rural Wiltshire, London, Seattle and St Albans, she is now happily settled in Bristol with her husband and two daughters. She studied English at King's College London before going on to work in the City for ten years. In 2000 she escaped into motherhood and part-time employment, first as an assistant teacher in a Seattle pre-school and then was a Bristol-based secretary to her husband.