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May
18

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my interview with author jojo moyes, plus a book giveaway!

Jojo Moyes

JoJo Moyes wrote a guest post for me years ago, when her novel, The Last Letter From Your Lover, was published. I became an immediate fan and when Me Before You came out, it became one of my all-time favorite books.

I recently got to see her speak about her latest novel, One Plus One, at a luncheon at the Del Mar Country Club, which I covered for the Del Mar Times. It was a great event, and you can read my article about it here. You can win an autographed copy of her book just by leaving a comment below.

I got to spend time alone with Jojo afterwards, and she is so down to earth and so funny, it was like hanging out with a long-time friend. Here’s what our conversation sounded like (minus the parts I promised I wouldn’t write about!):

You know I’ve been a fan for so long now.

Thank you! I remember writing that post for you.

And I’m so happy to discover that there are books of yours I haven’t read yet. I didn’t know you’ve written 11 books!

Well, a couple of them are novellas.

Those count! How are you so prolific?

I think everyone has a natural speed that they write at, and once I start, I’m pretty fast. The biggest problem for me is picturing the book in my head and working out where I’m going to go with it. The one I’m doing now is the slowest, and it’s the longest it’s taken me. I think it’s partly because there’s so much other stuff going on. And, yeah, I’m slowing down. I am slowing down. I can feel it. But I just don’t think anyone can carry on working at this rate. And I’d kind of like a bit of time to enjoy the fruits of my success!

Yes, you should be celebrating!

Yes, this year I’m going to take a bit better care of myself and maybe take a few more holidays. I had one week off last year.

Wow. And did you write every day other than that one week?

Not on weekends but often I was working on other stuff on weekends. One week off was not enough. It nearly killed me.

Jojo Moyes and Lois

That’s an exhausting schedule. It seems like it would be harder, too, because your books are all so different from each other. You don’t have one style or one time period you focus on. How do you come up with such a wide variety of ideas?

I think it comes down to my journalistic training from many years ago. You learn to see stories and to keep your eyes and ears open. My husband, God bless him, walks through life and he could not tell you whether the next door neighbor has moved out or something’s fallen from the sky. He’s so focused on his world. I’m one of those people who just wants to soak everything up. I’m always trying to figure out what makes this person tick, what makes that one do what they did. My brain is constantly going. I always say if I’m sitting in a room with two people, I can get two novels out of it.

That’s a real gift.

It’s not. It’s just called being really nosy!

Do you listen to people’s conversations?

All the time!

So we should watch out if we’re sitting at a table near you?!

I would never reproduce directly anything I heard but what it does is make me go, “Oh, I haven’t seen that kind of person before” or “Hmm, that’s an issue I heard somewhere else. I wonder if this is a thing now.” Last Letter came about because I was eavesdropping on people discussing text messages. I didn’t steal their words but it gave me a wider picture, especially since my cousin had just said she’d never received a love letter and she was in her thirties. I thought, “Okay, something has changed.”

And then you somehow tie them together?

Often, it takes months to figure out how to put them together. Like this book I was telling you about that’s taken a long time to work out. I had a plot and I had a rough setting but something was missing. I couldn’t work out what it was. It wasn’t a book yet. And then I literally had a moment a couple of months ago when I woke up at half past five and went, “That’s what’s missing!” And since I’ve been here in San Diego, something else popped into my head. Often, you need to let your brain be at rest before the thing actually just sorts itself out in the back of your head.

Exactly! I recently wrote a post about my writing process and how I do my best writing while I’m sleeping. That’s when it marinates.

So true. So you would definitely get what I was talking about the subconscious. It’s exactly that. It’s marinating.

You wake up and it comes out but that’s because you’ve been thinking about it constantly.

Yeah, your book is 40% cooking, 60% actual writing.

Do you tell your kids stories?

I used to when they were little. They loved it. Also, I make our animals into characters. When my littlest was a baby, he used to be King Baby and I would put him on my lap and move his arms around and say, “I’m King Baby!” and the other two would be in hysterics.

What about now?

One of the things we still do is talk about funny things that have happened in the family. They love it when we go over and over those stories. We keep those stories alive, which I think is important.

Do you think you’ll ever write a children’s book?

You know, I tried and I couldn’t do it. I think it’s one of those things everyone assumes they can do until they try it. It’s really hard. I just don’t think I have the right tone for it. But you know what? Five years ago I was trying to write for radio and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hear it. Now I have quite a few radio stories on the BBC. Sometimes it just takes a while to unlock it. It’s a completely different skill – like screenwriting is all about the visual. You need to kind of retrain your brain to see things in a different way.

Jojo Moyes books

Speaking of screenwriting, did you have to change a lot of the story of Me Before You for the screenplay?

Not a huge amount. What I’ve had to do is cut quite dramatically which, you know, “kill your darlings” is not a statement by accident. It’s a collaborative effort, and we’re in draft eleven. That should tell you how hard we’ve been working. I’m hoping we’ve kept as much as we need for people to feel they haven’t lost anything in the story.

I’m so happy you’re writing the screenplay. I can’t imagine how authors let someone else write their story.

It amazes me when people give it up freely. That book was so personal to me. I couldn’t hand it over. That being said, I was fully prepared if I rubbishing it that they would give it to someone else – and that was fair enough. But I just wanted a shot at it.

Readers are so passionate about Me Before You, it goes way past just loving the book. What’s been the most surprising thing to you about the public’s reaction?

When the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation got in touch and said they wanted to support it, that was the biggest affirmation to me because I thought, “Okay, they understand what I’m trying to say.” I get so much email from people, and it’s a constant source of joy – the comfort and the kind of inspiration people take from it. And it’s so weird because you have no idea how a particular book is going to be received. I’m very grateful.

Let’s talk about other people’s books for a minute. I loved The Goldfinch as much as you did. What are some of your other favorite books or authors – or do you try not to read too much while you’re writing?

I do try to read a lot but I just literally fall asleep when I read quite often. Kate Atkinson is one of my favorites, and, of course, Barbara Kingsolver. Nora Ephron is my comfort read. I love George R.R. Martin. I love the Game of Thrones series.

Can you believe I haven’t read them?

Gasp! Fantastic characters. And a whole other world. If you’d have told me I’d be reading fantasy and about dragons, I’d say, “Yeah, right.” It’s genius. He is an actual genius. I watch the show, too, but I read the books first. If you start on the books, you have to be prepared to lose three months of your life because you can’t put them down.

That’s how I feel about your books! I can’t put them down!

Thank you so much! It was so nice to finally meet you in person.

For a chance to win an autographed copy of One Plus One, simply leave a comment below. For a second chance, Tweet this:

Contest ends on September 22 at midnight Pacific time. Winner will be notified by return email. Prize can only be sent to a U.S. mailing address.

Comments

  1. She is a new author for me – I would love to win the giveaway.

  2. That sounds like a great read and what an awesome interview. I love the picture, too!

  3. This is great! I have never read anything from her before, but I like her just from your interview! I’ll have to get into some of her work!

  4. What a great interview. You took some lovely photos together too.

  5. Jennifer Williams says:

    I think it is funny that she is not able to do children books – we all have our strong areas. I love that she is writing the screen play, when someone else does it for the author it ends up being so different from the book.

  6. Great interview. I am going to check out her book. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Great interview! I’ve enjoyed all your book recommendations and you sound enthusiastic about this author’s books. I will definitely read what she’s written. Thanks, again, Lois.

  8. I haven’t heard of her but I love trying authors I haven’t read yet. While I have my favorites it’s always nice to read something new.

  9. I don’t know this author but I’d love to win the book and get to know her!

  10. I love her books and you were so blessed to get to know and speak with her, Lois. A wonderful interview.

  11. I just finished reading my latest book. I have been searching for the next one. This author may provide some good choices. The interview was great and I love the picutres.

  12. Ah, also a fan of Barbara Kingsolver. And the concept of marinating. Especially while sleeping.

  13. I love her. Me Before You was a favorite read. I have another one on my Kindle waiting for me. I just need to get to it. This is awesome! I love it. 🙂

  14. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/goodgirlgonered/status/511522099978964992

    Don’t know if you needed to see it. 🙂

  15. Gah! I’m so excited to hear that ME BEFORE YOU will be a film… and the screenplay will be from her, not some funkified version of the book. Hooray!

    (And, yes, I’d love to win her book! Thank you!)

  16. I love Jojo. Thanks for this great interview.

  17. I thought, Me before you, was unique in it’s voice. It could turn into a Hallmark or Lifetime movie with a bad screen writer so it is Great she is writing the screen play for the movie! I will have to look at her other books.

  18. Wonderful interview! I am def going to get this book!

  19. I didn’t recognize the name of this author until I spied it in the picture of the book cover. Now I recognize this author. She is pretty prolific.

  20. She is new to me but she sounds lovely and I would love to try out one of her books.

  21. Fabulous interview, she is a new author to me. Me Before You has just gone to the top of my must read list, before the movie comes out!

  22. I have interviewed authors via email but what fun for this up and close interview.

  23. That was a great interview!! Thank you so much..it looks like you had a great time

  24. I had not heard of this author, but the books look good. I will have to check them out on my next trip to B&N…

  25. I have been looking for a new writer to read and this looks like one that I am really going to enjoy! I don’t know how I have missed these books before but I have a lot of catching up to do! Thanks so much for sharing her with us!

  26. Sorry to say that I’ve never read one of JoJo’s books, but I would love to start with this one!

  27. Great interview. And my reading list grows…

  28. What a great interview – I would love to be able to write books – such a talent to be able to entertain 🙂 x

  29. 11 books! It’s all I can do to crank out a coherent blog post. I.AM.SO.IMPRESSED. Thank you for sharing her story with us.

  30. A great author and a brilliant interview. I would love to win a signed copy of her book!

  31. I’m a huge fan of JoJo Moyes – loved the interview! I’m glad to know that she is writing the screenplay; I’d hate for a book I loved to be turned into a movie that wasn’t up to par.

  32. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    She is one of my favorite authors and i can’t wait to see what the next book is about. Great interview!

  33. Oh now I am totally intrigued by how she describes her new book feels like a different process because “there is so much going on”. One of my favorite things about JoJo Moyes writing is how she makes complicated human interactions so clear. So if she thinks there is a lot going on, this one will be even better!

    I now have some new authors to look up as well! Thank you!

  34. Havent heard of her, but a great interview indeed!

  35. great interview, Lois! I’m not familiar with Jojo but would love to check out her latest novel!

  36. This sounds like a great book that I would LOVE to read!

  37. Sounds like a great book. I may pick it up. Great interview.

  38. Great interview! Another author to add to my list!

  39. I love this interview. It must have been so cool to get to speak with one of your favorite authors.

  40. Amy Desrosiers says:

    I think I am Like Jojo! I am always absorbing the world around me and try to notice everything around me.

  41. Laurie Doyle says:

    I LOVE her books and would LOVVVVEEEEE to win a copy of her new one, One Plus One!

  42. What an inspiration…Someday I plan on working on those books that have been in my head for so long!

  43. great interview. she’s amazing. i haven’t read her latest or the girl you left behind. so looking forward.

  44. ME ME ME ME ME I LOVE JoJo Moyes-and am totally jealous you got to meet her in person-Me Before You was my favorite book last year and can’t wait to read the new one

  45. What a fun interview!! I have not read her books but now I want to.

  46. Wow, fantastic, comprehensive interview! She sounds really nice! I will check out her books and enter the giveaway!

  47. It’s so magical when you get to connect with one of your favorite authors in this way. I’ve had the experience only a handful of times.

  48. Looks like you had a great interview and enjoyed yourself. What a great opportunity to meet the author!

  49. Based on this interview, I’m even more interested in what she writes. I love that she’s not one specific genre all the time.

  50. Fantastic interview. I will be checking out her stuff.

  51. What a great interview …. must have been fun getting to talk to her! Congrats to her on all her success as an author!

  52. Amanda Love says:

    I’ve never heard of her before so it was great actually reading the interview. Gave me a little bit more insight.

  53. Great interview. I’ve never heard of her or her books, but I look forward to reading them and getting to know her more! 🙂 Thank you.

  54. That is so cool you were able to interview her. Thanks for sharing the interview with us.

  55. Fascinating interview. I love her easy smile and friendly spirit. I’ll pick up one of her books to read.

  56. I haven’t read her books, they sound very interesting. I love the interview and now when in public I’ll remember that people might be listening, then using my craziness as a character in a book..

  57. I have an author friend and hearing her schedule between writing, getting it edited, drafts, and then book touring and promotion – plus whatever else she has going on in her life – I don’t know how authors do it.

  58. What a great interview! Very interesting!

  59. Fantastic interview! I think she’s definitely earned herself more than a one-week vacation!

  60. OMG! I bet it was super exciting to do an interview with her.

  61. I don’t read much other than children’s books these days. I will be keeping note of this author for future reference when I get to read big people books again.

  62. That must have been such a exciting day for you. Amazing that you got to meet and interview someone you have been a huge fan of for so long.

  63. I’ve never heard of her, but her books sound amazing. I love authors that branch out into more than one genre. To me, that takes real talent.

  64. This was a fun interview. I imagine when you’re a writer so many things (including overheard conversations as noted) spark creativity. 🙂

  65. I loved reading this interview! I can totally relate to the part about having a husband that is in his own world, while my mind works and deciphers at a mile a minute … writing is therapy! 😉

  66. Its always fun to have the opportunity to interview someone you love reading – this was a great interview!!

  67. Great interview! How cool that the author use to guest post for you! Now she has 11 books – wow!

  68. She sounds like an amazing author. 11 books is no joke! I am glad you got the chance to sit down with her for that insightful interview. I wish I had that chance with some of the people I admire

  69. These look like good books! Thanks for the interview!

  70. So fun to get a peek into the mind of an author. I love that she has a background in journalism. That is what I got my degree in so I love to see what other people are doing with it!

  71. So cool. I enjoyed the interview! I need to check her out! Love that she was down to earth and fun!

  72. I love finding new authors! Thanks for this!

  73. Thank you for introducing her to me. I am going to have to check out her books now.

  74. I’ve heard so much about her and have had her books on my TBR list for so long now, and as they’ve come out. This is an awesome giveaway!

  75. Lisa Neutel says:

    I’m a huge Jojo Moyes fan ..dying to read this book …thanks for the chance

  76. I love it when authors are people we can relate to! She gets her ideas from people sitting around her! I love it!!!

  77. I have been looking for some new stuff to read! I am pinning this so I can find it later!

  78. Have read one of her books for our Bookclub. Now I definitely would like to read more of her books. I am definitely a fan!

  79. Jennifer Huelsebusch says:

    I have heard such great things about her books! I read The Last Letter From Your Lover and loved it! Looking forward to reading the rest!! I also tweeted!!

  80. First read Ship of Brides, then Me Before You, then Night Music….and I hope to read them all. Love her style and subject matter.

  81. Sounds like a great read!

  82. Am I still allowed to enter even if I didn’t like/couldn’t finish The Goldfinch? I did like Me Before You! Does that help? 😉

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