Author interview: Jo Platt

9 Nov

Please join me in welcoming author Jo Platt to One More Page today on the latest stop of her It Was You blog tour. Jo was born in Liverpool and has lived in Wiltshire, London, Seattle and St Albans, before settling in Bristol with her husband and two children. She studied English at King’s College London and worked in the City for 10 years before becoming a pre-school teacher in the US and then a mother and secretary. Her debut novel Reading Upside Down was self-published in 2013, selling over 15,000 copies and has since sold to publishers internationally. Jo Kindly let me ask her some questions about her new novel. Welcome Jo!

Jo_PlattYour new novel, It Was You has just been released. Please could you tell us a little about it and your inspiration for it?

It Was You is a romantic comedy focusing on 32 year-old Alice Waites and her friendships, in particular within The Short Book Group.  Alice has been happily, or perhaps apathetically, single for almost two years, but when her book group friends question her reluctance to meet a man, even for a no-strings coffee, she decides it’s time to start dating again.  Along the way, she uncovers secrets kept hidden by friends and family, and also learns something quite devastating about herself.  It’s a story which made me both laugh out loud and shed a few tears as I wrote it and I hope readers will find it equally funny and touching.

There were so many real-life inspirations for the story that it’s difficult to pick just one.  But obviously, my membership of a very lovely book group hugely influence my decision to make a book group central to the plot.  My Bristol group is, in fact, almost three times the size of Alice’s in It Was You but the group’s friendship, warmth and pathological fear of any novel over two inches thick, is exactly the same.

The story focuses on Alice and her friendships and relationships. What would her Twitter bio say?

Interior designer, daughter and friend.  Doing my best and, fingers crossed, very little harm.

Which character did you find hardest to write and which was your favourite?

Ooh… That’s tricky because I want to say that Stephen was the most difficult to write, but I don’t want to spoil anything for the reader by explaining why.  I think I’ll just have to let everyone draw their own conclusions as to why that was, once they’ve read the book!

As to my favourite character, It Was You is very much an ensemble piece, so I have huge affection for all the characters – even the dreaded Eleanor.  David and Sophie were probably my favourite to write as a pair and if you twisted my arm to pick just one, I’d probably plump for David.  He was written with one of my earliest bosses in mind and he was a man of enormous intelligence, kindness and diffidence.

How do you feel your own experiences fed into the story and what would you like readers to take away from It Was You?

I am blessed with a wonderful family and wonderful friendships and I think It Was You is a celebration of both of those things.  I’d like readers to come away feeling entertained and uplifted, with a sense that there are more good things and good people in the world than bad.  All of the characters in It Was You are flawed, and a few are deceitful and disreputable, but only one gives no hint of having any redeeming qualities whatsoever.  And it’s important to remember that that kind of person is, in my experience at least, very much the exception.

We see Alice venture into dating again during the book; what’s the strangest date you’ve been on? Cover

I once went on a date with my trousers on back to front and no opportunity to sort that out for the first hour or so.  I had a huge bulge of fabric at the front, which made me look pregnant, and every time I tried to sit or bend down, I suffered dreadful workman’s bum at the back.  Not the best start to things, but the evening improved and we’ve now been married for twenty-four years.

It Was You features a book group; what are your top three tips for setting one up?

I have no doubt that our Bristol book group breaks all the rules. But the following approach has worked for us.

  1. Try to have a mix of personalities and backgrounds.  It’s great to have something in common (in our case, we each had a child in Year 6 when we established the group), but don’t feel you have to share the same outlook, or sense of humour.  An eclectic mix of people results in an eclectic choice of books and a broadened reading experience.
  2. As far as practically possible, don’t turn people away.  There are seventeen of us in our book group.  It is, admittedly, a bit of an unwieldy number, but we average about twelve at each meeting and the sense of inclusion is great.
  1. Insist that everybody does their best to read the book, but don’t make it a stipulation for coming along.  I have one friend who is too terrified to attend her book group meetings if she hasn’t read the book.  That isn’t the case in our group and, actually, we have had a meeting where only one person had read the entire book.  The evening therefore consisted of that person telling the story to the rest of us, while we all sat quietly, sipping wine and looking thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.  To be fair, we did all pull our socks up a bit after that.  A very little bit.

And finally … what can we expect next from Jo Platt?

Well, I am currently making myself laugh over Book 3 and hope to have the first draft of that finished by Christmas.  It’s about a tortured, and highly confused, author whose longsuffering agent gives her a good shake and tells her to pull herself together.  And before you ask, it’s not at all based on anyone I know…

It Was You was published by Canelo on 31st October priced £1.99 as an ebook. 

Find out more at: http://www.canelo.co/books/it-was-you/

 

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