Jessica Thompson came into the author world in 2012 with her debut novel, This Is A Love Story: But Not Every Story Is The Same. It was then closely followed by her second novel Three Little Words: They Mean So Much. Now, we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Paper Swans, out on 31st July – which I will have a review for on that day! I sat down with Jessica to discuss her writing life and of course, some fun questions were thrown in as well…
Q. First of all, thank you for taking the time out of your busy lead up to Paper Swans. You must be thrilled to have a third novel going into the hands of readers. For those who have been living under a rock, what is Paper Swans about?
A. It’s a pleasure. Thank you for having me! Paper Swans is essentially about a life-changing love… You can have different relationships over the years, but few of them alter you in a big way, or change the course of your life significantly. Ben Lawrence comes across as so carefree. He seems to have it all, but no one knows what’s really going on beneath the surface. He is haunted by a tragedy in his past, and is slowly being destroyed by the memories of it. It isn’t until he meets the kind of woman he’d never normally approach, that his life is transformed. The book explores the reality of mental illness too. It’s a subject I’m deeply passionate about.
Q. Ben Lawrence, the main male character sounds HOT! Do you ever base your male characters on a celebrity in order to bring that sex appeal across?
A. I don’t tend to nowadays, though I’m sure I’ve been inspired by them in the past (ahem, Jake Gyllenhaal!). The characters and how they look, speak and behave, usually form clearly in my mind. It’s like they have a life of their own, so I tend to just take it from there, as that’s more than enough to work with!
Q. Effy Jones, the main female character seems very edgy. How did you enjoy writing about her and did you put any of yourself into her?
A. Thank you! I like that description of her. I absolutely adored writing about Effy Jones, she felt like a friend to me by the end of it all and I was sad to stop writing. I think when I’m creating characters I always put a little bit of myself into all of them, whoever they are, so I can write from the heart. It’s almost inevitable to draw from experiences, thoughts I might have had, and observations about the world. They are all projected onto the page in some way, but not in the literal sense. I went to Uganda and volunteered for a children’s charity in my early twenties, so those sections are closely inspired by my experiences. Apart from that though, she is really quite different to me. (And much, much cooler!)
Q. Your books are Chick-Lit but they always come with some sort of unexpected twist. I can’t give an example without giving the plot of the other books away so readers go buy them and you’ll understand. Did you continue with the twist in Paper Swans or have you kept it mellow this time?
A. I did continue with a twist yes… (Eeeek). That’s all I’m going to say!
Q. You’re published by Hodder and Stoughton, for the readers of my blog who wish to become an author, what tips would you give them in finishing the first manuscript and then finding an agent?
A. Well, this is a tricky one because I met my agent, Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown, before I wrote my manuscript. I was a journalist at a local paper and was spotted by a gentleman who works for Hodder. I provided him with more examples of my writing, and he kindly sent them to my now agent Sheila, who invited me in for a meeting. That was when This is a Love Story was born! I do know however, that events and groups agencies and publishers organise (such as the Curtis Brown Creative Group), are fantastic opportunities. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for things to get involved in like that.
Q. If you could write a book with ANY other author, who would it be and why?
A. That’s tricky! I would go for David Nicholls who wrote One Day. It was a masterpiece and I could learn so much from him. I’d have millions of questions, and I would take pages and pages of notes. He’s a legend.
Q. Is there any book in the world which you’d wish you’d written?
A. Apart from One Day… hmmm… there are many I could name, but I’m going to go with Angel by Elizabeth Taylor. I wrote a long, rambling blog post about it here on my blog (http://jessicathompsonbooks.com/2014/05/04/my-new-favourite-book-angel-by-elizabeth-taylor/). In short, the writing is stunning. It’s all about a novelist who I admired for her strength and determination. I think she’s a fascinating character that you love and despise all at the same time. In my view, that kind of relationship with a character is the result of very good writing. It’s genius.
Q. How has social media and especially book bloggers changed your writing career?
A. It’s tricky to know how it has changed my career, as I was published when Twitter was booming and the blogging community was already well established. I would say though, the support from bloggers has been unreal and has helped me so much. I’m hugely grateful to everyone who has got behind me. I was welcomed with open arms from day one, and that’s made a positive impact on my confidence and starting off my author social media ‘presence’. It’s also wonderful to hear from readers of my books who get in touch with me via my Facebook page and Twitter. Social media makes that more instant and much easier. That contact and feedback has certainly kept me going. It makes the long hours totally worth it.
Okay, now for the quick fire round…
Favourite ice cream flavour? Cookie dough
Best film you’ve seen this year? I Give It A Year
All time favourite character from Harry Potter? Errr… Harry?
Favourite book you could reread over and over and over again? Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Tea or coffee? Coffee (I’m totally dependant on it)
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Paperback or Kindle? Paperback
Cinema or DVD? DVD
Internet or TV? Internet
Favourite holiday destination? Paris
Dream job? Author