Peggy: ‘Hello Joanna, lovely to meet you dear, do take a seat, I heard you like bubbly, so help yourself, there’s a couple more bottles chilling in the fridge! As you know, I’ve read all your three books and what a story it is. I’ll not say too much, but my my there are some rather mean people in there. Have you met anyone like your characters in real life?
Jo: Pouring a glass of bubbly. ‘Hello Peggy, call me Jo, it’s what’s on the cover! And thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to chat to you –and a glass of bubbly too! I feel really spoilt! Have I met anyone like my characters? No, actually each of the characters is a complex mixture of many people. I take someone as a general building block and then create my character around them. For instance Mel Carpenter, (Ella’s mother), is an unbelievably dreadful woman with no redeeming features at all. She was based loosely on someone I knew way back but I embellished her character, adding in the traits of some of the most awful women I have ever met.’
Peggy: ‘Mmmm, I’d best watch my Ps and Qs or I just might end up in one of your books if I’m not careful. Hoping of course! Now your books are set in the 60s, which I admit to being as being my era, stiletto heels, fab group the Beatles, a wonderful time. But what made a young thing like you want to write about that decade?’
Jo: Blushing: ‘That’s kind of you, I’m…. well never mind, suffice to say, I’ve plenty of recollection from that buzzing decade. I thought the sixties provided a good setting for the story. It was my growing up era too and a very exciting time – the whole world seemed to open up – fashion, music and above all freedom! I grew up in a village but moved to the town when I was 12, so there are elements of the book which are autobiographical. I know there are people who think us baby boomers tend to go on a bit about the sixties, but it really was a fabulous time to be young. Writing the story brought back a lot of memories which helped enormously with the plot.’
Peggy: Smiling wistfully. ‘My dear we have more in common than just your three lovely books I can tell. But life’s not all about writing and living those heady days and when you’re not writing, I hear you toddle of to buy handbags, Radley no less? Yes I see you’ve brought one with you today. Why Radley?
Jo: Laughing and clutching her bag. ‘Yes, I’ve been a great fan of Radley for a long time, I like their style and the colours. I have to admit handbags are one of my weaknesses and I’ve probably got far more than I really need! Shoes I love too, but that’s another story!’
Peggy: Gazing down at her feet slipped into purple low heels. ‘A weakness of mine too as you can see. Fur is the other love of your life and I don’t mean wearing it, but I hear you’ve got 2 cats, lovely creatures, but I can’t be doing with all that fluff everywhere, tell me a little about your fur balls.’
Jo: Flicking an imaginary hair from her skirt, smiles. ‘They are 20 months old, the female (Mollie) is a short haired grey, the male (Max) a long furred ginger and white tabby. They have the same mother but definitely different fathers – it is possible for cats to have a litter by more than one father. They are absolutely nothing alike in looks and in temperament. Mollie definitely has some oriental in her and Max has Maine Coon – he has an enormous tail! They are both very adorable; Max is the more affectionate of the two and Mollie definitely has a mind of her own a very cantankerous female! This week Max visited a neighbour who was in the middle of decorating his lounge and managed to walk through the paint tray typical Max - but Mollie would have rolled in it!’
Peggy: Smirking and looking down. ‘Goodness me, but they sound adorable and as you can see, I’ve got your three books here on the coffee table, but I heard a whisper that you’re having the covers changed, whatever for?’
Jo: Reaching forward picks up one of the books. ‘They are lovely, but I decided like a lot of my fellow indie writers that my books had to be identifiable; that I had to have a brand which said this is Jo Lambert. I did like the original covers but wanted something which looked more professional and instantly recognisable. A friend who had just had a complete makeover with her own covers recommended designer Jane Dixon-Smith. I have to say Jane was absolutely brilliant and the trilogy covers she produced were amazing and just what I wanted. They say a lot about the books and the Jo Lambert brand.’
Peggy: Tutting. ‘I’m sure they are amazing, well I suppose that’s the way it is with the publishing world. So now you’ve got a new image for you and your books, when can we all expect to see another book from you?’
Jo: Sitting up straight and finishing the last drops of bubbly in her glass. ‘I’ve just finished the first draft on Book 4 and it’s about to go for editing. It’s taken longer than I’d planned, but I had to be completely happy with it before I let it go. I have the cover designed and ready and just need to add the back page synopsis. My publisher is lined up too, so it’s all down to how long it will take for me to do the amendments once the editing is complete. I’m hoping for publication in early summer.’
Peggy: Reaching over and refilling Joanna’s glass. ‘A perfectionist I can tell, but that’s how we were made back then. Tell us this it then, 4 books or are you going to delight us with another one?’
Jo: Laughing. ‘Oh no, there are definitely more books! Once you’re as addicted to writing as I am there’s always something going on in your head that makes you think ‘yes, there’s a potential story there!’ Several scenarios have been going round in my head as I’ve been coming to the end of the draft. Once I decide on which one to run with I’ll spend the summer building the plot ready to start writing again in the Autumn.’
Peggy: Raising her glass. ‘Cheers to success and keeping that head of yours filled with likely stories and a few mean characters.’
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