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Fiction-Net > Author Interviews > Lisa Jewell Interview (2)

Lisa Jewell InterviewLisa Jewell Interview (2)

Lisa Jewell's debut novel, Ralph's Party, became the top selling debut novel of 1999. Following the recent release of her second novel, Thirty-Nothing, Lisa talks to Fiction-Net about maturing as a writer.

Fiction-Net: So Thirty-Nothing has been released. Do you feel any different than you did when Ralph's Party hit the bookstores?

Lisa Jewell: Incredibly different. When Ralph's Party came out, I was still in this painful, deluded state of conviction that the whole thing was a terrible mistake, that nobody would buy the book and it was all going to be a catastrophic disaster. So even though it was incredibly exciting, it was also very surreal and nerve-wracking. This time round there has been so much confidence surrounding publication that it's even rubbed off on me!

I've been looking forward to the launch for weeks and now it's finally here, it's even better than I thought it would be. There's been loads of really great publicity and very positive reviews and to cap it all off, Thirty-Nothing has just gone straight in to the best-seller charts at number four! I've enjoyed it much more this time around.

Fiction-Net: The general consensus is that the writing-quality of Thirty-Nothing is the biggest difference - would you agree?

Lisa Jewell: Definitely. When I read back through Ralph's Party, some of the prose and dialogue really makes me cringe. I was very careful to avoid writing anything that I thought might come back to haunt me later. Also, because I had much more of an idea of where this book was going right from the start, unlike Ralph's Party which was a very organic, hit and miss book to write, I think there's more confidence in my writing - it probably seems to flow more smoothly.

Thirty-Nothing by Lisa Jewell - Book Review

Fiction-Net: When we last interviewed you, you said "I still find it hard to believe that I've been published". Still feel the same?

Lisa Jewell: Absolutely - but these days it doesn't hit me every few minutes like it did at first. Now I just have a reality check moment every couple of days!

Fiction-Net: So anything planned for your third release, or are you planning to relax for a while?

Lisa Jewell: Ha! Relax! You have got to be joking. I started writing book number three in January, at the same time as I started planning my wedding. Big mistake. The two activities just did not complement one another at all and consequently, when I got back from my honeymoon in July, I read through what I'd written and it was appalling. So I took a very deep breath and started again.

I'm now 100 pages in - not bad for a month's work - and have until the end of January to finish. Basically, that's 25 pages a week, which may not sound a lot, but really it is. Interestingly though, having this pressure on me for the first time has proved to be very inspiring and I'm really enjoying writing at the moment. When you're writing at that pace it's more akin to reading a book and hence much, much more fun.

This third book, One Hit Wonder, is about a twenty five year old girl who comes to London from the West Country when her thirty-six year old sister dies. She only intends to stay long enough to sort out her estate but ends up getting embroiled in her sister's life and falling in love with her dead sisters best (male) friend. It's like a cross between Desperately Seeking Susan and After Hours, with plenty of interesting and quirky characters and scenes of London life.

One Hit Wonder by Lisa Jewell - Book Review

Fiction-Net: In Ralph's Party, Smith and Ralph were inspired by your then-boyfriend and his brother. Were there any similar inspirations for the characters of Thirty-Nothing?

Lisa Jewell: Hmm, kind of. I started off with this old-fashioned idea of friends realising they're in love and because I've never had a strong platonic friendship with a man, whenever I got stuck or wasn't sure how a character might act or respond to a certain situation arising out of that platonic friendship, I'd think of my brother-in-law - again, he's going to start asking for a share of the royalties soon - and his friendship with a girl called Karen. However, I hasten to add that their stores are completely different - they both have lovely partners of their own and harbour absolutely no secret desires for each other!

Fiction-Net: Your website seems to be a something you're keen to keep up-to-date. Do you see the internet as a valuable method of promoting your work?

Lisa Jewell: It's hard to qualify how effective my website is in terms of promoting my work. I get hits every day but who knows who from or what they think of my site?

The thing I like best about having my own website is the contact it gives me with readers, with the people who actually went out and spent their hard-earned cash on my books and liked it enough to write and tell me. Feedback is incredibly important to me - it really brings what I do all day, every day, to life. I'm as excited as a little kid when I open my e-mail and find a note left there by a teenage boy, describing reading the book in one afternoon while sitting in Sydney Harbour. Or an eighty-two year old man who read it in bed until two o'clock in the morning to finish it. Or the woman who hadn't read a book in ten years and enjoyed it so much that she went straight out and bought a book by Marian Keyes. Or the man from Essex who proposed to his long term girlfriend after reading it. Or the accountant from Surrey who wrote a song inspired by it. Or the American traveller who found it in a beach bar on a tiny island south of Cuba. Or the girl who simply wrote to tell me that for some reason that she couldn't quite put her finger on, it had made her feel more hopeful about her future, her work and her relationship.

We all know the indescribable joy of getting lost in a good book and nothing beats the feeling of knowing that someone out there has had that experience with the book that you wrote. Without my website and without e-mail, I would be unaware of all this.

Ralph's Party by Lisa Jewell - Book Review

Fiction-Net: And what else are you using the internet for these days?

Lisa Jewell: Procrastinating, mainly. I spend an hour on the net every morning when I wake up. most of which is spent checking the progress of my books on various bookshop sites and reading customer comments. Sad, I know.

I also occasionally use the internet for research when I'm writing. For example, there is this great service called The Knowhere Guide which is a bulletin board style guide for different areas of the country. I had a character who came from Felixstowe and I needed to name the main shopping street so I went to this site and found a listing for shops in the area and when I wanted to describe a terrible meal of offal that my characters in Thirty-Nothing were served, I found a website full of awful-sounding innards recipes which I adapted.

Want to read more from Lisa Jewell? See our First Interview with the author.

Read more about Lisa Jewell at Fiction-Net. You can also visit the Lisa Jewell Twitter or Wikipedia pages.

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