Once again, the marvellous Jim from YA Yeah Yeah has set up a wonderful tour to celebrate the authors releasing novels on May 7th and I’ve been lucky enough to interview UKYA author Jo Nadin. Jo’s latest, Joe All Alone, will be published by Little, Brown.
1. Joe All Alone has a brilliantly diverse cast of characters. With the #WeNeedDiverseYA movement, changes are starting to be made, but do you think UKYA needs to work on?
When I started writing Joe All Alone it was a given that the cast would be diverse as the setting on inner-city London. But more recently I begun to wonder whether I had the “right” to write characters – like Asha and Otis – who didn’t look like me. It’s hard, as often writers can feel that unless they have a direct experience of a specific race or gender or sexuality they should avoid it. But all writing is “making it up”. Joe is white, es, but he’s a 13-year-old boy, which I’m not and never have been. So I think writers, including myself, need to be braver, and write beyond their experience.
2. Joe’s mum hadn’t always been the way she is now, why did you add that element to her character?
We change constantly as people, depending on who we’re close to and who we socialise/connect with. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Joe’s mum has lost a strong sense of self, and allowed herself to be controlled by a succession of men. An all-too common story, and one I have direct experience of.
3. What does your writing day look like? Do you write to a word count, a detailed plan, or do you just run with your ideas?
I am horribly organised – a hangover from working in newsrooms and politics. On work days I start writing at 8am and write at least 1,000 words a day and for at least five hours, with a lunch break if I remember. Sometimes this can mean I get 4-5000 words done. I write a lot of books a year (averaging six) and I’m also a speechwriter, doctoral student and lecturer so I have to be disciplined. This isn’t a hobby, it’s a job and one I love, so I’m committed to it!
A few quick ones!
4. Favourite word?
Licketyspit. Which doesn’t get used often enough.
5. Obsession of the moment?
Pretty Little Liars on Netflix. (Sophie: Mine too! A serious addiction…)
6. Current read?
I’m about to start reading Blue by Lisa Glass, set in my beloved family home of Cornwall, and then it will be Liz Kessler’s Read Me Like a Book, which I’m hugely excited about.
Thank you so much, Jo! I’m in awe of your work ethic! Make sure you pick up a copy of Joe All Alone on May 7th and check out the rest of the stops on the Countdown to 7th May blog tour!