Author Ana Johns Answers all our Questions
- Latest Book: The Big Five-O
- Can you give us the ‘elevator pitch’ version of your latest book.
Four women plan a shared birthday party for their Big 5-O but each one of them is keeping a secret…
- Tell us something about yourself that we likely don’t know! The more obscure the better!
I coined the phrase “Writer’s Bottom” – that occupational hazard that befalls many scribes when they are spending long hours at the computer….
- Do you write in silence, or with music? If you write to music, give us the top three songs on your writers’ playlist this week.
I write to the radio – on fairly low so it doesn’t distract me TOO much. Radio Four until The Archers is over at 2.15pm, then I switch to Radio Two for some songs… You need jaunty ones when writing comedy and sad ones when you’re attempting the poignant bits.
- Are you a plotter or pantser?
These days I’m a plotter.
- Have your characters ever ‘gone off script’ – hijacked your story and taken it in a direction you didn’t expect?
I don’t allow that! I make sure they always remember they are MY inventions and I will jolly well decide what they do…
- If you could spend time with any character from any of your books, who would it be and what would you do?
I’d go on a lovely holiday with Ben from my very first novel, Raising the Roof. And I’ll leave the details to your imagination…
- Which of your characters can you say you would least get along with in real life?
There’s a rather horrible little creep in Perfect Alibis called Jed.
- Do you read your reviews?
- What has been the toughest criticism you have been given since becoming a published author?
My last novel Mum in the Middle got a one-star review entitled “Repetative and boring” (sic). My fiercest critcs can never spell 🙂
- What is the best compliment you have received?
I met a woman who spent at least five minutes eulogising about my novel One Glass is Never Enough – going into detail about all the different scenes she admired – while I preened. She finished by congratulating me on a great book, adding: “I just love those trashy novels….”
Recently the lovely Sunny Ormonde who plays Lilian in The Archers read the same book and compared me to Joanna Trollope. Now that really IS a compliment…..
- Do you have a day job when you are not writing? If so, what do you do?
I’m a speaker, I do some presenting, I interview other authors at literary festivals. I am part of BroadstairsLit www.broadstairslit.co.uk and I occasionally teach creative writing.
- Can you name three authors who have inspired your writing?
Fay Weldon, Marilyn French, Joanna Trollope. (Read all three in total awe).
- What was your favourite book as a child?
The Secret Island by Enid Blyton.
- What scene in your latest book was the hardest scene to write (without giving away too many spoilers!)
I am not very good at writing sex. I tend to gloss over the squelchy bits. There is a scene with a certain amount of bare flesh that I had to brace myself for.
- Do you have any other author friends? If so, can you name a few and have any of them given you a piece of advice you would consider invaluable on your publishing journey?
Oh, I have so many! Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell have been so supportive. I met them both early on when they quoted on my novels. Jilly Cooper and Frederick Forsythe were incredibly generous with their time when I wrote Wannabe a Writer? Even though they didn’t know me from Adam! Writers are, on the whole, hugely helpful to each other. Janie Millman (Life’s a Drag and Sky’s the Limit) is a dear pal… (Check out her fab writing retreat venue www.chez-castillon.com ) Katie Fforde taught me about the backward synopsis if one gets stuck…
For Bonus Points – Answer four fabulous frivolous questions!
- What is your biggest fear?
Some sort of gruesome death.
- If you could have any superhero power, what would it be?
To be able to fly.
- If you could write one line to be etched into your tombstone, what would it read?
Please look after my cat.
- If you could give your younger self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t sweat the small stuff – things are usually meant to be.
Many thanks to Jane Wenham-Jones for taking the time to speak with us. If you would like to know more about Jane, you can visit her author page here for more info, or follow her on Twitter or Facebook
You can purchase Janes latest book: The Big Five-O here on Amazon.