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Author / Writer Spotlight, Reflection

Joanne Harris interviewed

 

Today the UK Metro newspaper 60 seconds column did a feature about Joanne Harris and her latest novel The Blue-Eyed Boys

What’s the book about?

It’s a thriller written in the form of two first-person blogs. My protagonists are members of an online crime fiction writing community. It becomes clear they know each other and something is going on between them. It’s an attempt to subvert the conventional linear thriller.

Did you join any dodgy forums as part of your research?

I’m online just like anyone else and I’m interested in how much deception you can get away with – there’s not much comeback on what you say or do. People tell each other things they’d never say to a real person in the same room. You can develop quite intimate relationships with people without meeting them or knowing if that intimacy is real or false. It may be quite a long time before you discover something about them you’d have known instantly if you met – people’s ages, sex, if they’re disabled or in prison.

One character is synaesthetic. Why are you interested in that?

Because you’re never sure how someone else experiences the world, whether your senses are the same.

Are you synaesthetic?

I’m not sure if its synaesthesia but colours trigger tastes or smells for me. There’s a fashionable shade of dirty yellow at the moment which smells very unpleasant to me. I can’t go into certain shops if there’s too much of that colour.

Your character listens to his iPod throughout the book and you include playlists. Should readers listen to the songs while reading?

It would add another dimension to the story. The playlists give an insight into his psychology and the things he’s done or is going to do. I like the idea of listening to the music while reading the book.

You had to rewrite the book when you got to the twist. Isn’t it easier to plot in advance?

If I plot things out too much, the plot structure becomes more important than the characterisation, which results in dead, lifeless characters. I like to keep the characters as real and surprising as possible. If I don’t empathise with the characters I don’t care what happens to them. I’ll plot the main events and scenes in advance but I’m not always sure how those things will interconnect.

When did you start writing fiction?

I’ve always written, from when I was very little. I wrote pastiches of adventure stories I read as a child – giant apes, jungle explorers, children being fired into space in rockets. I eventually discovered people can be interesting without having to be sent into space and you don’t have to go very far to find an interesting story.

Did it take you a long time to get a book deal?

Yes, I’ve never written things that have been in vogue. When I was trying to break into publishing 20 years ago I was writing vampire fiction, which was completely out of fashion. When I eventually wrote Chocolat no one wanted that either. People were reluctant to accept it. I’m lucky now, my readers are used to me doing different things.

What impact did Chocolat have on your career?

It meant I could give up teaching and write full-time. It gave me the confidence to experiment in other genres.

Have you got any unusual writing habits?

I write on a laptop and can write wherever I am. I don’t have writing rituals although I prefer to write very early in the morning, around five, and write for a few hours. Inspiration is only one part of writing; you don’t have it all the time, so it’s important to learn how to write on the days you aren’t inspired too.


What interests me is Harris’ answer to the second question:

I’m online just like anyone else and I’m interested in how much deception you can get away with – there’s not much comeback on what you say or do. People tell each other things they’d never say to a real person in the same room. You can develop quite intimate relationships with people without meeting them or knowing if that intimacy is real or false. It may be quite a long time before you discover something about them you’d have known instantly if you met – people’s ages, sex, if they’re disabled or in prison.

I feel I am what I am, online or offline. I wouldn’t have acted any different if you were to see me in person or interact with me over the blog. I certainly think book bloggers are a very honest and decent bunch of people who shares a common interest in books. I’m certainly not out here reading and blogging to impress anyone else, and there is no incentive for me to pretend to be somebody that I’m not.

What do you think? Maybe she is referring to dodgy forums over the Internet in general. Do you agree with what she said?

I thought the premise of her new book is intriguing and I’d like to share this with you. I have read any writers who could switch genre like switching over to another TV channel, except Margaret Atwood, maybe Joanne Harris could pull some surprises here. Do you know of any authors like that? Can you name a few so that I can keep an eye on them?

Thanks. 🙂 

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About JoV

A bookaholic that went out of control.... I eat, sleep and breathe books. Well, lately I do other stuff.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Joanne Harris interviewed

  1. Oh, I loved Joanne Harris’ Chocolat. It would indeed be interesting to see how she tackles a different genre. I half agree with meeting people on forums, but when it comes to blogs, I still maintain that bloggers tend to be true to themselves, I guess after a period of reading the same person’s blog you really do get to know that person better! 🙂

    Posted by Joanna | April 9, 2010, 9:05 am

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Ratings Defined

0 = Abandon the book after first chapter

1 = Waste of paper, we will see what the environmentalist say about this!

2 = Skip it, read the book if you have got nothing better to do

2.5 = An average book, easily forgettable.

3 = A good read.

3.5 = A good entertaining read, a page-turner

4 = So glad that I read the book, a book with substance and invaluable for future reference

4.5 = So glad that I read the book, would pester everyone to read it, invaluable, I would want to own it and wouldn't mind a second read (something that I seldom do)

5 = The book is so good that I feel like I am on scale 4 and 4.5, and more, it blew me away and lingers on my head for weeks!

Books Read

JoV's bookshelf: read
Hold Tight
The Fault in Our Stars
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Thief
Mockingjay
Catching Fire
A Tale for the Time Being
Into the Darkest Corner
The Liars' Gospel
Goat Mountain
Strange Weather In Tokyo
Strange Shores
And the Mountains Echoed
Ten White Geese
One Step Too Far
The Innocents
The General: The ordinary man who became one of the bravest prisoners in Guantanamo
White Dog Fell from the Sky
A Virtual Love
The Fall of the Stone City


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Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

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