13 July 2011

Author Interview: Jemma Forte

Author Jemma Forte is back this year with her second novel From London With Love, and a great one it is too. I'll be reviewing it on the site this afternoon, but until then, have a read of this interview Jemma kindly offered to do with me! I had the chance to ask her a few questions about her new book, and about herself too, so get to know a bit about Jemma, and come back soon to read my review of From London With Love! Enjoy!

Q1. Please tell us briefly about your new book 'From London With Love'.

From London with Love is about Jessica Granger, whose father, actor Edward Granger played the part of James Bond back in the 80's. Her mother was famous Bond girl Heavenly Melons so Jessica has grown up in the shadow of her parent's celebrity. Desperate for independence and the freedom to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life, away from people's pre conceptions, she leaves LA and comes to London. It's not long before she finds a job as an assistant at the BBC and falls for Paul, a writer on the show. However, life soon starts to grow rather complicated for Jessica.

Q2. The book is about living a secret life in a new place - where did you get this idea from, and is Jessica Granger/Bender based on anyone in real life?

Jessica is one of my completely made up characters. I say that because there often are characters who are inspired by people I know. I've pinched her name though. My sister's called Jessica.

With regard to the idea, when pondering what to write for my second book, I thought fairly early on that it would be really interesting to explore the idea of what it would be like to have a famous parent. Would it be a help or a hindrance? Would people make assumptions about you and assume you had everything really easy? In order to make it really interesting though, I felt it was important that my heroine had no interest whatsoever in exploiting who she was. No interest in following in her parent's footsteps in the slightest. Quite the opposite in fact. When I finally thought of making the famous parent James Bond, the rest of the plot just fell into place and the book was a joy to write. It also immediately gained so much potential for comedy.

Q3. Jessica's father is famous as being a James Bond actor, and her mother as a James Bond heroine. Are you a fan of the whole James Bond franchise, and did you have to research the films a lot to write characters like this?
I am a huge fan of the Bond franchise and what's so wonderful about it is that, I think most people are to a certain degree. We've all grown up with James Bond, there's always one on at Christmas and the release of a new Bond movie is a massive event. Everyone seems to have their favourite Bond and something to say about why. It's such a famous brand that it also comes complete with catchphrases, villians and Bond girls we've all heard of, so a lot to tap into. The research part was really fun.

Q4. The book is very funny, and I was often laughing out loud. How easy do you find comedy writing, and do you enjoy reading books like this yourself?

I am so delighted you found it funny because that is exactly what I was trying to achieve when I wrote it. Personally, I think being funny is a terribly under-rated thing and I love nothing more than reading a book that makes me laugh out loud on the train. I think my style lends itself well to comedy because I love writing dialogue and trying to create really three dimensional characters. If writing makes someone laugh I tend to find that it's because you've hit on a truth that resonates with the reader.

Q5. Your book cover for 'From London With Love' is very different to that of 'Me and Miss M' - how much input do you have into your covers, and how important do you think book covers are for both authors and readers?

I think unless you're a big brand writer you have very little initial input with your covers. The art department at your publishers come up with it, in collaboration with your editor. You're right when you say my two book covers are different, though I have to say, I like them both. From London with Love is particularly pretty. It's VERY pink but the artwork is beautiful and the overall feel is quite Holly Golightly.

I think the cover is unbelievably important as it has to try to capture the very essence of your book, and is what the vast majority of the book buying public are basing their purchasing decision on. I'm convinced that some not so great books have done really well because of a fabulous cover and vice versa. If you get a bad jacket you might be over before you've begun!

Q6. What inspires you to write your books?

People. People fascinate me.  I love working out what makes people tick, why they say the things they do and how we are all a product of our own unique upbringings. I'm also inspired to write because I find it such an enjoyable way of passing time. This might sound ridiculously basic but I like writing stories.

Q7. You've recently started a fan page on Facebook, and you've used Twitter for a while too. How important are these social networking sites for authors, and what effect do you think they have on authors as a whole?

I think they're pretty important and publishers kind of expect it now. I think Twitter is a very useful tool for finding out what other people in the industry are up to, though I have to say the majority of my own tweets tend to be banal ramblings about nothing in particular. Facebook is brilliant in terms of people being able to find you, particularly readers from overseas. I also have website now which I blog on and that I really enjoy.

Q8. What do you do when you aren't writing books?

Look after my two children, vaguely try and keep the house in order, the clothes washed and the fridge full. I also go for castings for commercials, and present about twice a week on a live shopping channel selling all manner of stuff till quite late at night. When I'm not working, ensconced in  domestic drudgery or writing. I like going for a run, doing a spot of yoga, reading, reading, reading, cooking, seeing my friends, wrestling with my children and (in the case of last night) drinking too much at Take That concerts.

Q9. Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I love anyone whose story engages me on an emotional or intellectual level, makes me want to keep turning those pages, or makes me laugh heartily. Caitlin Moran does ALL of the above with 'How to be a Woman.' I really respect and rate Lisa Jewell who tells great stories that aren't standard boy meets girl stuff which I get a bit bored of. Eleanor Moran is a newer writer who I think is fab. Like everyone else I loved One Day so much and The Help is utterly brilliant. I read Jo Jo Moyes' 'Last letter from your Lover' and was blown away by how beautiful it was and was completely swept away by the romance of it. One of my all time favourite 'chick lit' books is Marian Keyes' Rachel's Holiday. I adore the fact that the subject matter was actually incredibly dark.

Q10. Finally, are you working on a third book? If so, can you tell us something about it?

I am. In fact, I have finished another book though I'm not convinced yet it's going to be my third. It may be my fourth as I now want to develop another idea first. Confused? Me too! Still, as soon as I have it figured out I will let you know!

Thanks so much, Jemma!

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1 comment:

  1. Heavenly Melons! LOL! Sounds like a great book!

    Mandy x