31 January 2012

Author Interview: Jessica Thompson

Yesterday I brought you a review of Jessica Thompson's fab new novel This Is A Love Story. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing the author herself, Jessica Thompson, and asking her a few of my burning questions about the book, her plans for a second novel, and a few other things in between as well! My thanks go to Jessica for answering my questions, and to Lucy at Hodder for helping organise this. Please enjoy, and do take a minute to check out my review of this fantastic book too!

Q1. Please tell me about your new book This Is A Love Story.

This Is a Love Story is a modern 'will they won't they' tale with a twist. Set in London, the story begins when Nick and Sienna meet eyes over a copy of The Metro. Over a five year period the two share an unusual 'friendship' where they try to hide/fight their feelings for each other with sometimes hilarious effect. The humour is very British, the topics are wide ranging, and many people will be able to relate to this story and all the confusions that come with modern relationships.

Q2. Sienna and Nick are fantastic characters, and both equally loveable in their own ways. Could you pick a favourite between them?!

I couldn't pick a favourite between Nick and Sienna. I can obviously relate to Sienna more because she is a woman, but I thoroughly enjoyed writing Nick's chapters too. I became very attached to them in the writing process and they felt like real people in the end! I feel like I know them inside out. Who they were as characters was very clear in my head from the first line, and I think that's a good sign. I'm delighted that they turned out how they did and that I was able to bring them to life in this way.

Q3. There is a really serious storyline in the book involving Sienna and her father, and their relationship was perhaps my favourite in the book. How did you come about deciding to put this particular storyline in, and what research had to go into it to ensure you portrayed it accurately?

The narcolepsy thread in This is a Love Story was inspired by knowing a man who has the condition. A lot of the film and television depictions of narcolepsy can poke fun at it, and I had already been exposed to narcolepsy through the media before I met him. But when I did get to know him, my experience was totally different. All my expectations were turned upside down. I found myself unable to stop thinking about him and the life he lives, and I was keen to incorporate this kind of experience into my story by creating a character with narcolepsy. I was struck by how sad and debilitating the condition is, but also how positive and inspiring this man is, and how he always has a smile on his face. I respect him greatly for this. I carried out a lot of research, and consulted sites such as Narcolepsy UK (http://www.narcolepsy.org.uk/).

Q4. I think the cover of your book is gorgeous, and even better in real life than it looks on a computer screen! What was your reaction when you first saw it, and was it what you imagined for the book?

I am glad you love the cover as much as I do! The artist, Zeena Shah (http://www.zeenashah.com/) has done a wonderful job and I'm so thankful to her. When I first saw it I was delighted. I actually rang my friend Louise as I was opening the envelope and it was a moment I will never forget. My publisher's direction and guidance in creating the perfect cover has been invaluable. I have total trust in their ideas and judgement.

Q5. How did you feel when you got your publishing deal with Coronet, and how amazing has it been to be on the publishing journey with your book? What has been the most exciting part of your publication journey so far?

When I first got my publishing deal I was in shock in the best possible way. I still to this day can't believe it has happened, and I just feel so grateful to everyone who has been involved. The year before publication has gone so quickly and I just feel like I've been walking on air. The best bit so far (after the initial deal with Hodder) was finding out that there was such positive interest from publishers overseas. It will be published in Germany, Spain, Brazil and the Netherlands, and that for me is the biggest compliment I could have wished for, and the icing on the cake after getting a deal with Hodder. Getting to know staff at Hodder better has also be wonderful and of course, lunch meetings with my agent Sheila Crowley are something I very much look forward to.

Q6. This Is A Love Story has a pretty simple title which describes the book to a tee. How did you come about choosing this title for your book, and how long did it take you to write the book overall?

The title came to me one weekend while I was brainstorming ideas with my parents. It is simple, but I think I was attracted to it because there are several love stories in my book, whether or not they are conventional romantic ones. Sienna's relationship with her father and Pete are love stories in their own right, just of a different kind.

Q7. Chick Lit does take a bashing in the press and with other readers a lot - what are your thoughts on the term, and how do you feel about your books being classified as chick lit? Are you a proud chick lit author!?
I know that the chick lit term is a subject of hot debate in the book world and brings about a lot of strong feeling. I think it's natural for things to be put in boxes and categories. The same happens with music through titles like "pop", "rock" and "hip hop" even though it might encompass several different genres and styles. I feel that as long as people enjoy my work I don't mind what box it goes in. It's all so subjective and down to personal opinion. I don't think the term chick lit is damaging, but I do think it's a shame that women's writing is separated in this way and we do not see this with the work of male authors. I think that is one of the main issues with the term and why it stirs up so much debate.

Q8. What do you do when you aren't writing books? What inspired you to become an author?

When I'm not writing books I'm either at my full time job as a reporter, in the gym, running or seeing my friends. My life is pretty busy, but I like it that way. I have always been writing creatively, and I wrote a little novel when I was about 14. I think it was always there but I didn't necessarily realise it. I had focused on journalism for my studies in my late teens and then eventually that became my career. When I was contacted by Mark Booth from Hodder about my feature writing, I was so excited to send him some of my creative work and I'm so pleased it has worked out how it has.

Q9. Who are some of your favourite authors, and could you name your top three books of all time?

I love the work of so many writers, particularly Jojo Moyes, Lionel Shriver and James Frey. I also love the classics, such as Dickens and Austen among others. I find the writing styles of Caitlin Moran and Charlie Brooker hilarious, and I feel really inspired by their humour. Favourite books include Moyes' Last Letter from Your Lover, Lionel Shriver's We Need to talk about Kevin, and I was really impressed by Julian Barnes' The Sense of an Ending. I know there was a lot of controversy surrounding James Frey's A Million Little Pieces, but I thought the writing was fantastic and it evoked really strong feelings in me. I have also enjoyed a lot of the texts for my university course, including Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev and Alice Walker's The Colour Purple. My taste is very varied!

Q10. Finally are you working on another novel (please say yes!) and if so, can you tell me something about it?!

I am working on another novel. The first draft is complete, and I am now on the initial editing phase. I have loved writing this book as much as I did the first, and I hope I can write many more. The story is not a follow on from TIALS. It is a little more complex and involves a series of threads occurring separately and then overlapping. I am excited to be able to get some more feedback on it.

Thank you for interviewing me, and for your support.

Thank you so much, Jessica!


  1. Fab interview Chloe! This book sounds amazing and I can't wait to read it.

  2. It is an amazing book. I recently finished it and thought it was just brilliant. The characters were very well written and the writing just flowed. I can't wait to read more of Jessica's work. Highly recommend :) x