Jo Kessel qualified as a lawyer before moving into journalism, working for the BBC and reporting and presenting for ITV on holiday, consumer and current affairs programs. She writes for several national UK newspapers, including the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Express and was the anonymous author of the Independent’s hit column: Diary of a Primary School Mum. Jo lives in London with her husband, three children and recently acquired pet hamster.
Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Weak at the Knees. When did you start writing and what got you into new adult/contemporary romance?
Thank you so much. Whilst Weak at the Knees is only my second novel, I feel as if I’ve been writing forever. I was as young as five years old when I started writing my first short stories, which my mother and big sister loved reading so much that it fueled my desire to write more. I’ve not really ever looked back. Love is what makes the world go round and so I can’t imagine writing a genre that doesn’t include romance in a big way. And the reason I’m drawn to writing ‘new adult’ books is because I feel this is such a pivotal age in a person’s life – when we’re spreading our wings and trying to carve a path for ourselves. It can be quite a traumatic time, full of ups and downs and is of appeal to women of all ages, because if we’re not experiencing it ourselves right now, then we’ve definitely been there and can utterly relate to it.
What was your inspiration for Weak at the Knees?
Whilst I wouldn’t want anyone ever thinking that Weak at the Knees was autobiographical, I did once fall in a big way for a man who was already taken, an experience which I found utterly devastating – writing this book proved quite a catharsis. And inspiration for setting the book in France came from my having spent a magical couple of years working in the French Alps when I was younger. I found the mountain scenery so captivatingly dramatic and emotive, that it seemed an obvious choice when it came to writing this story.
Who is your target audience?
What do you hope readers will get from your book?
I hope that readers will not only be engaged with the romantic plotline, fraught with the heroine Danni’s massive moral dilemma about getting involved with a married man, but that they will enjoy the French setting and feel like they’ve been transported to France to such an extent that they will almost be able to smell the croissants baking and taste the velvety red Chateauneuf-du-Pape wine.
What do you do when your muse refuses to collaborate?
Whenever I hit a brick wall when I’m writing, I stop. I don’t think there’s any point carrying on hoping that inspiration will suddenly come, because chances are that it won’t. So instead I usually go for a good, long walk and usually that helps not just to clear my head, but for the creative juices to start flowing again. Often, by the time I’ve returned from my walk, I’ve got the whole next scene mapped out in my head.
Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?
Where is your book available?
My book is available on Amazon sites worldwide.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?
This quote’s on the front cover of Weak at the Knees: ‘We got so busy living life that we forgot to live our dreams’. Dreams are so important and we all need to follow ours before it’s too late…as the heroine Danni learns in a tragic way. So I wouldn’t ever let a spouse or partner squash those dreams of becoming an author. Do it. Give it a go…because you never know what’s around the corner.