Tonight we have a change to our advertised guest, and I am delighted to welcome to the blog the author of one of my Top Ten Books of 2018, Jo Furniss.
Welcome, Jo. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, a little earlier than expected! First things first, what are you drinking?
Day or night, I do enjoy a nice cup of tea. But as it’s a special occasion, being here on your blog, I’m going to have a Bloody Mary with plenty of spice. Thanks.
The one cocktail that I can’t stomach, although The Irishman loves them. I’ll have a mojito, I think. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?
We’d nip to Singapore on my own private Concorde, and I’d take you to an outdoor eatery called Gluttons Bay, where we’d combine cheap local street food with a Michelin-star view of the city. Drinks-wise, we’d switch to Tiger beer or a fresh coconut.
That would be amazing, I have always wanted to go to Singapore, but haven’t made it there yet. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?
That would be Roald Dahl because I think he’d be a bit of a rogue. And Margaret Atwood because, you know, hero!
I’m currently writing my third novel, which has no title yet. That’s freaking me out a bit, the lack of title! But I do have a first draft. This novel is another domestic thriller. It tells the story of a young American journalist, Rose, who moves to the UK to live with her British husband in the village where he grew up. She’s never visited Dylan’s homeland before, and she soon discovers that both Dylan and his family are unpopular – pariahs, even – and ostracized from the local community. When a body is found in the grounds of his family home, fingers point at Dylan, and Rose has to use her investigative skills to unearth his secrets.
I started writing this book last year, shortly after I moved back to the UK after 15 years abroad. So it’s about those links with home, relationships with people in your past, and how much we change – really, deeply change – over the years.
That sounds really interesting. Your books have each been so different, so far. What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?
Once upon a time, I would have said that my biggest challenge was writing my first novel, All The Little Children. But, now, I feel that this third novel is my biggest challenge yet. On a practical level, I’m writing to deadline for the first time. And there’s more to prove, more to lose. The pressure is on!
My proudest moment, for sure, was seeing that first novel in print and online. It went to #1 in the US Kindle Store and became one of the biggest-selling Kindle titles of 2017. Most importantly, it reached so many readers and I love that human connection.
You forgot to include being in my Top Ten Books of 2018 as one of your proudest moments, LOL. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!
Well, it would be nice to win awards and plaudits and top the best-seller charts and have Netflix adaptations and all the hoop-la… but mainly I’d just like to write a novel that I’m really proud of, with characters that stick in the reader’s mind as though they’d met in real life.
Well, you already achieved that for me. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?
I’m excited about this third novel – the One With No Title (which makes it sound like an episode of Friends). I’m at the stage where I’m fleshing out the characters, bringing them off the page, and that’s my favourite part of the writing process.
On the side, I’m also hoping to write a story for my son. A couple of years ago, I wrote one for my daughter and had it printed into a book, just for her. So now I owe him one! I’ve recently dreamed up a story so now I need to write it. It’s fun to write something without worrying whether it’s good enough to be published – it’s just between me and my kids.
That is such a lovely thing to do! I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?
Top of bucket list is the Galapagos Islands. I will get there eventually. I’ve been lucky enough to live on three different continents and I’ve traveled a lot for work and pleasure, so I have many favourite places that hold wonderful memories. If I could click my fingers right now and teleport, I would be snorkeling alongside my kids somewhere in Indonesia where the sea is so shallow and warm, you have to get out to cool down! Generally speaking, I like being warm.
Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.
I was once arrested on suspicion of spying.
Okay, that is a story that needs further development if we ever meet in real life! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?
Only one?! That’s hard. I recently read the auto-biography of one of the UK’s top forensic pathologists – Unnatural Causes by Dr Richard Shepherd – and it was a great insight into the science and art of the autopsy. We often read about the post mortem examination in books, but here’s the real thing!
This would not be my usual taste in books, even non-fiction, but I will add it to my TBR. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?
Eat carbs before drinking. Alternate alcohol and water. And if you end up with a hangover despite this excellent advice, then call in a favour and get someone else to look after your kids for the day. Kids plus hangover equals hell.
After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?
We’d go to lunch with a load of inspiring writers. Or just read their books on the flight back from Singapore.
Jo, thank you so much for being on the blog tonight, it has been lovely to talk to you and find out more about you and I can’t wait to read The Book With No Title when it comes out.
You can find my review of Jo’s debut novel, All The Little Children, here. Anyone who enjoyed Bird Box will like this book. This book was an international best-seller and one of my Top Ten Books of 2018. Jo’s latest novel is called The Trailing Spouse – a domestic thriller set in the hothouse expat world of Singapore.
Amanda Bonham moved halfway around the world to be with the man she loves. Although expat life in Singapore can be difficult, Edward Bonham is a dream husband and a doting father to his teenage daughter, Josie.
But when their maid dies in an apparent suicide—and Amanda discovers the woman was pregnant and hiding a stash of drugs prescribed to Edward—she can’t help but wonder if her perfect husband has a fatal flaw. And if he can’t resist temptation under their own roof, what does he get up to when he travels?
Camille Kemble also has questions for Edward. Recently returned to Singapore, Camille is determined to resolve a family mystery. Amid a jumble of faded childhood memories, she keeps seeing Edward’s handsome face. And she wants to know why.
For one woman, the search for answers threatens everything she has. For another, it’s the key to all she lost. Both will follow his trail of secrets into the darkness to find the truth.
You can get a copy of The Trailing Spouse here and it is currently available on a Kindle promo deal of £1 in the UK and $2 in Australia until 14 February.
After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the UK, she lived in Switzerland and Cameroon, and currently resides with her family in Singapore.
As a journalist, Jo has worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle, The Economist, Business Traveller, Expat Living (Singapore) and Swiss News. Jo has also edited books for a Nobel Laureate and the Palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University. In 2015 she founded http://www.SWAGlit.com—an online literary magazine for writers in Singapore.
If you would like to find out more about Jo and her writing, connect with her on social media:
Facebook: Jo Furniss Author
Please come back to the blog next Friday when I will be having drinks with author, Graeme Cumming.