What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?
My novels all fit into the Psychological Thriller genre. The first two in The Abbey Series have been published: The Brotherhood and The Refuge.
What made you choose that genre?
I think it chose me. When I first decided to write a novel, I was originally going to go down the fantasy route, but decided to start with something a bit less daunting. When the idea of a religious sect popped into my head, with all its potential for fear and manipulation, it just felt right.
I’ve discovered that when I write, all the darkness comes out! I’m a very sunny person in reality!
How long does it take you to write a book?
For the latest 2, it’s taken me around a year, including drafts and pre-submission edits. My first novel took 6 years and 10 drafts, but I was learning on the job.
I have a full time job in Clinical Research, so writing fits around work. I try to do an hour a day, but it doesn’t always work out like that. Some days it’s half an hour in the morning before work; other days it can be an hour or two in the evening. Football season is great, because I get the house to myself for home matches – lots of time and peace and quiet to focus on writing.
Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.
I love running (although I’m very slow), and I ran a half marathon on the day I finished my last draft of The Brotherhood (it was a great day to write – my fingers were about the only bit of me that could still move!)
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started my first book at the tender age of 41. It wasn’t so much that I was a late developer; more that the kids were finally old enough for me to have a bit of time spare in the evenings. When I was younger, I had a lot of stories going round in my head, but I was such a slow writer and typist, that it never occurred to me to actually introduce the stories to paper (or laptop).
The other trigger for me to start my novel, was completing a touch typing course. I wrote a few short stories, then NaNoWriMo was introduced on breakfast TV, and my husband suggested it would be a good opportunity for me to begin a novel.
For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The idea is that 50000 words get written in a month. I think I managed about 20000, but it gave me the impetus to continue.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
As mentioned above, I love running. I’ve also recentlygot into mountain hiking, although I am guilty of looking for suitable places to throw my victims over a cliff. Funnily enough, my hiking companions are always very nice to me…
I think I was most surprised about the way characters have a life of their own. I might have certain plans for them, but if they disagree… well, suffice to say, they always get their own way.
I’ve also been surprised by how hard it is to predict what sort of a writing experience I’ll have when I sit down. I might think one day that I’m brimming with ideas, but when I start it’s like running through treacle. Then another day, I might eventually get started after a lot of procrastination, but the words will flow really well. There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason to it.
How many books have you written?
My third book is now with my publisher…
The fourth one is simmering in my brain, waiting for me to decide it’s ready to start prepping. When it’s ready, I’ll sit down and start the first chapter. I like to do this before I write the plan, as I then have a better idea of how it will evolve, and who the key characters will be.
Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?
Yes. I mostly just find stuff about my writing – mostly blog posts that I’ve written or that I already knew about, or details on my publishers’ websites (I have separate publishers for ebooks and audiobooks, so I appear on both sets of websites).
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a scientist or a doctor. I managed the scientist bit, although my early ambitions of becoming an astronaut disappeared when I realised I don’t like fairground rides.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?
Currently just the one unpublished novel that’s with my publisher. I’m hoping it won’t remain unpublished for long.
I had been tempted to give up on my first novel after everyone told me ‘first novels never get published’, but fortunately some very good friends dissuaded me!
However, I should state that the final novel bore only minimal resemblance to the original version.
Bio: Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled “Science Can Be Fun”. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.
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