It’s always a pleasure to feature a fellow member of Book Connectors to Being Anne, and today I’m delighted to introduce you to Jo Worgan, who writes her fiction under the name of Jo Hollywood. Having met Jo on-line I took a look at her debut novel, An Unextraordinary Life, and was really intrigued by the story line: I read the first few pages and liked the writing, and it’s now waiting its turn on my kindle. The kindle version is just 99p: it’s also available in paperback.
When Tess unexpectedly bumps into Jack one cold day in March, her world is quite literally turned upside down. Can she make a new life for herself with Jack, based on how happy they were in the past? Or does she need to make a new start and find love in the arms of her new work colleague, Rob? The path of true love never does run smoothly.
Meet Tess, a woman who is still in love with her husband, who died five years ago.
Meet Jack, the ghost, who wants to make Tess happy again.
Finally there’s Rob who wants to win Tess’s heart.
Who will she choose?
I’m delighted to welcome Jo to Being Anne…
Jo, welcome to Being Anne. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Hello Anne and thank you for the kind invite. I have been married for 18 years and have two young boys, my youngest of whom has Autism. We live in Lancashire, although we are originally from the Wirral, so I am a plastic scoucer. I met my now husband while at school when we were both 15. I am a former renal nurse, I plugged people into dialysis machines and worked on a busy surgical/medical renal ward, but today spend most of my time reading and writing. I write a weekly column for my local newspaper and its affiliated press about Autism. I have also occasionally blogged about the subject over on the Huffington Post. My real love though is writing romantic fiction.
Why “Jo Hollywood”? Entirely made up? And did you go through lots of names before you settled?
Hollywood is my mother’s maiden name, and I love it! I needed a pen name and for me Hollywood was the natural choice. I never considered using another name. The reason that I wanted a pen name was because I really wanted to distinguish my fiction writing from that of my non-fiction work (I have previously self-published several books about Autism).
I very much like the look of An Unextraordinary Life and its unusual story line. Tell me where the idea came from…
The idea behind An Unextraordinary Life had been bubbling away in the back of my mind for some time. The notion that love never dies and that we all have a soulmate out there was a story that I just needed to write. I am a hopeless romantic and believe that we all have someone special waiting for us. Over time the story morphed into what it is today.
I know you’re an experienced non-fiction writer with numerous books on the subject of autism. What made you want to write fiction?
The switch came about as I really wanted to continue writing, but not about autism. I needed a break from the autistic world so to speak. I found that I was eating, breathing and sleeping autism, but I wanted to continue writing. I had always wanted to write romantic fiction and I thought, why not do it? I honestly thought that nobody would be interested in my work. It was simply something for me to pass the time and to escape from the world for a little bit. I found that it was cheaper than therapy. I do still write my weekly column about family life and autism, but my fiction writing is just for me.
I think you’re the first author I’ve spoken to who brought their novel to publication through using Wattpad. Would you recommend it?
I love Wattpad, although I am having a little break from it at the moment while I write my second novel. I have a lot to thank Wattpad for, as without them I would not have had the courage, nor confidence to write An Unextraordinary Life. It is such a supportive community of writers, and readers, where people freely give advice on your writing and give you that extra push to carry on. So, yes, I would definitely recommend them for the newbie writer. The only downside is that with so many great stories posted on the site, you can become a little sidetracked. Hence my short break at the moment.
How do you manage to fit your writing around your busy life? What does a typical writing day look like?
Oh I love to be busy. When the boys are at school my days are filled with reading and writing freelance copy. However, I always put aside some time each day for writing fiction. The amount I write varies on a day to day basis, depending on what else I have to do. But I always write. Some days I may be able to sit and easily write 2,000 words, some days I struggle to get 500 words typed. But no matter what, I write something. It is so much easier to work with words on a page that need editing or rewriting, than staring at a blank screen. As for a typical day? Well that very much depends. Some days I write in coffee shops or the library, others I will sit and write at home at my dining room table surrounded by Minecraft figures.
And now you’re a book blogger too! Enjoying it so far? And why did you decide to start?
I set up my book blog, Brew and Books Review only a few weeks ago and you know what, I am loving it! I have always read a couple of books per week and I suddenly thought, why don’t I review them and use a blog to do so? The blog has helped me to focus on my reading and to widen my literary tastes, which is a good thing. I have read several books which I would never have chosen by myself. As a writer, it is also good to see the other side. I know that many authors also blog about the books they are reading. I hope that my blog will help authors, especially new and independent authors, as I can share their brilliant novels and encourage others to give their books a go.
What writers do you particularly admire? if someone said “your writing reminds me of…”, who would you like them to mention?
Oh I admire so many writers of all genres. A few from the top of my head are Audrey Niffenegger (Time Traveler’s Wife is my favourite book of all time), Carys Bray, Emma Claire Sweeney (Owl Song At Dawn deeply moved me and is my book of the year), Jo Nesbo, Camila Lackberg, Denise Grover Swank, JoJo Moyes….oh so many. What author would I like my writing compared with? Oh that’s a tricky one. I have absolutely no idea… I’ll let my readers decide that one.
So, what’s next from you? Is there a second book in the pipeline?
Yes, I am currently writing Picking Up the Pieces, a romance that is firmly rooted in reality this time. The story is about a single mum, Kate, who has a young autistic son. The story deals with her past and the possibility of a new relationship with Matt, the handsome new neighbour next door, who is also fighting his own demons. It is very much in the early stages at the moment, but I am really enjoying writing it.
Thank you Jo – and I wish you every success!