Interview by Ceri Wheeldon
In the latest of our author interviews , Jane Wenham-Jones shares the inspiration behind her book, The Big Five O, and how she became a published author
Jane Wenham-Jones – author, journalist, presenter, speaker, creative writing tutor, Jacqueline-of-all-trades…
When did you start to write?
Properly when I was at home with a small child some 20 odd years ago. (One of my early short stories was about him locking me in a cupboard!) But I’ve always written bits and pieces.
What have been the challenges for you?
Fitting it all in. I always want to do everything and have the attention span of a gnat.
What did you do prior to this?
Was a teacher, ran my own business, did copywriting, buy-to-let, co-owned a wine bar, washed shop floors… you name it.
When was your first book published?
2001 Raising the Roof (Bantam)
What is the title of your latest book?
The Big Five O (Harper Collins)
What was the inspiration behind your latest book?
I usually dredge my own life for all my books. Turning Fifty was a big deal for me. I didn’t quite lie in a darkened room but almost….
What can you share with us about the plot – without spoiling the ending!
Four friends in the seaside town of Broadstairs are all going to turn 50 in the same year. They plan a big joint party and all seem excited on the surface. But each one of them is harbouring a secret they don’t want the others to know about and as the party approaches the beans begin to spill. It is about the impact of “big birthdays” and the power of female friendship.
Who are the key characters – and how do you hope readers over 50 will relate to them?
Single mother Roz, long-term singleton Sherie, empty-nester Charlotte, and free spirit tough business woman Fay who has a much younger lover. I have tried to show the different stages you might find yourself at as you approach the half-century. And the varying concerns and preoccupations you might have – whether it’s your kids, your career, your health, your love life or a financial struggle.
What do like the most about the character/s you have created?
I think they are all “real” women with real, relatable problems.
Are there any key issues you wanted to draw attention to?
I have included a breast cancer strand as this is something I have been through and I have looked at how it feels to still be single after all those years, and what an adjustment it is when the kids start leaving home.
What do want readers to take away having the read the book?
A feeling of hope
What’s next for you – will there be a sequel with the same characters?
My next book is about a new set of characters but I might give one of these a walk on part. The character Charlotte in this book was a major player in my book Prime Time (shortlisted for the Romantic comedy of the year in 2013).
What 3 tips would you offer women looking to write their first book?
Write the book you want to write and don’t be tempted to follow trends (the “next big thing” will have been and gone by the time you’ve finished!)
Everything you’ve read about 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration is completely true
Try to write a bit of it every day. If you stop you’ll keep finding excuses not to start again.
Marry someone rich!
(sorry –that’s four! J)