Jo is the author of non-fiction, poetry and short stories. Her first novel, Significance was released by Seren Books last month. We had a chat with Jo about her book, her ideal dinner guests and her favourite word…
Hi Jo, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us about your novel, Significance and how the idea originated?
The idea for the novel came from two sources; first, a sort of unease about reading and watching stories about murder. Like a lot of people I have enjoyed the recent Nordic Noir TV series The Killing and The Bridge, and I’ve also enjoyed novels on the same theme. On the other hand real murder as it hits our headlines is brutal and awful and it has often been said that while we remember the names of the killers the victims’ names are forgotten. I think the book is also informed by a series of murders in the town where I lived of three girls the same age as me at the time. Two of them had been to the same club as my friend and I on the night they died and so obviously this had an impact, and while I never knew them I have never forgotten them. So it was exploring these memories and ideas that provided the backbone of the book.
Out of all the books you’ve read, which three have made the most impact on you?
So many books come to mind, but for different reasons – if I think about impact my first thoughts go to those books that had a real emotional impact – for example, Sophie’s Choice by William Styron, one passage of which made me weep loudly and uncontrollably on the London underground. Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls Trilogy has also remained memorable for its tragicomic scenes and O’Brien’s droll understated humour. Ian McEwan’s collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites impressed for the strangeness of the situations his characters found themselves in, the borderlands of loneliness and love with dark undertones of decay.by