Today I’m delighted to introduce journalist turned novelist Jo Furniss. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jo on several occasions, first at Harrogate and more recently at an author/blogger meet up. Jo’s recently returned to the UK and her spell as an ex-patriate in Singapore, provided her with the ideal backdrop for her latest book, The Trailing Spouse.
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 United Kingdom, she spent seven years in Singapore and also lived in Switzerland and Cameroon.
As a journalist, Jo worked for numerous broadcasting outlets and magazines, including Monocle 24 and the Economist Radio. She has 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.
Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller.
So over to Jo,
Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?
I’ve always wanted to go on Desert Island Discs, so this makes me happy!
Anything by James would be the soundtrack to my youth. Probably Sometimes (Lester Piggott) if I had to choose one.
The theme tune to my first novel, All the Little Children, was a piece by Snow Patrol known as The Lightning Strike which is three songs they perform together as a continuous piece. I used to listen to it to get in the mood. There’s a line about “I was your lifeboat, but you should know that you were mine too”, which always made me think about the relationship between mother and child.
Speaking of Snow Patrol, their song Chasing Cars used to upset me when I was going through fertility treatment because there’s a line that says “show me a garden that’s bursting into life”. It seemed to sum up everything I wanted (and couldn’t have). But one day I came out of the fertility clinic, having just had an embryo transfer, and that song was playing on the radio and I knew that it had worked this time. Indeed, it had!
My second novel, The Trailing Spouse, has a theme tune that gets played by one of the main characters: Chocolate Girl by Deacon Blue. This song has a brilliant lyric about a man who believes his girlfriend is a chocolate girl because “she melts when he touches her” but in fact it’s because “she’s broken up and swallowed and dressed in bits of silver”. It really spoke to the themes of this novel.
A bit of Soul Makossa by Manu Dibango – I spent two years living in Cameroon and this West African funk takes me right back to its markets and streets. So vibrant and fun-loving!
Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.
Also movies and box sets, to be honest. I love compelling stories, well told, and the cultural immersion of sharing the experience with other people.
And radio too. I was a radio journalist for a long time and love the medium.
Tea and coffee – if I don’t have a cup of tea first thing in the morning, I feel uncomfortable all day, like I’m wearing the wrong bra. And my husband is a coffee trader, so the bean is a big deal in our house!
Lip balm. Total addict.
Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Given half a chance I’d write a whole essay because I feel I did everything wrong. But then once of the pieces of advice would be “stop being so hard on yourself”, so maybe I should keep it short.
Nothing will make you feel better than a job well done.
Fake it till you make it (that’s what everyone else is doing).
Invest in two decent work suits and save time by wearing this uniform. Also cut your hair because blow drying is a time suck. Hangovers = terrible waste of time. Goodness, woman, you waste so much time! You should be writing!
Always carry a hairbrush and lipstick because one day you’ll go on television unexpectedly and so wish you had these things…
Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.
I once played a weather girl in the television detective series Dalziel and Pascoe.
I once stepped in to read the television news because the presenter was late (see above).
I once got rescued from a desert island by the Omani Royal Air Force.
I once hitched a lift in a private jet belonging to the Transport Minister of Chad.
I once worked in a bakery but left because the old-lady customers were mean about my maths skills.
What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?
My bucket list has one over-arching item, which is “visit Galapagos Islands”.
I’d also like to walk Hadrian’s Wall.
I’d like to write so many novels that one day someone says “goodness, that many?!”
I’d like a sea view.
All the usual milestones involving my children.
Thanks so much for taking part Jo, and really pleased I could (partly) fulfil your Desert Island Disc desires. Sorry I can’t help with your other bucket list dreams – but hopefully you’ll achieve some, if not all of them. Perhaps, not unsurprisingly, I’ve not heard of Manu Dibango, so will have to see if YouTube can remedy that. Next time I see you I’ll have to remember to ask about your desert island rescue, that is a story I need to know more about!
(Click on the image for a non affiliated buying link)
A novel of marriage, betrayal, and murder set in tropical, multicultural 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.
When a family camping trip takes a dark turn, how far will one mother go to keep her family safe?
Struggling with working-mother guilt, Marlene Greene hopes a camping trip in the forest will provide quality time with her three young children—until they see fires in the distance, columns of smoke distorting the sweeping view. Overnight, all communication with the outside world is lost.
Knowing something terrible has happened, Marlene suspects that the isolation of the remote campsite is all that’s protecting her family. But the arrival of a lost boy reveals they are not alone in the woods, and as the unfolding disaster ravages the land, more youngsters seek refuge under her wing. The lives of her own children aren’t the only ones at stake.
When their sanctuary is threatened, Marlene faces the mother of all dilemmas: Should she save her own kids or try to save them all?
You can follow Jo via:-