Today I’m delighted to revisit my Five on Friday interview with journalist turned novelist, Jo Furniss which was first posted in November 2018. It’s been brought up to date to reflect Jo’s latest publications.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Jo on several occasions, and I’m hoping that those opportunities will soon be back on the agenda. Jo’s debut novel, All the Little Children, was an Amazon Charts bestseller and her second book The Trailing Spouse took inspiration from her time as an ex-patriate in Singapore.
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.
She has two kids and a poodle.
Over to Jo:
Which piece of music/song 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!
What (apart from family and friends) would you 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 a piece of advice for 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 something 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.
Tell us something you’d still like to do or achieve.
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.
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The Last to Know
American journalist Rose Kynaston has just relocated to the childhood home of her husband, Dylan, in the English village of his youth. There’s a lot for Rose to get used to in Hurtwood. Like the family’s crumbling mansion, inhabited by Dylan’s reclusive mother, and the treacherous hill it sits upon, a place of both sinister folklore and present dangers.
Then there are the unwelcoming villagers, who only whisper the name Kynaston—like some dreadful secret, a curse. Everyone knows what happened at Hurtwood House twenty years ago. Everyone except Rose. And now that Dylan is back, so are rumors about his past.
When an archaeological dig unearths human remains on the hill, local police sergeant Ellie Trevelyan vows to solve a cold case that has cast a chill over Hurtwood for decades.
As Ellie works to separate rumor from fact, Rose must fight to clear the name of the man she loves. But how can Rose keep her family safe if she is the last to know the truth?
The Trailing Spouse
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.
All the Little Children
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?
Afraid of the Light
Some people are scared of the dark. But it’s the light that exposes the secrets.
A young boy with nightmares faces up to his demons. A deathbed confession turns the world on its axis. A five-year-old watches his parents bury a body in the garden. A soldier returns from the war to find the horror isn’t yet over.
Afraid Of The Light brings the imagination of fourteen bestselling crime writers together in a collection that will keep you up all night. From a deadly campfire game to a holiday gone wrong, to an AI assistant with a motive and a love affair that can only end in murder, this is a gripping, twisty set of stories to send a shiver down your spine.
Are you Listening? – Adam Southward
Daddy Dearest – Dominic Nolan
Deathbed, Beth Dead – Elle Croft
Loveable Alan Atcliffe – S R Masters
Sleep Time – Phoebe Morgan
Coming Home – N J Mackay
Sausage Fingers – Victoria Selman
Just a Game – Rachael Blok
Drowning in Debt – Heather Critchlow
To Evil or Not to Evil – Jo Furniss
Sheep’s Clothing – Robert Scragg
Frantic – Clare Empson
Planting Nan – James Delargy
Shadow – Kate Simants
All profits from the sale of this anthology will be donated to two frontline domestic abuse charities:
Afraid of the Christmas Lights
IT WOULDN’T BE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT A LITTLE CRIME…
A Christmas dinner takes a murderous turn, a friendship group loses the festive spirit, and a young girl goes to extreme measures to keep a beloved dog.
Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is a collection of gripping, sometimes funny, and always festive short stories from a group of bestselling crime writers.
From the hilarious to the macabre, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a Christmas convert or a bit of a Grinch. From a detective tracking down missing Christmas geese, to a cat lady who goes on a date in order to keep Santa Paws well fed, this anthology is the perfect gift to cosy up with this year.
Afraid Of The Christmas Lights is brought to you by eighteen bestselling crime and thriller writers who between them have topped the Sunday Times and Amazon charts, been Richard and Judy bestsellers, won the Crime Novel of the Year Award, the Bath Novel Award and the UK National Book Awards, had their work made into major television series and been published in over 50 territories worldwide.
Profits from Afraid Of The Christmas Lights will support two front-line charities: