Ahead of the release of The Casual Vacancy Jo was interviewed by Will Gompertz, the BBC arts editor. The complete transcript for the interview can be found here. When the audio file becomes available that too will be posted (‘: Here are a few snippets from the interview:
What do you aspire to as a writer?
To get better. I think you’re working and learning until you die. I can with my hand on my heart say I will never write for any reason other than I burningly wanted to write the book. I very rarely think about who I’m writing for, except that clearly there is an adult/child divide and certainly my next book is a children’s book, if that’s what I do publish next – she said, covering all her bases.
The one thing Potter has left me with is an absolute dread of committing myself because it came back to bite me so often.
This is your first published adult novel. It is inevitably going to sell truckloads. It is going to get reviews good, bad and indifferent. People around you are going to say nice things about it. How will you judge if it’s been a success or failure?
The simple answer is speaking to readers. I have to say that latterly with the Potter books, when the hype became insane, it was a monster that was out of control. Speaking to readers really brought you back to what it should be about.
So ultimately, the people who have read the book, who are not paid to have an opinion, are generally the best benchmark of whether you have done what you set out to do. But you’re right that that was a consideration for me, particularly with being published next time round.
It was very important to me to approach publishing the book in a certain way. I didn’t want to have an auction, I didn’t want to announce that I had a new book and watch a feeding frenzy, so it was important to me to go out quite quietly, and find the right person.
I had a great conversation with David Shelley [at Little, Brown & Co] and I just knew he understood what I was doing and he was prepared to take not a risk, in the sense that clearly the name would shift some books, we all knew that. But equally, if you fall flat on your face, it’s a much more public experience.
It was important to me simply to have an editor who understood what I was doing and to have a quiet conversation about that before I committed to any deals. And I found the right person. David is that person.