Is living on the edge of society a choice? Or is choice a luxury of the fortunate?
Joe, fighting drug addiction, runs until the sea halts his progress. His is a faltering search for meaningful relationships.
‘Let luck be a friend’, Nuala is told but it had never felt that way. Abandoned at five years old survival means learning not to care. Her only hope is to take control of her own destiny.
The intertwining of their lives makes a compelling story of darkness and light, trauma, loss and second chances.
When and where do you prefer to write?
My best writing is done in the early morning. I often get up before dawn and sit in the conservatory and write as I watch the sun rise. For that reason sunrises often feature in my novels.
My favourite place of all to write is on my laptop beside a large wildlife pond in the garden. A magical place in the summer. Otherwise I can write pretty much anywhere.
Do you have a certain ritual?
Not really. I usually make a cup of coffee before I start and get up occasionally to walk round the garden or stroke the dog.
What I will always do is try to write a section between the fortnightly sessions of the creative writing group I belong to. I read it out to them and get their feedback and will go back over it making revisions before I start the next piece.
Is there a drink or certain food that keeps you company when you write?
Coffee and shortbread biscuits usually suffice.
What is your favourite book?
My best book ever is God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. The writing in this novel is clever and beautiful, poetic and powerful. She tackles a difficult subject sensitively, creating a tapestry woven with words. The characters have stayed with me. I also know and love India, so the setting evokes many memories.
Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I enjoy writing and reading literary fiction and I don’t really see myself venturing into crime or writing a thriller. I have toyed with the notion of non-fiction, but I am still nurturing that idea.
Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
I think writing comes alive if writers write what they know, and their characters are real in their head. I have never used anyone I know but Nuala and Joe, in Beyond the Margin, are an amalgam of people I have worked with, as are their stories. Twin baby girls were the inspiration for my first book, Too Loud a Silence. I used to visit them in an orphanage in Cairo where I was living at the time. In the novel I imagined them as young women, so the story is fictional.
I find people fascinating. Their reactions, what they say, how they say it, the way they interact, smile or cry. I use these observations to create an authentic character.
Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
No, but I should. The description of Bridget, in Beyond the Margin, was based on a young person I saw when I was sitting in a pub. I had to hastily scribble down notes in the back of a diary.
Which genre do you not like at all?
Science fiction is not for me. I have no interest in it whatsoever, but I admire those who can create imaginary worlds and fantastic creatures.
If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Sir Wilfred Thesiger !910 – 2003 His biographer wrote, ‘An explorer whose mystic vision rejected the modern technological world in favour of the tribes people of Africa and the Arabian deserts’.
His books are brilliant and evocative. I think he would be a difficult man to work alongside but beside a campfire in the Empty Quarter he’s the person I would most want to be listening to.
If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you choose and why?
My first novel, Too Loud a Silence was set in Egypt where I lived for two years. Writing it took me back there, to the wonderful people. I relived the chaos, the sounds, the smells and the beauty.
I have travelled extensively but it would be a privilege to return to India or Ethiopia and to base a novel on either of those amazing countries.
The twins who inspired Too Loud A Silence
Thank you for being part of the blog tour for Beyond the Margin.
Thank you, Jo Jackson and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Jo Jackson reads books and writes them too.
Having worked with some of the most vulnerable people in society she has a unique voice apparent in her second novel Beyond the Margin.
She was a nurse, midwife and family psychotherapist and now lives in rural Shropshire with her husband. She loves travelling and walking as well as gardening, philosophy and art.
Her first novel Too Loud a Silence is set in Egypt where Jo lived for a few years with her husband and three children. Events there were the inspiration for her book which she describes as ‘a story she had to write’.