Elizabeth Chats With…Joy Wood
I first met this month’s guest when she arrived at the Book Room with copies of her novels at the start of the annual Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick a couple of years back. She’s caring and great to talk to – as you would expect from a former nurse; interested in listening as well as talking – as befits a writer. And she’s a very funny raconteur, as anyone who’s been to one of her popular public talks will attest. I’m delighted to chatting today to the author, Joy Wood.
Hello Joy, welcome to my blog. Let’s start by going back to the beginning. What is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
My 4th birthday. I was taken into hospital unwell with suspected TB of the lung. My birthday cake went with me which was shared on the ward. I was quite indignant about other children getting a slice and I didn’t know them, and remember being very puzzled about the boy next to me who had an unusual bottle on his locker. Curiosity got the better of me and I did ask – he told it was to wee into which I didn’t believe for a minute as I knew you did that in a toilet! Although I had a lung problem, it didn’t turn out to be TB. I think it was more a precaution as a family member was in a local sanatorium at the time with the disease.
What was your favourite subject at school?
No surprises – English literature. I loved all the books we studied. When I think back how they used to make us read aloud in class and it really did have to be perfect. I never used to mind but I had a friend who was terrified of being asked by the teacher. It was awful really, I remember she used to cry sometimes before the lesson, and it was almost as if the teacher knew as he’d always ask her and rarely ask me. Funny the memories you have.
Talking about yourself, how would you finish the sentence “not a lot of people know…”?
…I was one of those slogan writers that won hundreds of prizes doing consumer competitions in the 1980s. I used to spend my time in various supermarkets collecting competition forms. To enter, you invariably had to purchase the product and supply the till receipt so I used to end up with cupboards full of stuff I didn’t want. But it was a joy to see the prizes come in. I always used humour in many of the ditties I wrote which seemed to be the way to catch the judge’s eye.
If you could change one law, what would it be?
Can I make a law instead – is that allowed? It is slightly ‘tongue in cheek’ as it would never happen. I think parents of young children who are out in public with them should not be allowed to be on their mobile phones. Many (not all of course) seem to totally ignore their children preferring to spend their time on their phones. I see them walking along the seafront with their children in pushchairs and the children gleefully pointing at the birds and the dogs, while their mum is totally oblivious, either speaking on the phone, or scrolling through it. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been in cafés etc. and children are left to their own devices while mum and dad fiddle about on their phones.
Referrals to speech and language therapy services are increasing because children are no longer having the conversations and interactions to develop their language skills. Poor grasp of the English language can lead to all sorts of problems. How sad if children are unable to enjoy reading a fabulous adventure story, or confidently being able to join in with activities at school because their language is impaired.
If you were a car, what type would you be — and why?
In the 1970s I left home to train as a nurse. My father said that I had to be a Rolls Royce car. He explained it was the best car on the road, but if it went past, you wouldn’t hear the engine. It was the superbly built, quiet and the finest money could buy. He used the analogy throughout my training, I needed to be a Rolls Royce car – the best nurse I could be, not boast about my achievements or any success, and to have a quiet diligent engine driving me at all times.
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be — and why?
It would have to be Enid Blyton simply because I read her books as a child and I can still recall the excitement of each story. It was escapism at its best. Not that I needed to escape, as I had an idyllic childhood, but her stories just took you right there. I thought I was in each adventure, and friends with the main characters! I’d love to know her writing routine and how she developed such amazing stories and characters.
Watch a film, go to the theatre, read a book or talk to friends — which would you prefer?
Talk to friends every time. I’m big on socialising. My husband always jokes, ‘Have you got any school reunions planned this week!’ I must admit if I’m invited to any function – I’m there. I’m a real social butterfly. That said, I do like isolation and quiet; oh, and I do love the theatre. I’m an eclectic mix of both, I reckon!
If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?
Neighbours. I’ve watched it since first began – I love it. It brings back memories of breastfeeding my daughter, such precious times that have simply flown by. I’d like to go to Australia and take a tour of the Neighbours set but my husband is having none of it!
Upload a picture or a photo that best represents you, and tell us why.
I was fortunate to win a competition to meet the fabulous Barbara Taylor Bradford at one of her book launches in Soho, London. I answered the question, ‘Who is your Woman of Substance and why?’ It was a Facebook competition so I was able to look at some of the entries. There were many great answers, The Queen, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, Mother Theresa, Hilary Clinton etc. I went for, “My mother because she used to have a saying, ‘It’s nice to be nice,’ – and it is.” I was gobsmacked when they contacted me to say I’d won. And what an evening it was. She is a truly remarkable woman and so inspiring. It certainly was, for me, a dream come true to have the pleasure of meeting such a prolific author.
Would you describe yourself as left-brain (analytical), right-brain (intuitive) or a mix of both?
Intuitive definitely. I analyse though when things go wrong so maybe a bit of both?
Out of the 5 novels you have published, which is your favourite?
It has to be my debut novel For the Love of Emily which is still my best seller even though it’s now 5 years old. It’s very precious to me with it being the first novel I wrote (just to see if I could really), and I do so love the story about dear Emily. It has adult content in it which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however, as the saying goes, “sex sells.”
At the time of writing it, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ was very popular and my editor urged me to stretch myself with the adult content – well, I certainly had to do that…the internet became my best friend! I still get a buzz when I hear from readers who tell me how much they loved the story.
Thank you for sparing the time to chat to us today, Joy. And good luck with the next book. Readers, if you would like to check out any of Joy’s books, they can be found via her Amazon Central Page. And they are all free to read on Kindle Unlimited.
Thank you so much for hosting me, Elizabeth, that really is very kind and supportive of you; I’ve really enjoyed my trip down memory lane.