Elizabeth Chats With…Jo Barton
My guest this month is someone of great importance to writers everywhere: a book blogger. Those wonderful people who agree to read our books, talk about them, review them, recommend them – all for the love of reading. I am delighted to be chatting today with Jo Barton.
Hello Jo, and welcome. What is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
My earliest memory is sitting in the garden with my very best blue dress on and having my photograph taken with my favourite dolly, Lucy. I was about three years old and hated having to sit still whilst the photographer got the perfect photograph.
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
My favourite subject at school was English, I loved reading and making up stories and as I went through High school I started to love poetry and enjoyed reading Shakespeare. My love of Jane Austen is thanks to, Mrs Hoyle, a splendid English teacher who brought the stories alive.
I always wanted to avoid Maths and Science, two subjects I hated with a passion and would have done anything to avoid them. I sat my Maths O’Level exam twice and failed both times, after which my Maths teacher advised me to ‘give up’!
If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
My cats, Jaffa and Timmy.
My family history file which contains all my archive photographs.
My signed twentieth anniversary copy of Outlander.
How do you relax?
I read as much as I can, especially in the evenings and before I go to bed. I enjoy listening to audio books in the afternoon whilst I am crocheting; I find both activities to be very therapeutic. I listen to music, particularly light classical, but I also enjoy my eclectic playlists on Spotify.
Describe your ideal menu — and where would you like to eat it?
I’m a fish and chips kind of girl and enjoy choosing this from the menu when we visit our favourite country pub for lunch. The pub is in North West England, by the side of the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and is perfectly placed for a long walk after a hefty lunch.
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be — and why?
I love reading historical fiction and have always had a fascination for Anne Boleyn. I would rather like to meet her, to see if she was prettier than she looks in her portraits, and I’d like to see if she really did have an extra finger, and to advise her to marry Harry Percy rather than Henry VIII.
Upload a picture or photo that best represents you, and tell us why.
This is me at what remains of Wigan Pier, a town which is not just famous for its association with George Orwell’s book, The Road to Wigan Pier, but also because this proud northern town has such a strong industrial heritage. It’s a place that I am proud to call ‘home’ and where generations of my family have lived and worked for several hundred years- I just follow in their footsteps.
If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?
I’m a huge Outlander fan and I would love to take part in the TV adaptation. I’m not too fussy about what part, any role, however small would be amazing!
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain (Louisa May Alcott)
Tell us about why you became a Book Blogger.
In 2011, I took a leap of faith and entered the world of book blogging. With no technical knowledge of where to start, or indeed of how maintain a website, I enthusiastically signed up to Blogger.
However, having the website wasn’t enough, my blog needed a name and so with the help of Jaffa, my glorious ginger cat, Jaffareadstoo was born. Initially my blog was simply a place to add my thoughts and when I started to tentatively add my book reviews, I did so safe in the knowledge that no-one would read them.
With patience and enthusiasm for what we do, Jaffareadstoo is now firmly established in the book blogging world. On most days we have lots of page views and average between 5K-10K views each month. With over 2500 followers on Twitter our blog posts regularly reach out to readers, authors, publishers and fellow bloggers.
Of course in order to review, first I must read, and I have an eclectic taste in books and can’t imagine a day where I don’t have a least a couple of books on the go. With Jaffa and Timmy curled up nearby and armed with copious amounts of my favourite Darjeeling tea, I read in the afternoons and late into the evening and can comfortably read an average length novel in a day.
Nine years, and over 3000 blog posts later, Jaffareadstoo continues to survive and thrive in a competitive world. Being a book blogger is an absolute joy and it’s always a real privilege and such an honour when an author trusts their work with me.
So, brew yourself a cuppa, and pop over and see us at Jaffareadstoo!
We certainly will, Jo. Thank you for agreeing to chat to us today. Readers, you can also find Jo on Twitter.