Author Jo Kessel drops by The London Diaries to talk about her research methods when writing and gives us a sneak peek at her novel Weak at the Knees.
I often like to get really down and dirty with my research – I think actors would call it ‘method acting’. In my first novel, Lover in Law, my heroine becomes pregnant and doesn’t know if the father of her baby is her long-term boyfriend or the colleague she’s started having an affair with. She’s beside herself with worry and doesn’t know which way to turn. She can’t talk to her boyfriend about it, or her lover and she doesn’t feel comfortable talking to her sister about it either. So one late night she turns to a telephone helpline for people in trouble and I have to admit that I called a telephone helpline pretending to be my heroine Ali in order to get an idea of how such a conversation might go. The woman on the other end of the phone was so wonderfully helpful and generous with her time that I did feel a little bit bad about making a phoney call, but it does at least make for a realistic scene in the book. A lot of the conversation I had was repeated word for word in the novel.
My methods aren’t always quite so extreme. I google a lot, canvass peoples’ opinions a lot, and have a stable of different friends and family who are doctors, lawyers, teachers etc who I can turn to for help with medical plotline queries, legal plotline queries etc But I always like to be as accurate as I can, because I think it’s important the story is credible.
And now, an excerpt from Weak at the Knees:
I leaned over, intending to air brush his cheeks with mine, but it didn’t quite happen that way. A stronger, more powerful force than my conscience, a force more powerful than morality, changed my path of navigation at the last second, making my lips meet his, melt deliciously into his, over and over and over again, sending shivers of pleasure through every limb in my body. My skin tingled, my head spun, I felt light-headed even though I was sitting down. That’s all we did for over an hour. Kiss and kiss and kiss, tasting each other, pressing our bodies close and steaming up the car. I didn’t want it to ever stop. I never realized that kissing could be so sensual and powerful and overwhelming. If Olivier and I were to never progress beyond kissing, then it would be enough, as long as I could keep on doing it forever. Finally, when he had to go, he hugged me tight and told me he’d wanted to kiss me since the first time we met, when I lay crashed in a snowy heap at his feet.
When Jo was ten years old she wrote a short story about losing a loved one. Her mother and big sister were so moved by the tale that it made them cry. Having reduced them to tears she vowed that the next time she wrote a story it would make them smile instead. Happily she succeeded and with this success grew an addiction for wanting to reach out and touch people with words. Jo lives in London with her husband and three children where she works as a TV and print journalist. She tells life stories and can often be found travelling the globe researching the next big holiday hotspots for readers to enjoy. Since becoming a mother anything even remotely sad makes her cry. She’s a sucker for a good romance and tear-jerker movies are the worst. She’s that woman in the cinema, struggling to muffle audible wails as everyone else turns round to stare.
P.S Jo’s pretty certain one of her daughters has inherited this gene.
Jo loves to hear from her readers and they can connect with her on:
Her website: www.jokessel.com
Jo is kindly giving away a $50 Amazon or BN.com gift card. Click on the below link for your chance to win!