Jojo Moyes has written a string of bestselling books, including the hugely successful Me Before You, which sold more than five million copies and has been turned into a movie that will be released next year. Yet she admits she nearly gave up on her dream to be an author when her first three novels were rejected.
"I thought it was never going to happen," admits the British journalist-turned-writer. "I was working full-time, I'd had a baby and I was writing books that nobody wanted to publish. That wasn't a surprise really, they were rubbish. I thought, 'I can't do this any more,' and was about to give up."
But then book number four, Sheltering Rain, was picked up by a publisher and hit bookshelves in 2002. Since then, she's written 12 more books, including Me Before You, published in 2012, and its sequel, After You.
Jojo (46) also reveals that once she'd become a published author, she almost scrapped Me Before You, her ninth book. She was worried that nobody would be interested in the story of a young woman who works as a caregiver for a man paralysed in an accident.
"I first pitched it to my hairdresser while I was having my hair done and when I said it was about a quadriplegic, he gave me this look like, 'Oh, okay…' I found myself defending it before I even wrote it."
She wrote 20,000 words, then lost confidence and thought about giving up. Then she had lunch with her friend Madeleine Wickham, who wrote the bestselling Shopaholic series of books under the name Sophie Kinsella.
"When I told her what it was about, she said, 'You have to write this book.' So I did.
"My husband and I joked that it would either fix my career or kill it stone dead. Luckily, it did extremely well."
She says it's the only one of her books she can read without getting annoyed over spotting things she's not happy with and wanting to slam it shut.
"Sometimes I think I will never write a better book," says Jojo. "The characters just fell into my lap, and that doesn't normally happen."
She had no intention of writing a sequel but feedback from people she met or who sent her emails made her consider a follow-up. "Plus, I was working on the screenplay for the film of Me Before You, so my main character Lou was still in my head."
As well as continuing Lou's story in After You, she has also seen her characters brought to life on the film set. "Suddenly, they are real people. But I really loved it and I can't wait until the movie comes out next year."
Photographs by: Facebook
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