Jojo Moyes: Hi, I’m Jojo Moyes
Sophie Kinsella: and I’m Sophie Kinsella and I’m here to interview Jojo about her new book ‘After you’. So Jojo the really exciting news is that you’ve been writing a new book! A sequel to ‘Me Before You’.
Jojo Moyes: I have, it’s called ‘After you’ and it picks up the life of Lou after the end of the last book and I don’t want to say too much about what happens because there’s quite a big surprise that happens about a quarter of the way in.
Sophie Kinsella: I can not wait!
Jojo Moyes: But let’s just say that Lou hasn’t entirely lost sight of Wills’ life.
Sophie Kinsella: It sounds so intriguing and as someone who loved ‘Me Before You’ I can’t wait to catch up with the whole story, the whole atmosphere of that book, how did it feel for you diving back in?
Jojo Moyes: Well, I have never written a sequel and I never had the faintest inclination I’ve tended to leave my characters where I’ve parked them and I’ve always worked on the basis that when I’ve got a couple together they’d probably mess it up if I went back to them afterwards!
Sophie Kinsella: (Laughs) We don’t want to know!
Jojo Moyes: Exactly! We don’t want to know, let’s just leave them where they were! But a couple of things happened with this; one is that there was such a phenomenal response to ‘Me Before You’ every day I’ve been getting tweets and emails and messages on Facebook asking ‘what happened to Lou?’ and then also working on the screenplay for the ‘Me Before You’ film meant that these characters were still in my head and I was wary because you’re very conscious, as you well know, that if you write a sequel it’s got to be a story that’s at least as good as the original, but eventually I had one of those epiphanic, 5:30, wake up in the middle of the night, sit bolt upright and go ‘oh, that’s what happened to her’ and I had to write it.
Sophie Kinsella: Oh how wonderful! Has it been quite emotional going back into that story?
Jojo Moyes: It’s been so much fun. I loved Lou’s family, I loved writing them so much, they’re so funny and as somebody who didn’t do humour up until that book, the thing I loved about writing them is the humour kind of makes itself, I don’t know if you find this with certain characters? They’re just naturally funny themselves.
Sophie Kinsella: Absolutely, they’re just waiting to perform and you have to give them an outlet.
Jojo Moyes: Exactly, whereas with other characters you write you know that they couldn’t be funny if you sat their for six weeks trying to think of a funny line. So Lou’s father, you know the playoff between her and her sister, all that stuff has been just a joy to write and there are a few new characters as well who’ve been very funny. Lou joins a group of some kind, I can’t say too much about it, but the characters in the group…it’s really bad form to laugh at your own jokes but I was laughing!
Sophie Kinsella: I know, I do!
Jojo Moyes: Do you?
Sophie Kinsella: Yeah, I kind of think a scene works for me if I’ve written and written and written it and find it makes me laugh out loud, I think ‘OK. That works’.
Jojo Moyes: Then do you laugh when you rework the line? Do you laugh every time you come back to it?
Sophie Kinsella: Depends…
Jojo Moyes: How funny it is? (Laughs)
Sophie Kinsella: I wouldn’t say every time, but, I think, you know, if a scene works it makes you chuckle.
Jojo Moyes: yes
Sophie Kinsella: even if you know what’s going to happen.
Jojo Moyes: I’ve had a few of those and so I’m hoping. There’s a couple of sad moments I’m not going to lie…
Sophie Kinsella: Well, we would expect nothing else!
Jojo Moyes: But I’ve really enjoyed the fun as well.
Sophie Kinsella: Was it difficult to know who to catch up with? Did you edit any aspects of the first book out? Or did you go in a particular direction? Because I personally find that a challenge like who’s gonna come along for the ride, who isn’t, what’s important, so was that all in your big idea?
Jojo Moyes: No, I was really nervous before I started because I was trying to think ‘how do you do this so that doesn’t feel confected?’ but in the event they were such a small cast of characters originally and the story plot line that evolved meant that it was very natural that I would bring back pretty much everybody from the first book, pretty much everybody.
Sophie Kinsella: Yes, so it’s been a positive experience?
Jojo Moyes: It’s been hard because I think the biggest difficulty is the weight of other people’s expectations which is you know when you’re very conscious of
Sophie Kinsella: There’s a lot of love out there
Jojo Moyes: There’s a lot of love out there, and they’re still giving it, so you’re very conscious that you owe your character a huge responsibility to tell the story in a way that people are going to like and, you know, I’m still prepared for the fact that I don’t know if people like it, it’s terribly nerve-racking it’s more nerve-racking than if you just write something from scratch, you must find this because people are invested in the characters.
Sophie Kinsella: Yeah, people connect with them, feel they know them and have an idea of where they might go
Jojo Moyes: Well this is the thing that does concern me, everyone is going to have an opinion about what Lou does next.
Sophie Kinsella: But they’re your characters, it’s your world.
Jojo Moyes: Exactly, funnily enough, I had tea with Marian Keyes who is another master of the sequel, and she told me to exist in a bubble, she said you can’t think about what other people’s expectations are.
Sophie Kinsella: You cannot write for other people, you’re writing your world and you have to write for your characters if anybody, that’s who’s guiding.
Jojo Moyes: Yes