Writer Wednesday: Jenny Oliver

Jenny Oliver wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s Vogue, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based Dynasty.

Since then Jenny has gone on to get an English degree and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). Nowadays her inspiration comes from her love of all things vintage, a fascination with other people’s relationships and an unwavering belief in happy ever after!

1. Why did you want to become a writer?
I don’t know why, I just knew that it felt right. I enjoyed making people up!

2. What's the toughest part of the writing process for you?
The procrastination. I do everything to put off something that, when I do it, I love. At the end of every day I remind myself to remember that I love it in the morning but my morning-self never seems to listen. I think it’s hard to take the initial leap to submerge yourself into the world you’re creating but once you’re in it’s great – like swimming in the sea!

3. What's the most enjoyable part of writing?
I think about two thirds of the way through when you know pretty much what’s going to happen and the characters are real people in your head so they talk more easily.

4. Out of all the amazing books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?
I remember as a teenager really wishing that I was Paula Danziger (The Cat Ate My Gymsuit etc) or that I wrote Sweet Valley High. After that I would have done anything to have written Polo or Rivals by Jilly Cooper. Now I’m writing, I don’t wish that I had written anything else but I am always wishing my favourite authors would write quicker and more!

5. If you could only save one of your characters from fictional calamity, which would you pick and why?
None of them, I’d like to watch and see how the fictional calamity played out!

6. If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character (not from your books), who would you spend it with and what would you do?
Maybe Rupert Campbell-Black. I’d spend a glorious day flirting.

7. What can we expect next from you?
The next book is set in Cornwall and all about family, secrets and Instagram!

8. Is there any particular writing advice you wish you'd been given at the start of your writing career? If so, what is it? If not, what advice would you give to someone starting out?
Always make sure you have a story! I have a lot of drafts of a lot of early manuscripts that just drift along with no real purpose. And they took forever to write precisely because they were heading nowhere. I think, if you’re writing, set a deadline of six months and get the first draft done in that time. Otherwise, the danger is, it’s just something you tinker with for years.

9. Tell us what a typical writing day involves for you.
I sit at my desk with a cup of tea and faff about for ages. Then I write till lunchtime (with a few faffing breaks). Then in the afternoon I do the same. Sometimes I think the process could definitely be honed! Other times I think the faffing is important for the brain to mull things over and come up with ideas.

10. Finally, what are you reading at the moment?
I have just finished Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami which has made me really want to go to Japan. And I’m about to start The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney.


For your chance to win a signed copy of The Summerhouse by the Sea, enter below. Good luck!

For Ava Fisher, the backdrop to all her sun-drenched memories – from her first taste of chocolate-dipped churros to her very first kiss – is her grandmother’s Summerhouse in the sleepy Spanish seaside town of Mariposa.

Returning for one last summer, Ava throws herself into a project her grandmother would be proud of. Café Estrella - once the heart of the sleepy seaside village - now feels more ramshackle than rustic. Just like Ava, it seems it has lost its sparkle.

Away from the exhausting juggle of London life, Ava realises somehow her life has stopped being…happy. But being back at the Summerhouse by the sea could be the new beginning she didn’t even realise she needed…

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  1. I would love for my summer house to be in Greece. Thanks for the chance. Lx