The Writing and Marketing Show

Making Your Settings Pop with Joanne Harris

September 02, 2020 Wendy H. Jones Episode 33
The Writing and Marketing Show
Making Your Settings Pop with Joanne Harris
Chapters
The Writing and Marketing Show
Making Your Settings Pop with Joanne Harris
Sep 02, 2020 Episode 33
Wendy H. Jones

Today, I chat to multi-award winning author, Joanne Harris about writing realistic settings. In her latest book, Orfeia, is set in three different worlds - Contemporary London, Alternative London and the Underworld - and the settings are sublimely written where everything can change at the twist of a well placed word. So. Joanne knows a thing or two about this and the show is bursting with hints tips and advice to help us write settings that pop off the page. 

Show Notes Transcript

Today, I chat to multi-award winning author, Joanne Harris about writing realistic settings. In her latest book, Orfeia, is set in three different worlds - Contemporary London, Alternative London and the Underworld - and the settings are sublimely written where everything can change at the twist of a well placed word. So. Joanne knows a thing or two about this and the show is bursting with hints tips and advice to help us write settings that pop off the page. 

Wendy Jones :

Hi, and welcome to the writing and Marketing Show brought to you by author Wendy H. Jones. This show does exactly what it says on the tin. It's jam packed with interviews, advice, and tips and news to help you with the business of writing. It's all wrapped up in one lively podcast, so it's time to get on with the show. And welcome to Episode 32 of the writing and Marketing Show. How has that gone so far before I know where I am, I left on 52 episodes in an entire year. But I'm having a blast doing the show with you and Wendy H. Jones. And it really is a pleasure to have you join me here again today. So what's the news from my life? Well, I've had a great week I've been selling books, signing them for people and sending them off to them and for themselves for presence. And it's always a nice feeling. We can't do physical book signings at the moment, but we can do book signings at home and We can send the books out to people if you would like signed copies of any of the books I've written. If you go to Wendy's John's dot com, and or you email me at Wendy at Wendy h Jones comm you'll be able to get a signed copy, we can chat about it, and they make fabulous presence. And as we're into September, I suppose we're thinking a little bit about Christmas already. But enough of that word. Nobody wants to discuss that in September really. So what's happening in the world of publishing and writing this week? Well, I have to say that on Thursday as this comes out, and on the Thursday, the third of September 2020 there are 600 books. Yes, you got that right. 600 books being published on that one day, that is a lot of books and a lot of authors. And I think people are going to struggle to sell books with that amount hitting the market at the same time. It really is a tsunami of books. However, you can support these authors by buying some of their books. And I hope you will support today's guest because today's guest is Joanne Harris. And she also has a book coming out this week. So, and before we introduce Joanne, who I'm sure everybody knows, but before we do, and I would like to say that it's a pleasure to bring you the show, I do so willingly every week, but it does take time out of my week. And if you would like to support that time, support the time that I use for this instead of writing, then you can do so by going to patreon.com and just signing up for three pounds a month. Three pounds a month is just the price of a tea or coffee but it would mean a lot to me. And if you did so, you can and I know money is tight at the moment and I understand that I understand. If you Can't do that because it will always be free. But if you go to patreon.com, forward slash Wendy h Jones, it would show that you support the show that you enjoy the content, and I would be very grateful. But after that, let's talk about juwan, which is what we're really here to do today. JOHN Harris MBA. He was born in Barnsley in 1964. of a French mother and an English father. She studied modern and mediaeval languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for 15 years, during which time she published three novels, including shockula, which was made into an Oscar nominated film starring Juliette Binoche. Since then she has written 15 more novels, two novellas, two collections of short stories, a doctor who novella guest episodes for the game zombies run the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a musical and three cookbooks, my heavens, I mean exhausted just reading. Her books are no published in over 50 countries and have won a number of British and international awards. She is an Honorary Fellow of St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, has Honorary Doctorate doctorates in literature from the University of Sheffield in Huddersfield, and has been a judge for the witbank Prize, the orange prize the Desmond Elliot prize, the Betty Trask award, the prima donna prize and the Royal Society Winton prize for science, as well as the fragrance foundation awards for perfume and perfume journalism, for which she also received an award in 2017. Gosh, I don't know how she fits it all in She must have 48 hours in a day rather than 24 like the rest of us. She is a passionate advocate for authors writes and is currently the chair of the Society of authors and a member of the board of the authors licencing and collecting society. Her hobbies are listed in the who's who, as mooching lounging strutting stuff participating and quite subversion of the system. Although she also enjoys of this keishon sleaze rebellion which craft armed robbery tea and Byzantine biscuits, she's not above bribery and would not necessarily refuse an offer involving perfume diamonds or pink champagne or woman after my own heart pink champagne. She wants some a shed in her garden plays bass in the band. She first joined when she was 16 is currently curating a stage musical and lists with her husband and a little wood in Yorkshire. So what a talented an extremely interesting lady. So, without further ado, let's get on with the show and hear from the lovely and highly talented Joanne Harris. Hi, Joanne. It's lovely to have you with us today.

Joanne Harris :

Hello, Wendy. It's great to be here. Thank you.

Wendy Jones :

Welcome to Scotland even though it's only virtually

Joanne Harris :

Well, it's nice to be in Scotland even only virtually I have wonderful memories of the place and I'm dying to get back there.

Wendy Jones :

It's a great country, but we're going for the world record on how much rain you can get in a week at the moment. I think

Joanne Harris :

that's okay. I'm from Yorkshire. I'm used to rain.

Wendy Jones :

Well, Yorkrkshire's a great place as well, I lived in Yorkshire for a little while. So I love Yorkshire. Anyway, this is not a geographical podcast, which I seem to be turning into really. I don't usually ask my guests about the books off the bat really as the first question. But in this instance, your book Orfeia 100% demands that we have to because it's all about setting and the settings are superb in your book. So tell us about the book.

Joanne Harris :

I'm so pleased you liked it. It's basically, it's one of three illustrated novellas based on elements of the child ballads. And so this one is taken from a ballad called the elfin Knight, and another one about riddles and, and it's, and it's also retelling of the Orpheus myth, but it's a feminised retelling With an older woman, that's the heroine and who is basically working through the grief of having lost her daughter. And it's an exploration of memory and motherhood, and fantasy, and sacrifice. Yeah. And it's set partly in London, a sort of alternate version of London. And it's sort of so set partly in Fairyland and partly in the land of death.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, it's brilliantly done in terms. Well, it's brilliantly done in terms of the story, but it's brilliantly done in terms of the setting. I have to say, you know, I was, I was surprised. One minute I was one place and next minute it was completely transformed. Which was why I needed to talk to you about setting because it was outstanding. But just to set the scene. I'm sure most writers know what we're talking about when we discuss setting however, there might be listeners at the start of the writing journey. And for those listeners, what exactly is setting?

Joanne Harris :

Setting is, if you like, if you think of your plot as a journey, setting is the landscape that you are going to be exploring that you're going to be driving through or sailing through or whatever vehicle you're going to use to take your plot from beginning to middle to end. And you can have different settings depending on what kind of a story it is. This one is a journey. And so it starts in one place and it and it changes over the course of the of the story to a number of real and fantasy places. But yes, setting is, in many ways, to me it's as important as character. Because if you are taking your readers on a journey, they need to be excited by what's going on outside the window as well as what's going on inside the car.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, that's true. Yeah, good point. You need to know the whole thing and you need to be able to picture it. So I think setting is part of being able to picture it and place it.

Joanne Harris :

That's right. Yes, the sense of place. I mean, I'm always attracted by books that are fully immersive where I can really feel That I am opening a window or a door into another world and I can step through and I can't just see what's going on, like on a flat screen, but I can also hear and smell and feel. And I think that the trick to creating a sense of place is not being afraid to use all of your senses. I think a lot of people just talk about what they can see, which is great. Yeah, but actually, a lot of the time, the real key to a place is what it smells like.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, that's very true. And also, you know, what you can feel because you think, well, your sat in a car, you can't feel anything, you're feeling many things.

Joanne Harris :

Yes, you are. And you can open a window and you should, um, I think, you know, most of my memories tend to be based around tastes and smells. Anyway, I think this is, this is something very particular to me, but I think a lot of us don't realise how important those things are. And so to me, shutting your eyes and thinking okay, What can I sense outside of the visual, it's actually quite an important thing. And because because this is a fantasy story that starts in the real world, I wanted to make the real world as real as possible to start off with because when you're struggling with fairy tales with with getting people to believe in the stuff of fairytales, it's quite important to give them some, some basis for connection in reality first, and so I chose to start the story in London. It's not where I live, but I know it well. Partly because I knew I could make it feel real. And also because a lot of readers will be familiar with that place, even if they've only seen it on TV, they'll be able to, to place themselves in that setting and go, Oh, yes, I know what this is. This is Shaftesbury Avenue. This is the this is Piccadilly Circus. This is the statue of Eros, they'll be able to place themselves in there. And so it's much easier to get a reader to follow you into a story that actually they leads them into an enchanted wood. And if you start in the enchanted wood straightaway and expect them to feel at home there

Wendy Jones :

That's a very good point actually and I'm writing this down Joanne it's great idea you know? And you know you said enchanted wood. There's actually a book called I think it was written by Enid Blytonwasn't I

Joanne Harris :

It may well have been

Wendy Jones :

but she was

Joanne Harris :

I was brought up within it light. And of course they were they were pretty much the only kids books that were around when I was a kid.

Wendy Jones :

Precisely. Me too. But when you think about the enchanted wood or enchanted forest or you think about, you know, the folk of the faraway tree, she starts off in normal every day, of course,

Joanne Harris :

Yeah, I think most, most stories of fantasy do start off. I mean, you look at Narnia. You look at Alice in Wonderland, you know, you have an element of anchoring your character and your reader in a certain kind of reality, and then you get the change to something else. Yeah. And that's the beginning of your your journey, your journey. begins in a normal place a railway station, a carpark and then boom, off you are you're on your way to somewhere else. And that's in a sense that that's the impact of choosing to go to a new or different and exciting setting.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, I think we've already touched on my next question, but just in case there's anything you want to develop further. Setting's being discussed as being another character, and I think that's a fabulous way of putting it. Why is setting so important?

Joanne Harris :

Well, because I think that we're all affected by place. Yeah, not only we the readers, but characters are affected by places Well, everybody is the result of the place they live, the place they were born. we behave differently in different settings. It's, it's an insight into characterization, as well as a way of creating a fully immersive story. And and sometimes settings are so important that without them that the story He just wouldn't exist. If you look at your one of my favourite books, Gorman gassed where basically this this place this entirely invented fantastical castle and its environments is actually the thing that holds all the characters together. Without it, they wouldn't. They wouldn't have any interest or any connection.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, that's a brilliant way of putting it. Yes, it's so true. And, but usually when we write a book in a particular setting, we use that setting for the whole book. For example, if you're writing a crime book, and it's in an urban setting, you tend to stay in the urban setting, there might be a side trip a trip but otherwise they stayed where they are. But in our fair, the setting changes at the flick of a well placed word. It's absolutely brilliant. Seriously, I mean, howow did you do this and make it seem so natural?

Joanne Harris :

Well, this is this is the story of a journey. It's an emotional journey. I'm in that this is a woman coming to terms with her grief, but it's still So a kind of fantasy journey from reality, through dream, to the land of death. And so I wanted to I wanted to make it like a physical journey. I mean, obviously, in your urban crime novel, the journey is much more about finding out who the criminal is. It's an investigative journey. This one is a physical as well as a spiritual as well as an emotional journey. And I wanted to, to create stages in that journey that would reflect my protagonists state of mind. So she starts off in the real world in the real London, having lost her daughter, not really knowing what to do because she's a widow. Her daughter was everything she had. She starts running, because running is the one thing that she feels that she can do to help her overcome grief. And I think a lot of people who have mental health issues find that exercise helps and so she runs and runs and runs, until eventually she finds herself meeting. These these strange people who might be homeless people who who might be something else in London at night, and it's deserted. And then something happens that disconnects her with the real world and she starts going off into this kind of this this fantasy London. Well, it was fun to see when I wrote it. In the time of the Corona, it became real because London was deserted. And, you know, you know, people will think when they read this book that I wrote it this year, because there are lots of scenes of deserted, empty, eerie London with nobody there. But in fact, this is just a reflection of her state of mind. It's that it's the emptiness inside her which is reflected all around her and little by little, a little bit like Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. London becomes a forest by increments. She walks past shops and she sees that they're derelict and there are brambles and things growing through the windows. She doesn't know what's going on. This is a transition phase is the transition between her reality and her grief and her beginning to, to start on this journey. And so I kind of do it gently by, by increments. But it's, it's very much a story about the natural world taking over the city and how because I live in a word, it's quite easy to do that. I mean, I'm surrounded by the natural world doing aggressive things to try and take over, particularly this summer. That's been, that's been very true. So I use real things as a kind of way of entering a fantasy and then later when she finds her way into what is effectively Fairyland, under London, the traditional view of or Fairyland, which is entered through a crack in the ground, and which is full of the uncanny and the strange, then I can really go to town on the on the fairytale details and because this is based very loosely based on truth, stories I've tried to extract certain strands of that. So there is the idea that when you get into Fairyland, things look different people look different people may not be entirely human. And your journey, which seems like an ordinary journey, and an ordinary vehicle actually might be something very different. Yeah. And there's the idea of, you know, you will be presented with a feast of magical food, which, if you partake of it will somehow bind you to that place. And so you have to refuse to eat. And so Fei, Fei, my protagonist, goes through the story being offered wonderful meals and having to turn them down because she knows that she has to move on. She can't stay where she is. Yeah.

Wendy Jones :

I mean, the whole thing is just so brilliantly done. I'm not joking. I'll tell you how good you are with setting and I'm going to say this because you brought it up anyway. I wouldn't have brought it up. But you said that the shops are full of forests and things when you mentioned Waterstones in the books and I'm screaming at the book. No, how could you do that to Watersrones.

Joanne Harris :

I would like to see that.

Wendy Jones :

I had to calm down and say, Wendy it's a story.

Joanne Harris :

I think that you know, because because I don't live in a city because I'm drawn to the countryside to nature to wilderness. And a lot of my books are about the, the odd relationship we have with nature, the way that a lot of my characters become less and less happy, as they become disconnected with with nature, and when they reconnect with nature again, they become happier and more integrated. All these these three illustrated novellas that I wrote, yeah. Which I have to say I kind of owe to one wonderful trip to sky and I'll tell you about that later. They are all about the existence of people with a nature pocketful of crows is about a wild girl who lives in the woods. The blue Silk Road is about a selkie who is enslaved by humans? Yeah. This one is about a woman living in a city who is desperately unhappy who finds her way into the natural world in the magical world at the same time, and there's this kind of repeated theme and it keeps coming back to me and to me that that relationship is really at the heart of a lot of what we think of as fairy tale.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, yeah, that's, I mean, you're right. And the way you're explaining it's brilliant because it really lets us know how you can do it and how you can do it naturally. And you do do it naturally. But we've been saying there are several different settings in our fair, how do you keep track of them all? Because to be honest, it was, as I say, the setting just changes in an instant. You could do it in one minute you're on a you know, a train the next minute you're transported. Superb. How do you keep track of it all?

Joanne Harris :

Well, I had I had a general plan. Where my character was going? Yeah. And I sort of, I thought that she would start in the city, then she would find her way under the city, which is Fairyland. And she has a vehicle to take the rest of the way it is the night train. It's it's a vehicle that's popped up in a number of my stories before and this is a train that goes everywhere. And that terminates in the land of death. And so she has to get on board. She also has to get off because she doesn't want to be dead. She just wants to visit the land of death and try to get her daughter back. And so I thought, well, you know, it can take her to the sea. And then the sea will give her another idea of how to begin the next leg of her journey. And she will travel through dream which in in the world that I write in the fantasy world that I write dream is a river, which again has its own trajectory, and it's it's its own way of transporting people. And then finally she finds herself to the land of death, which I've always I've always described as a kind of, of desert with nothing But dust and the dust is the bones of millions of people. Yeah. And and it's King can make anything out of dust. But basically it's just illusion. And he is he is one of my, my trickster characters that I write about all the time. And he is also in some ways very like, you know, the king of fairy because in the, in the child ballad that I'm I'm extensively working with King orfeo and it's not clear whether we're dealing with death or Fairyland and it seems to me that in traditional folklore, it's people are not aware that there's really a difference. There's just a kind of veil. And beyond it, there's something else something mysterious, something uncanny, so you can rewrite it any way you like, but I've, I've kept it quite a traditional pattern. And to me that that the journey thatFay goes on, is this a fairly sort of organic one. City, underground river See, and then the shores of death. So it's it's, to me it felt a very kind of intuitive journey and every transition is triggered by something else. And because I want to keep my readers with me, I don't want to give them too much overwhelming fantasy detail because I think you can lose people that way. So I tend to give them something to focus on. So when failure leaves the real London and goes into the forest, London, the fantasy London, she does it by means of rose which she finds on the ground, and by means of blackberries that she eats from the bushes. Yeah. And by means of smoke that she inhales and it slightly changes her perception of things. When she gets onto the night train. It is after a specific episode, I'm not going to give too much of the story away. But again, it's it's triggered by sensations because we all know what sensations feel like. We all know what we Feels like or what the scent of a rose feels like or what? picking up a seashell from a sandy shore feels like and particularly when I'm writing fantasy, I'm conscious that I need to give people relatable sensations to keep them in that fantasy world because it's much easier if you ground some of your fantasy and reality than if you try to expect your reader to buy into a whole completely disconnected fantasy world. So in short, basically, it's much easier to get people to believe in dragons. If you show them the occasional pile of dragons kept lying around.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, that's true. Yeah, brilliant. These tips are amazing.

Joanne Harris :

Yeah, you know, I did write a book. I wrote a book called 10 things about writing which is full of full of stuff like this.

Wendy Jones :

You're going to make a sale because I'm off to buy this the minute the interview's finished, I won't do it. While I'm interviewing you, because that's unfair, I need to concentrate on you. But the minute This interview is finished, I'm off to buy that book. So you've obviously very good at this where you are brilliant Tata I'm joking. No, but, and, and but, and you've written a book about it. So I've got any tips you can give us for bringing a setting alive so that readers can be transported there.

Joanne Harris :

Well, I think first of all, if it's a real setting, if it's a real place, it's quite important that you should have visited it. I know not everybody you know, if you are writing about Hawaii or New York or something, it's not easy just to jump on a plane and and leg it there. But actually research is really important because sometimes you have to be in a physical place to know what it smells like to know what the air feels like. And there are certain things that you can imagine but there are also always things about real places that will surprise you and physical proximity really helps. I would also say it's important to remember that, you know, we have five senses and we're allowed to use them all in writing. So, you know, sometimes a sense of place can be completely crystallised by a sound, or a smell, or something like that. And it's not just pictures in a book. Um, and yes, grounding things in reality, trying to get people to, to relate to the location to set themselves in there. It's much easier to get people to buy into the idea of a location if you say, it smells like Hot Buttered popcorn, and sea salt. And there is the sound of crickets, and the area's warm and damp. And these things that we intuitively we relate to physical sensations on a level that we're not always conscious of, but it does help to pull us And the more detail the better. I mean, obviously, it's what we don't want masses and masses and masses of, of description because obviously that can sometimes get in the way of telling a story but a nice well placed detail, especially something that the reader may not have thought of before. Yeah, it's really, really useful and can really help pull your reader into a story.

Wendy Jones :

No, you're absolutely right. And I'm interested in what you're saying about visiting a place because it is so true. My next book is set in Dundee and New Orleans because of course, they're so close to each other and we're talking Dunee, Scotland here and New Orleans in America. And but I actually went not because of the book, I went to New Orleans, a book came out of it, but it's not until you get there. Everybody thinks they know New Orleans. Yeah, it's not until you get there you realise you do not know, New Orleans. Nobody in New Orleans thinks it's incongrous for a born again Christian to be running a voodoo museum.

Joanne Harris :

What a wonderful idea. I'd love to go to New Orleans.

Wendy Jones :

Oh, it's amazing. It is amazing. Amazing. Amazing. I want to go back and I was meant to be there this month, but I'm not for various reasons.

Joanne Harris :

That's so melancholy. I know. Yes, I agree. It's it's places are surprising. And even somewhere like New York that we all know from movies. And so we think we know, nobody really knows New York. Nobody really knows Paris because they are changing all the time. Yes. And so the idea that, that you know it because you've seen it in a movie made 10 years ago or even last year. It doesn't. It doesn't convey everything. And of course, I think if you are writing about a real place, you have got to be convinced that you know it well enough to do that. Because otherwise it's it's going to be a challenge convincing your readers.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, and I want to take it just a little further in terms of, you know, you're visiting the areas, but you talk about the underworld or the world of death. Now, I'm gonna make an assumption here that you didn't go there. So how did you go about making it so realistic?

Joanne Harris :

Well, obviously at this point in the story, everybody knows that it's fantasy. But I'm hoping that at this point, people have suspended their disbelief, yeah, enough to kind of go with me. And so from time to time, I will try to give my reader a physical sensation that they can relate to, so that the rest of it will be easier for them to assimilate. And so if I say right, this is the kingdom of death. Death is neither warm nor cold. All of a sudden, you've got yourself a sense of understanding what it might feel like. If I say then it's it's windy, and there's this gritty dust that gets in your eyes there again, we know what that feels like. We're beginning to understand and then I say it's Huge. It's sand that stretches out everywhere you're looking well. Most people haven't been to a desert or anything, but most of them have seen pictures of deserts. And so they'll be starting to, to create that picture in their minds, because that's something that they've they've seen before and they can relate to. Yeah, I think, you know, even when we are writing fantasy worlds, we pull things out of reality, to incorporate them into a fantasy, Nobody. Nobody really invents everything that they that they write. It's just a question of pulling details out of out of the real world and rearranging them in a new and different way. A way that can be something else. Yeah. And then if I say, there's no sky, people go, what, what is that? Gosh, and I'll say, Well, it looks like there's a sky but it's a very, very low sky and there's no sun in it. And so it's, and so anybody who lives in Yorkshire will know what those days look like. Those days where the clouds are so low that you can't really believe that there's much beyond them. So they're going I'm still with you, okay I'll buy that.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, no, it was you're right by the time you get there you it's, you know, you're right there with you, you travel the whole journey. I did not come out that journey at one point not for anything I just kept reading and reading and reading.

Joanne Harris :

So glad to hear that. It's always what you hope for as a writer, but it's it's, it's very difficult to know if you've made it work until you've actually got readers and you can ask them.

Wendy Jones :

Oh, no, you definitely made it work. And I'm glad I got an advance copy. I feel quite honoured to be honest.

Joanne Harris :

Thank you. I'm so pleased you've liked it. It's It's It's not out yet. And so I haven't really had much chance to get any feedback from anybody and because 600 new books are also coming out on the same day, my books coming out. Well, that was a challenge.

Wendy Jones :

We're going to tell them how to get this absolutely fantastic book at the end of the interview, and we'll tell them all about it, how to get it when to get it when I'm there with you, because everybody needs to buy this book. I'm telling you so far. So what would be your top three tips for a writer when it comes to setting?

Joanne Harris :

Well, tip number one.Remember all your senses? Yeah, and to use them all. Tip number two, if it's a real place, do your research and preferably go there, if you possibly can. Yeah. And if it's not a real place, read as much as possible. And, you know, try to bring as much reality into your setting as you can, so that you can pull people in with your imagination by by giving them things to relate to. It's, it's it's easy to buy into an enchanted forest. If you know what a real forest is like. Yeah, first of all, you make your forest real and then you put your enchanted details on top of it.

Wendy Jones :

Fantastic tips, they really, really are, the whole thing's been fantastic. I want to discuss your book just a Little more. And I know we've been referring to your book throughout, quite rightly so because it's it's such the settings were so good. And I don't want to give too much away, obviously. But it's a modern fairy tale, and fairy tales and folklore becoming more mainstream as novels at the moment. They're really popular. Why do you think this is and what made you decide to go down this route?

Joanne Harris :

Well, honestly, it's a route I've always been going down all my books pretty much are taken from traditional fairytale ideas in one way or another. Even the ones that are set in the real world but don't seem to be that close to fairy tales. Most of them have got some element of that because I think actually what we've got here in this country, is this incredible folkloric heritage. And we've been shaped by fairytales whether we know it or not, in all genres, including fantasy genres, including mainstream literary genres, even crime genres, you know, it's we have got elements of these these fairy tales that are At the heart of our storytelling, our traditional storytelling, yeah. And, you know, there's a reason that these these stories are still alive. They address something that needs addressing. It's if we have a look at the fairy tales that we were brought up with, yeah, you know, the traditional fairy tales of Great Britain and North America and Europe. Yeah. They have the same kind of characters, the same kind of journeys. They express the same kind of hopes and dreams and fears. They are stories about oppression, about seeking your heart's desire, about love saving us about monsters being overcome by courage. About good being rewarded and evil being punished and these things these are very universal ideas. They're not and they're not ideas for sure. Neither that, you know, it was the Victorians that decided that fairies were for children before that everybody knew that fairies were part of that dark aspect of nature that we are always trying to replicate and which is a bit scary.You know, the heart of the woods is not a place for children to be. It's, it's, it's a place where people build campfires and tell stories around them in order to keep their minds off the dark. And and the people who these fairy stories were written for initially, they were adults, they were people with harden toughen short lives, and they needed something to give them order and meaning. Yeah, and so fairy stories to me are a kind of various kind of key to the psychology of human beings at a time when psychology hadn't been invented yet and, you know, a kind of pre Freud in age where we didn't quite realise That what we were doing was telling everybody about our secret thoughts and fears. And to deconstruct fairytales now and you see that they're very much about that they are about the, the psychology of coming to terms with the fear of death and monsters, whatever you call monsters, whatever, you know, we might not believe in the monsters that people believed in 400 years ago, but there are certainly monsters out there. Yeah, and and we still have to face them down with courage. And so none of these things have changed. We still need fairy stories, we still need those messages. And I think particularly during lockdown, and during this this continuing odd time of coronavirus, people have turned to to fairy stories because sometimes there are things that you can't quite articulate in any other way than by making them into a story.I mean, this is this is why I wrote or Orfeia the way I did. It's about grief. And there is something about grief that that means that a lot of people just can't talk about it. They don't talk about it. They just, they just sit on it and they hold it to themselves and and they just hope that it will go away somehow that this there was some magic one that they could wave that would make it disappear. So I did a story about a woman in exactly that position where, yeah, where she, she works out her story through this. This fantastic journey. Yeah, because who hasn't wanted to turn back time? raise the dead. Who hasn't asked themselves? What would happen if that if that were possible?

Wendy Jones :

Yeah, you're absolutely right. I think we all have done at some point, we would always like to go back in time and change something. Absolutely. You know, and grief is one of the big things where we really want to do that. Yeah, I think so. Yes. And the idea that you know, you could if you could go back have time with somebody you'd lost. What would you say to them? What would you do if you could inhabit a memory? Yeah.

Joanne Harris :

Again for a time, what would you do? Yeah, I think these these are things that are pretty well known and universal to everybody. And a lot of stories are effectively a kind of exploration of feelings like that.

Wendy Jones :

Yeah. So time has this has been brilliant. It's been amazing. We've learned so much and you've been very decent in giving us your time. I have to say it's a pleasure, really. But my final question is Where can my listeners find out more about you and your books?

Unknown Speaker :

Well, I have got a website, which is Joanneharris.co.uk. And I've also got a YouTube account where I give tips for writers and I've got these little kind of mini seminars of 10 minutes so if you if you are a writer And you would like to to follow those then just follow me on YouTube. Or there's Twitter, of course, which is kind of my second home where I just talk to anybody who talks to me.

Wendy Jones :

You're fantastic on Twitter, I have to say,

Joanne Harris :

I enjoy Twitter. It's kind of my watercooler. It's where I get to talk to people that I like who are colleagues or who I've met on various journeys, but I just don't get to see very often because especially now I spend most of my time in my shed working and and it's quite nice to keep in touch with with with people that that, you know, I might meet at literary festivals once a year, but on Twitter, I can talk to them every day. Absolutely. No, you know, this is nice, because I think particularly not living in a city, not getting to see other people even in normal times. Very often. It's quite nice to have a circle of like minded people on Twitter, and of course it you know, it's nice to connect with readers too. So i'm john Shukla on Twitter. And yeah you can you can talk to me they're excellent but you're the important thing and of all of this the book our fair is coming out on the third of September Am I right? It is indeed third of September and there's the the hardback which is beautiful with a lovely cover by Sue gent who does my gorgeous cover art and with the most astonishing illustrations inside by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, who illustrated my two other novellas as well. And there is the audiobook which I narrated. Oh, I tell you that was a tough brief. Yes, but it was enjoyable. Yeah, I found I had to invent a lot of tunes on the spot because it so happens that I wrote a lot of lyrics and riddles and things that required singing and so I had to do that. So Oh my Yeah, it was it was a bit of a labour of love for me that one,

Wendy Jones :

I'm so impressed, but the book comes out on the third and this podcast goes out on the second and although It's being recorded slightly earlier than that it goes out on the second so you've only got one day where you can pre order and trust me guys this is one that you will want to buy it is amazing and the illustrations are outstanding the whole thing is I mean I don't even really read fairy tales but I was engrossed from the get go with this one was just stunning. It's as a story it works beautifully as a tool for writers just finding out how you can write setting and make it realistic. This is the book to buy. And so where can they buy it? They can buy it from all the usual places. Is that right?

Joanne Harris :

Absolutely. All the usual places. Book Depository is a good one if you're not in, in the UK. But yeah, you can you can order it from Amazon from Waterstones from all the usual places. There are links on my website for where to buy it if you're not sure. Excellent.

Wendy Jones :

Well, thank you very much, Joanne. I really appreciate you taking time out your busy day and joining me here.

Joanne Harris :

It's a pleasure. Thank you, Wendy.

Wendy Jones :

Take care. Have a great day. And you too. That brings us to the end of another show. It was really good to have you on the show with me today. I'm Wendy h Jones and you can find me at Wendy H jones.com. You can also find me on Patreon where you can support me for as little as $3 a month which is less than the price of a tea or coffee. You go to patreon.com forward slash Wendy h Jones. I'm also Wendy Jones on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Thank you for joining me today and I hope you found it both useful and interesting. Join me next week when I will have another cracking guest for you. Until then, have a good week. And keep writing. Keep reading and keep learning