I’m delighted to welcome fellow Hodder author Jon Rance to my blog, with an exclusive interview to celebrate the launch of his latest novel ‘This Family Life‘.
1) Welcome to my blog Jon! Please tell us more about yourself and your journey to being a writer.
Hello, I’m Jon Rance, author of three novels, ‘This Thirtysomething Life’ and its sequel ‘This Family Life’, and ‘Happy Endings’. I’ve been writing for about ten years, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I got my break and signed a two book deal with Hodder and Stoughton. I’m a bit of a nomad and although I grew up in England, after travelling the world I met my American wife in Australian and I’ve been in California for the last ten years – although we’re coming back to England next year!
2) Your new book ‘This Family Life’ has been influenced hugely by you becoming a father yourself. Can you explain a bit more about how becoming a dad has affected your writing?
Being a father completely changed my writing career. Before I became a dad I worked for a marketing company full-time and wrote in my very little spare time. I wrote three (still unpublished – thankfully) novels during that time, but after we had our first baby I decided to be a stay at home dad.
Two things happened after I started being a full-time dad. One: I had a lot more time to write and think about writing. Two: I got a whole new subject matter to write about. I’ve always believed in writing about what you know and going through a pregnancy with my wife and then raising a child is one of life’s most incredible experiences and as it turns out, packed full of humour and plenty of raw emotion.
Now I have two children and in my latest book ‘This Family Life’ I tackle the first year of parenthood, which as any parent will tell you can be terrifying, tiring, but also so rewarding, and again, full of humour and pathos. I love being a dad and writing about family is something I won’t always do, but being in it and seeing it first hand, at least I have plenty of material.
3) This Family Life explores people’s transitions into their early thirties. This is really interesting. Why did you choose this stage of life to focus on, and why did it inspire you particularly?
Both ‘This Thirtysomething Life’ and ‘This Family Life’ are semi-autobiographical. Both books are written in the diary format from the point of view of Harry Spencer, an early thirties teacher, husband, and eventually father.
Going through the early thirties myself and becoming a parent, being a husband, I started thinking about this time and for me at least, it was a sometimes difficult period. I think in our twenties we’re still trying to find the right job, the right partner, our place in the world, but I know that once I hit thirty I felt this panic that I hadn’t done all those things yet, and then I had a sort of mini and very early midlife crisis. I wanted to focus on this period and show a man struggling to adapt to life, to becoming a father, working on his marriage, and sort of falling apart – but in a very humorous way.
4) What are your writing dreams and ambitions?
Probably like most writers I dream about having a ‘One Day’, ‘Bridget Jones’ sort of success. The book that sells millions of copies around the world. The hardest part about being an up-and-coming-writer, still trying to build a fan base, make a living, is that there’s constant pressure to do well, to make money so I can keep doing it. For me having success is making enough money so that I can help support my family and write. My ambitions are to keep writing, keep getting better, and to hopefully write books that people can relate to and laugh at.
5) You have been reviewed as an excellent rom-com writer. What are your thoughts and feelings on the ‘chick lit’ genre?
I definitely wouldn’t categorise my work as chick lit. I don’t have a problem with the genre and there’s some great chick lit writers out there. The thing is, I don’t really think of genre when I’m writing. It isn’t like I try and write a certain way or fit into a particular pigeon hole. Genres are just tags given to writers to help publishers and readers, but in reality there’s a lot more to most ‘chick lit writers’ that I read than standard, formulaic boy meets girl. I don’t mind being shoved on the chick lit bandwagon, but only because there isn’t really a specific genre for what I do, and there’s so many great books on the same bandwagon.
6) What are your three favourite books?
Oh gosh, this is a tough one. My favourite book will always be ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, because I read it when I was about fifteen and it really inspired me to be a writer. More recently I would have to go with ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls because again it inspired me. ‘One Day’ is such a wonderful book that really captures a time and a love story that draws you in and then there’s the ending that blows you away. These are my two definite top three books, but after that there are lots of books I could add to the list. It’s a toss-up between ‘High Fidelity’ by Nick Hornby and ‘Man and Boy’ by Tony Parsons. ‘Man and Boy’ is one of those books you read and you know it’s written from experience. It’s emotional, funny, and honest – the three things I always try and capture in my own work. ‘High Fidelity’ is the book that really carved open a genre for men and is such a funny, true to life book about relationships and love.
Thanks for the interview Jon!