Many thanks to Gransnet / W&N Books for a copy of 'Ridley Road' by Jo Bloom. My thoughts were immediately drawn to the various tributes from years gone by to this period of vibrant, swinging city life and light entertainment many remember fondly. However, Jo Bloom's book is anything but whimsical as it uncovers the appalling anti-semitic events that took place during 1960's Britain. The story is well executed, and the author does well in recreating the authentic vernacular and world of 60's North-East London.
I'd like to ask Jo a few general questions to begin with, if I may ...
QUESTION ONE:- Do you have a personal favourite book/s?
QUESTION TWO:- You've elaborated on your website the reasons that prompted you to write 'Ridley Road'. Clearly something that you feel passionate about, will you be following up with a sequel, or something similar, for your next book?
QUESTION THREE:- How many weeks/months of research went into writing your book? And how important do you feel it is for books based on real events to be 100% factually accurate?
Thank you in advance for your gracious replies to our questions. Wish you the very best of luck with your future 'productions'.
1) Currently, I press Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout into the hands of everyone who will listen to me. She's a terrific writer and it's a fantastic novel. I also love anything by Alice Munro, Colm Toibin, William Trevor, Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Richard Ford and Anne Tyler – to name but a few. I’ve just discovered Kent Harouf.
2) My next book is about a completely different subject, although it will start in 1958 and drift through 1962, finishing up in around 1968!
3) I did a lot of research over three/four years but I did it all a bit cack handed. I did a huge amount before writing the first draft, but then the story changed massively, so lots of the research wasn't helpful. I was still researching details and facts in the final draft/months. I think that's how I
work. I need to get the story down, then do a lot of the research, otherwise I waste a lot of time.
It was really important to me that I was true to the spirit and essence of historical events. I needed to feel I was authentic and I worked really closely with a researcher/journalist who knew a lot more than me about fascist activities from that period. But ultimately, I am writing fiction – drama – and in the end, the events have to serve the story.