Who Is Joni Scott?
- What inspired you to write a book?
My sister’s family history research inspired me to write my first book, Whispers through Time. I was on holidays reading one of Kate Morton’s historical novels, when it occurred to me that our family had a mystery. So, I set about writing about my grandparents, filling in the gaps and silences with the magic dust of fiction. While this book, Whispers through Time, was being published, I could not stop, so started the sequel and was ¾ through that one when I contracted a rare neurological condition which sent my life into a spin. With no cure on offer in Australia, I booked treatment in Italy and my husband and I set off two days after the 2020 virus outbreak in Northern Italy. We were fortunate to get there without a lockdown but once in Genova we experienced lockdowns, 1, 2, 3 and 4. This adventure is the basis of my latest book, The Last Hotel, but again, fiction takes over to deliver some magic and romance.
- Who is your favourite author and why?
That is difficult, as our favourites can alter over time. Probably a tie between Kate Morton and Sally Beauman. They both immerse the reader in another time in history and are excellent writers.
- What is your favourite food?
Another difficult question! None of the food that I cook is my favourite, I know that for sure. I like Asian food, particularly Vietnamese and Cambodian meals as they are so fresh and flavoursome with the spices and herbs I love; coriander, ginger and lemongrass.
- What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I keep goldfish in ponds and aquariums; I tutor maths and science to high school and university students; I enjoy the company of my adult children, walk the beach with my husband, have coffee with friends and my sister…
- As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a chemist, i.e., as in chemistry, not pharmacy. This I did by studying organic chemistry at Sydney University, then embarking on a career using my degree.
- What do you think makes a good story?
A bit of mystery, romance, fascinating characters and for me an interesting setting. I like books set around the World War1 and WW2 era, especially if they have an intriguing plot and are well written.
7. What was one of the most surprising things you learned from writing your book?
I was surprised that the words just flowed out of me from somewhere, especially when I lay down in bed at night. So, I have lost lots of sleep hopping back up to write down what pours into my mind. As I have operated as a maths/science person all my life, I didn’t know that I could write fiction. Writing has been purely accidental and totally unexpected. But now I am hooked!
- When did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
I never realised I wanted to be a writer until I became a writer! After the first book happened, my sister, who read each chapter after I wrote it (as I sent them to her), decided ‘we’ should publish it. She was the one who sent it off to 8 publishers. I thought they would all say, “No, thanks” and laugh at my efforts, but 4 replied saying they would publish it. This was a huge shock. I was in disbelief for quite a while, thinking they must be vanity publishers, as the internet warns writers about this. I nearly did not proceed at all. I sat on the fence about it all for months but finally replied to the two London publishers who are not vanity publishers at all, as I thought London was a better place to publish a book about the Victorian Times.
- How long does it take you write a book?
They seem to happen rather quickly, about five months for the two already published. The little pixies in my head whisper them out a chapter at a time. But my current book has taken a bit longer because I became so ill when I was halfway through. I lost the use of my right hand, arm and shoulder when I contracted CRPS, so things ground to a halt. Then I learnt to tip-tap with my left hand on an iPad and I was off again. When my hand gets sore now, I use an apple pencil and scrawl out the story and press the magic button “Convert all” and my scrawl turns to text! It is the best thing; I love this amazing tool.
- Can you share with us what your next book will be about?
It is the sequel to my first book, Whispers through Time. As I didn’t know I was writing a “book’ when I wrote this first one, the story concludes when my grandmother as a young woman arrives in Sydney from London. As there is so much more to tell, I started the sequel, Time, heal my Heart, which encompasses the world war One era and the Spanish flu outbreak. I was researching the Spanish Flu when the Coronavirus happened. It was rather spooky, a hundred years on exactly. I am nearly finished and will be submitting this manuscript to Austen Macauley in June/July. At the same time, I have started another book called Tangles inspired by my hairdresser. It is about the tangled lives of a hairdresser and the women who come to her salon. It contains a strong cultural Indian element as one of the characters is Indian and I love the colours, sights and aromas of India. This is definitely a fun project, so different from the others that required so much background research because of the historical content.