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Writer Highlight – Joanne Hall

Writer Highlight

Today we have another awesome writer highlight, where we’re joined by the lovely Joanne Hall. Joanne is a Bristol, UK based writer who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a few times before.

In fact, it’s fair to say that Jo has helped GeekOut South-West a lot in the past, so it’s truly an honour to have her on our humble little blog. So, without further adieu, here is Joanne’s interview!

Writer Highlight – Jo Hall

Q: Thanks for taking the time to join us on GeekOut South-West. First of all, would you mind introducing yourself for all of our wonderful readers?

A: Hello lovely readers! I’m Jo – I’m a serial event-organiser, fantasy author, editor, greyhound mum and lover of all things geeky. I live in North Bristol and like chocolate (and gifts of chocolate), and you can find me blogging at

The lovely Jo Hall!

The lovely Jo Hall!

Q: You’re a writer, who has released a brilliant book called Rider, which is book one in a two part novel called The Art of Forgetting. What was the inspiration behind writing Rider/The Art of Forgetting?

A: The Art of Forgetting is one book in two volumes, Rider and Nomad and it’s in two volumes because, George RR Martin style, it was just too darn long to be published as one book. The inspiration behind it came from a loose thread left hanging at the beginning of an earlier series of books I had written (soon to be republished by Kristell Ink). I had a character, Rhodri, whose story was left unfinished, and the Art of Forgetting takes up his story and concludes it. You don’t have to have read the earlier books to enjoy this one, though!

Q: As a writer, do you already have both of the books planned out in your head? Instead, do you like to have your ideas flow naturally? What’s the writing process like for you?

A: I’m a complete pantser, I only ever start plotting when I get halfway through a book, and I plot very loosely. I think half the fun of writing is seeing where the journey takes you when you wander off the path. With The Art of Forgetting, which was a very easy book to write and a very hard one to edit, I woke up one morning with the opening paragraphs almost fully formed in my head, and I had to get up and write them down before they escaped (I had actually been working on a completely different book at the time, and AoF ambushed me!).

I do like to have my ideas flow naturally; that way ideas lead to other ideas and the story reveals itself naturally. I think too much plotting can force the story into a shape it doesn’t want to be, and then it’s harder to write. But that’s just how I work; as with all creative endeavours, your mileage may vary wildly!

The first in the two part story: The Art of Forgetting. It's a wonderful read!

The first in the two part story: The Art of Forgetting. It’s a wonderful read!

Q: You also work on running a local annual convention called BristolCon. What was the inspiration behind starting BristolCon?

A: I blame BristolCon on one too many pints. I was having a pint with my late great friend Colin Harvey, and we were bemoaning the fact that, while Bristol is absolutely teaming with SFF writers, artists, enthusiastic geeky types (as you know!), we didn’t have our own convention.

So, being a little sozzled, we decided it would be fun to organise one, and when we sobered up, we still thought it would be fun, so we did it. The first year we ran for an afternoon and we had about 60 people turn up, and it kind of snowballed from there. Booze is a great inspiration…

Q: You’ve worked closely with several authors thanks to BristolCon and indeed your Bristol Sci-Fi/Fantasy meetups. What more can you tell us about the meetups?

A: The meetups take place approximately on the last Monday of every month in the back room of the Shakespeare Tavern on Prince Street, as they are the most accommodating pub in the Centre and they do the best lemon meringue pie and let us bring in cake and dogs and children if we need to. (Go there, say Hi, tell them I sent you!)

The meet-ups are very informal, it’s basically geeky types getting together and having a nice chat over a couple of pints. And we’re very welcoming. There’s a Facebook group if anyone wants to join!

Click the banner and magically be taken to the BristolCon website!

Click the banner and magically be taken to the BristolCon website!

Q: Have you attended any other kinds of conventions or just any other convention in general? What makes BristolCon different?

A: I’ve been to FantasyCon and World Fantasy Convention, and Microcon in Exeter, as well as Collectormania and Bristol Comic Con. Obviously things like Collectormania and the big commercial cons are very different; they’re more about buying goodies and getting autographs, whereas BristolCon is a lot smaller and more author-orientated, and a lot more chilled out – we don’t have a green room so everybody gets to hang out together in the bars.

It’s very relaxed and we do our best to make sure it’s a friendly atmosphere. It’s like a get-together with 300 friends, and we have panel discussions and signing and all kinds of evening entertainment. We pack a lot into the day, and it’s a lot of fun.

Q: You seem to be very active on social media. Would you say that social media is important for a modern writer?

A: Again, YMMV, but I think it’s important for me. I think if you’re on social media it’s easier to engage with other people in the profession. Writing can be quite an isolated job, and it’s helpful to be able to talk to other people in the same position and gain and provide encouragement to each other. You can find out what agents are looking for, which markets are open to submissions, what’s happening in publishing. Obviously you can find all that without the help of social media, but it’s much slower and more complicated.

The other thing about social media is it’s a great way of staying in touch with and chatting to fans. It means you’re easy to reach if you choose to be, you can organise casual give-aways or let people know what’s going on with your writing. (Mark Lawrence is someone who’s really good at the whole social media side of things). As long as you’re not always up in people’s faces shouting at them to buy your book, it can be really rewarding and a lot of fun, if a bit distracting sometimes. You need to know when to turn it off and actually do some writing ;)

If anyone wants to follow me on Twitter I’m @hierath77

Part two of The Art of Forgetting - Nomad!

Part two of The Art of Forgetting – Nomad!

Q: When the pen (or keyboard) is down and you’re just being you: What are you like as a person in general?

A: Laid-back, lazy, cake-loving. I enjoy reading and gaming and long walks with my equally-lazy dog. I’m quite shy and home-loving, despite the fact that most of my social life seems to revolve around the pub…

Q: Outside of writing now then, what are your interests? Do you have any particularly “geeky” hobbies like the rest of us?

A: I’m not very crafty, I wish I could make costumes but I’m biologically incapable. I like reading, films, games, TV, comics, all the good stuff ;) Con-running is very time consuming, but I think that’s probably my main geeky hobby; organising fun things for other geeky people!

Q: Final question now and we’d normally call this question the “Super Sensei Guru” question. Bare with me on that working title. A budding writer has come to you asking for advice on how to get
noticed and social media alone isn’t doing that. What do you think is the best way for a new author to get their name out there?

A: Start by writing a really great book. Then get involved in everything you can; come to events, offer to help out at events, offer to do panels, socialise with people and help to promote their stuff. It’s a kind of drip-feeding into people’s consciousness, it won’t happen overnight. It’s very rare that anyone writes the next Ancillary Justice or Harry Potter and suddenly achieves instant fame. Don’t jump up and down shouting “Look at Me!”, just be nice and get involved in your community as much as you feel able to. Even if you don’t sell squillions you will gain friends, and I think that’s more important than focussing on Amazon Sales graphs and follower numbers….

Thank you for having me!

We’d like to thank Joanne for taking the time to answer our questions and talk with us all today.

For the record, we at GeekOut South-West have spoken to Jo before and we’ve managed to get ourselves a nice discount on BristolCon providing we get a good enough number to join us (It’s looking good so far)!

If you’re interested in joining us at BristolCon, please check this post from Friday 19th September.

Have you ever been to a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention yourself? What is the most important aspect of a book convention to you as a fan? As always, come join in the discussion and we’ll see you next time!


2 responses

  1. Pingback: Interview Up on Geek Out South West | Joanne Hall

  2. Pingback: BristolCon 2014 is almost here | GeekOut South-West

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