Author Josephine Cox: 'Why I can't bring myself to visit Blackburn town centre' (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Author Josephine Cox: 'Why I can't bring myself to visit Blackburn town centre'
From humble beginnings, one of 10 children growing up in Blackburn, Josephine Cox has become one of the country’s leading authors. With her 45th book about to be launched in paperback this week, she tells JOHN ANSON why she can’t bring herself to visit Blackburn town centre...
THE facts and figures surrounding Josephine Cox’s career are staggering.
She’s sold well over 15million copies of her books worldwide, any new book regularly goes to the top of the bestseller lists, she’s one of the most borrowed authors from libraries every year and her output is prolific.
On Thursday, her number one bestseller Three Letters will be published in hardback for the first time, her 45th novel.
“Actually I’m working on number 50 at the moment,” said Jo.
“I think I would have to live to 200 to even have half a chance of writing all the stories I’ve got in my head.
“Even if I didn’t get paid for them I would still write. It’s not just the physical act of writing which I enjoy, it’s getting into my room surrounded by all these characters and watching them develop and seeing where they take me.
“I do get emotionally involved with my characters. When I come to the end of a book I always feel as though I have lost a whole lot of friends. It will take me at least a week to get over it and then I want to get back to writing.”
Three Letters, like many of Jo’s books, has many references to East Lancashire and Blackburn in particular.
“It’s where I grew up,” she said, “those memories are very powerful and stick with you.
“That’s why when I come back to the area I can’t bring myself to go into the town centre. It has changed so much and in my mind I want to remember it as it was, full of character. I know that if I see it now those memories will be pushed out.
“I think the town has lost so many beautiful buildings, I’d rather remember it as it was.
“I think my readers would want this too.
“I get thousands of letters from all over the world, many of them from people who grew up in Blackburn.
“I had one from a lady in Australia who left East Lancashire years ago thanking me for taking her back to the area she grew up in, that was wonderful.”
In Three Letters , Henry Street the street Jo grew up on plays a key role in the unfolding drama.
“Sometimes I can rely on my memories but I will also do my research,” she said. “I use Corporation Park a lot as a location and I’ve researched the history of the park thoroughly to make sure that what I’m saying is accurate and could have happened.
“You have to root your stories in reality, you have to know what you’re talking about to carry the audience along with you. You don’t want them to start thinking ‘well that’s not in the right place’ or ‘that couldn’t happen’.”
Jo said that she currently has six possible ideas for novels on the go.
“Ideas just come to me and I have to write out what is in my mind.
“In my little office I’ve got detailed files for various stories including characters and locations It’s a very useful way of working because when my publishers ask me for a synopsis of my next book I already have something to give them.”
Jo is known for her nostalgic, romantic sagas, but she’s very excited about a new project which next year could reveal her in a very different light.
“Around 20 years ago I wrote a series of psychological thrillers under the name Jane Brindle, my mother’s name,” she said.
“They are long out of print but somehow one of the senior people at Amazon got hold of copies and approached me about re-publishing them as ebooks.
“They got really excited about the idea and hope to take all six thrillers and start releasing them in 12 months time.
“I’m still not sure how I feel about it as these were very much my babies and I don’t want them to be seen as a Jo Cox book. Certainly they will have Jane Brindle as the author to differentiate them from my other work.
“They are pretty powerful thrillers and I don’t think they will be for my regular readers.
“There has also been some interest from Hollywood about the movie rights for them, so it is all very exciting.”
- Three Letters by Josephine Cox is published in paperback by Harper Collins on Thursday, priced £7.99.