Welcome to Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. Here to share a pot of tea and to chat about her brand new book, The Memories We Hide, is Jodi Gibson.
Jodi Gibson is an Australian author of women’s contemporary fiction. She writes in two genres – character-driven drama, and rom-com.
Jodi lives on a mini-farm in regional Australia with her husband, daughters and a menagerie of animals. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her with her nose in a book, or in the kitchen baking and dreaming of her next travelling adventure.
Hello Jodi. It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews. Thank you for joining me for Tea with Mrs B, an author interview series. To set the mood for our tea infused interview, what is your preferred beverage, tea, coffee or other? And side accompaniment, scone, cake or other?
Hello Mrs. B, it’s such a pleasure to be here. I’d love a tea, English breakfast preferably, white with one. And I have been known to be partial to a piece of cake. Carrot, chocolate, banana – anything really!
Can you tell us what genres you write for and how many books you have had published?
The Memories We Hide is my debut novel, but it will hopefully be the first of many. I write under the broad genre of contemporary women’s fictions, which as we know, encompasses a whole range of sub-genres. I enjoy writing heavier character driven dramas, but I also write rom-com/chick-lit. I like switching between the two in what I write, and also what I read.
Can you describe your new book, The Memories We Hide, in just a sentence?
The Memories We Hide is a novel exploring the complexities of relationships, friendship, the consequences of secrets and split-second decisions, and how our brains shape our memories.
What came first in the creation of the novel – the title, plot, characters or setting when you first set out to write The Memories We Hide?
It was definitely the idea for the plot. I’ve always been intrigued by memory and how one person’s recollection of an event can be different from another. I then wondered what if you threw a tragic event into the mix – how does that taint the memory and impact the individual?
How long did it take you to write The Memories We Hide?
On and off five years. I wrote a basic first draft during NaNoWriMo 2014 and put it aside for a little while. After that it went through many drafts before I was ready to hand it to my editor, and then after more rewriting and redrafting I’d finally realised it was done. Although every writer will tell you, a book is never ‘done’, you just have to step away from it.
Can you tell us more about the main themes of your novel?
I’d say friendship, self-preservation and memory are the main themes in the novel. Friendships are always so complex and I love exploring that. I also wanted to explore how people respond to certain events within the friendship. I think we are wired to go into a self-preservation mode which will either protect and heal us, or take us down the path where the only way forward is to go back. I love the psychology of the mind too, which is where memory comes into it. There is so much we don’t know about how and why memories form and what our brain does with them. I’ve always been fascinated by nostalgia and memory, so it was always going to be something I want to explore.
Where did the inspiration for your characters come from?
I’m not sure if I drew inspiration from anyone or any particular situation. The characters came to me quite well formed, so that was a challenge getting them on the page and making them come across to the reader as clearly as they were in my head. The relationship between the four main characters; Laura, Tom, Ryan and Rachel was always going to be the integral part of the story.
Can you tell us more about the setting of your novel?
Like memory, I’ve always been intrigued with small towns. I grew up and still live in a small regional centre and I love the sense of community, but there are also drawbacks such as gossip, everyone thinking they know everyone else’s business. And there are so many different characters to explore in small towns who can really bring a story to life, and I love that.
What was the most challenging and rewarding aspects of writing The Memories We Hide?
The most challenging was getting the structure right. The story started off as a dual timeline but the earlier storyline was taking up too much space almost turning it into a YA novel. As much as I love YA, I didn’t want it to be YA novel so with my editor we worked on how to make the present timeline the more prominent one and that’s when the story began to come together.
The most rewarding aspect was finishing! I still remember the final rewrite when I got to the end and knew it was done. I knew I’d done all I can with Laura’s story, and I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. It’s a great feeling.
What ingredients do you feel are necessary to compose a successful contemporary fiction narrative?
It’s all about emotion. We read to feel. Whether that is excitement, tension, to laugh, to cry, to experience something totally different to the world we know. As a writer, it’s something I keep very much in the forefront of my mind while I’m writing. I want to spark that all important emotion in the reader so they will connect with the story and characters.
What do you hope readers will take away from reading The Memories We Hide?
Hope. That no matter how bad a situation, how confusing, how many mistakes have been made, how much you may not ever understand someone’s actions, there’s always hope. And also that the bond of friendship is one of the most important things we can have in life.
If The Memories We Hide made it to the big screen, who would you like to cast?
Oh wow! I’m pretty sure every writer casts their books for screen don’t they? It’s so much fun! But, I’m also hesitant to reveal who I would cast. I always think it’s important for the reader to bring the characters to life in their head as they see them. I’m going to keep my cast cards close to my chest until someone like Bruna Papandrea comes knocking!
How did you make the transition to a published author?
When I decided I wanted to be a published author I began on the traditional path of querying agents and publishers, and although I had some positive and encouraging feedback, I began to feel despondent that I may never break thorough. I became frustrated because I have so many story ideas and want be a career author. To think that it might never happen, not because my writing isn’t good enough, but just because there’s only so many opportunities available at any one time. It was then I began researching the indie publishing industry. After six months of intense research I decided that was the path I wanted to take. And because I want to be a career author, I have put everything into producing a professional book that is indistinguishable from a traditional published book. After all, readers don’t care who published the book or how, they just care about a good story.
Can you tell us about your creative working space, where do you write and is there anything vital you need to get started?
I’m a neat freak. I need my writing space to be organised and neat before I start! At the moment, I only have a writing desk in an open study area near our staircase, but I find I like to work at the kitchen table, on the couch or outside overlooking the yard and paddock (on a nice day of course!). One day, I hope to have a dedicated writing space, but it’s more of a want than a need.
Do you have any advice for the aspiring writers out there?
I’m going to be boring and say keep writing! But seriously, the only way to get a book finished/published – whatever your goal – is to do the work. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but once you’ve finished it’s honestly the best feeling.
Aside from writing, do you have any interesting hobbies?
I love baking (hence my love for cakes!) I have a little side project on Instagram called ‘100 favourite cakes’ where I’m baking 100 cakes over 100 weeks out of the Australian Women’s Weekly 100 Favourite Cakes cookbook from 1972. The book used to be my mums and I have great memories of baking with her when I was young. I think I’ve made about 40 cakes so far, not consecutive weeks though! It’s great fun.
I also love to travel. We recently came back from Italy where I will set the second book in my upcoming rom-com series. And now I’m researching where we can travel to next!
What is next on the horizon for Jodi Gibson? Do you have any writing projects you would like to share with us?
I’m currently working on my 2020 contemporary drama which is a very character driven novel about a missing girl and small-town prejudice. I’m also planning to release at least two books in my first rom-com series. The first book will be called ‘The Five-Year Plan’ and is about two best friends and their plan to conquer the world – well at least love and career – but things don’t really go to plan.
What 2019 book releases are you most excited to read?
So many! There have been so many great releases this year. I was hanging out for Tess Woods’ Love and Other Battles which I finished recently, and it was all that I knew it would be and more. Kaneana May’s debut novel The One was such a great read too, and I’m looking forward to Rachael Johns’ new book out in October too. Then there’s Michael Robotham’s new book, and Jane Green has a new one out in Australia soon. So many!
If you could slip back in time, what era would you travel to and why?
Either the 1920s or 1950s America. I love the cheekiness of the 1920s – so many scandals, and the fashion too. And the 50s feels like it was the last era of innocence – and the cars, and the music!
Finally, wrapping up our tea themed interview, who would you most like to share a pot of tea with?
Meryl Streep. She’s been my favourite actress since I can remember. I love how she challenges herself with so many varied roles. And I’d invite Kate Winslet and Dame Judi Dench – wouldn’t they be fun? And Hugh Jackman, because why not?
Thank you for taking the time to visit Mrs B’s Book Reviews for Tea with Mrs B Jodi. Congratulations on the upcoming publication of The Memories We Hide!
Thank you for having me Mrs. B. It was an honour!
Can you trust your memories?
Laura Murphy has always been intent on leaving the past behind her, however, when she returns home to care for her dying mother, she finds painful memories begin to resurface.
Ten years earlier, Laura had fled the small town after the death of her boyfriend Ryan Taylor but now she is realising there was more to that tragic night than she remembers.
After connecting with childhood friend Tom, Laura soon discovers that even those closest to her hold secrets and betrayals that will make her question her own memories.
Will searching for the truth be too much to bear or will Laura free herself of her hidden memories and finally be able to move on?
The Memories We Hide by Jodi Gibson was published on 20th August 2019. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Jodi here: