An Interview with Author Jenny Worstall

Jenny Worstall is the author of several short story collections and the novel Make a Joyful Noise which I enjoyed reading several months ago. My review of Make a Joyful Noise is here. I'm delighted that Jenny has agreed to answer some questions about the book and about her writing.

Why did you write Make a Joyful Noise?

I have always been interested in writing fiction and when I was at home with my first child on maternity leave I attended a creative writing course. The first story I wrote was accepted by ‘The People’s Friend’ which was so encouraging. This story (now slightly modified) appears as Infant Barbarian in one of my short story collections. I continued writing short stories and found one of them about a choir rehearsal just refused to end. I sought advice from the creative writing tutor who said it read like the beginning of a novel – and so Make a Joyful Noise came into being.

What kind of reader would enjoy Make a Joyful Noise?

Make a Joyful Noise (Book 1 in the ‘Sing with the Choir’ series) is a musical romantic comedy and appeals to readers of all ages who like a light hearted read with plenty of fun along the way. Anyone who has been involved with teaching, particularly music teaching, or has an interest in choirs and choral music will probably recognise some of the characters from their own experience, but I think the story has relevance to a wider audience, with its themes of unrequited love and making the right choice of partner. The backdrop to the book is William Walton’s choral masterpiece Belshazzar’s Feast and the chapter headings are taken from the libretto. I like to imagine readers listening to Walton’s music at full volume while they make their way through the book. The first word of Make a Joyful Noise (Slain!) is taken from one of the most dramatic parts of the music. It is also the last word of the novel and becomes significant in my next novel, The Funny Business of Life, but more about that later.

How did you develop your characters?

The characters grew from tiny seeds in my mind, planted there from something I had heard (for example, one mother accusing another of being a member of the ‘food gestapo’) or something I had noticed, like an unusual pair of shoes. I made a plan of action for my characters – and then they did their own thing. That’s when I knew they had come alive. Some characters made their way from my short stories into the novel, for example, Elinor, a ballet accompanist in one of the stories in ‘Lemon and Lace’, was determined to feature in Make a Joyful Noise.

What has been the biggest influence on your career as a writer?

The biggest influence on my writing is my love of music. Sometimes I try NOT to write about music and have managed it in a few stories (like Dolls’ House from my collection Jubilee Violin), but once I get beyond 2,000 words or so, the rhythms and patterns just creep in. My characters seem to need it.

Are you working on any new writing at the moment?

I have just published my second novel, The Funny Business of Life (Book 2 in the ‘Sing with the Choir’ series). The opening scene is set in 2014, eleven years after the end of Make a Joyful Noise. Both books can be read either as part of a series or as standalone titles. I was going to call the new novel ‘Slain!’, as it opens with a brutal stabbing (poor Tristan – what a fate), but I thought it sounded a bit gruesome and so took the title from dialogue later in the book, when the mystery at the heart of the book is being solved.
The Funny Business of Life is a not entirely serious murder mystery – or is it? You will have to read it to find out.

Many thanks Jenny for taking time out of your busy life to answer my questions. I certainly intend to read The Funny Business of Life. In fact, at the time of publishing this blogpost I'm just about to begin and I'm looking forward to reading it.

You can find details of all Jenny Worstall's book on her Amazon author page.