| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Aug 28 Fresh off a string of literary
hits, British journalist-turned-fiction novelist Jojo Moyes has
penned her latest best seller, "One Plus One."
At the heart of the book is the unlikely pairing of
successful technology executive Ed and single mother Jess, who
hail from opposite walks of life and undertake a mutually
transformative road trip.
Moyes spoke with Reuters about her writing style, visual
thinking and the growing divide between rich and poor.
Q: How did you handle the transition from full-time
journalism to writing fiction?
A: It was hard. Being in a newsroom is very stimulating and
buzzy, with lots of camaraderie. I would start the day and did
not know where I would wind up. I had a child and was pregnant
with my second, and I realized that I could not run around with
a passport in your handbag with children at home.
I went from the heart of everything to feeling like it's
just me and a computer surrounded by empty silence. I wound up
getting an office, which gave me a reason to get up with a
coffee and paper in hand.
Q: How did you develop your fiction writing skills?
A: I have always written. I was one of those kids who would
always fill exercise books with girls and telepathic ponies. I
started working nights for the newspaper where I had quite a
large amount of the day to fill between waking up and going off
to work. This was before the Internet and daytime television in
the United Kingdom. I wrote to fill my day.
I then lived a Bridget Jones existence in a house with lots
of different apartments. I would hand chapters to different
flats to see whether they were interested enough to keep
reading. It became a challenge to see whether I could get to the
end of the book. It was not enough to write -- I wanted to write
well. I ended up writing three books before getting published.
Q: How did you choose "One Plus One" as the title?
A: It is almost an ironic title because both Edward and
Jessica are at pains in the beginning to stress they do not want
a relationship. They do not have room for it. Jessica says, "I
do not want a one plus one ..."
We wanted a slightly mathematical bent in the title, without
alienating all the readers who didn't like math.
Q: Can you describe your narrative process?
A: Writers divide fairly cleanly into those who only work
through what they hear and those who are more visual. I am the
latter where I lie down on my office floor and play scenes
through my head to cinematically -- several times with different
elements -- to see what works. I can't write a scene until I can
see it. I know a lot of writers who would never do it that way
and prefer focusing their time crafting a perfect sentence.
Q: Were there any social messages that you wanted to convey?
A: I wanted to look at the widening gap between the rich and
poor. When I was growing up, I was told that you could do
whatever you wanted to do as long as you worked hard enough and
were bright and good to people.
I wanted to look at a family with that natural optimism,
determination and talent, in a society where the odds are
increasingly stacked against them. I break Jess down, but I was
told the story was getting bleak so I decided to give the family
a slightly happy ending.
This book was inspired partly by a true story. My cleaner
told me about a neighbor who had slammed the door in her face to
take a call, which happens to Jess in the book. My cleaner felt
like she was treated like she was nothing. I know this neighbor,
who is smart, polite and articulate. I found it hard to
reconcile these actions with the person.
I look at the growing social divide, and it makes me think
about where are we all going. What happens with the mutual lack
of understanding and trust that comes along.
(Editing by Chris Michaud; Editing by David Gregorio)