Saturday 13 January 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Jess Molyneux

It's that time of the week again when I get to hang out with an author and today I'm chatting to Jess Molyneux.

Before we get started allow me to introduce you all to her and find out about her book and why she wrote it.

Photo courtesy of Jess Molyneux

Jess Molyneux is the alter-ego of Sue Bordley, a writer from the Wirral Peninsula. After a twenty-year teaching career, her first novel, 'X Y, Z' was published in 2017. With readers ranging from older teens to young adults, her novels are light-hearted and enjoyable, but firmly entrenched in the real world.

When asked why she wrote this book, this was her reply:

"During my time as a teacher, I realised that there was a type of book missing from the available fiction for young people: a story that depicted a sexual relationship based on mutual respect, that could give my intended readership (girls considering their first physical relationship) a realistic insight into what they could expect in a way no Citizenship lesson could do. Issues such as consent, contraception and safe sex are handled responsibly as the main character moves from being nervous about her first time to a young woman who is confident in her relationship."

I think this a great idea and it reminds me of books I read by Judy Blume when I was a young girl.


'Alex Ryan. The one thing that makes sitting through four hours of English Literature each week bearable. He's gorgeous, funny and talented, and I'm... well, I'm me.'

Being with Alex is all Zoe's dreamed about for the whole of Year 12... but when he gets the chance to realise his dreams, does she love him enough to risk losing him?

If you like those miserable stories where it's the end of the world and people are being forced to eat each other in a police state, then this book might not be for you. However, if you're looking for a feel-good romance where no-one's dead at the end, come on in.

This is a story of first love, including some mature content. Recommended age 15 and over. 

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Did you consider writing under a pseudonym?
Jess Molyneux is a pseudonym! My real name's Susan Bordley, but as my first name's been out of fashion for a couple of decades, I felt it 'outed' me as an older person (I was 44 when I wrote my debut novel, 'X Y, Z') and that a younger audience might be more attracted by a younger-sounding name. Molyneux comes from the name of the first road I lived on as a child.

What's your favourite under-appreciated book?
Can I be greedy and pick two, one YA and one for adults? 'Chasing the Dark' by Sam Hepburn is a brilliant YA adventure/thriller, and 'Sleb' by Andrew Holmes is a fantastic book that manages to create humour from some very dark subject matter. Both left me wishing I'd written them.

Humour and very dark subject matter 😏 – that sounds like just my kind of book! *Makes a note to check it out later*

Which do you think is more important, character or plot?
Character every time. I think it's really important to get the reader to care about your main character/s in the opening pages. If I'm reading a book and I don't care about the characters, it doesn't matter what events the author's devised.

Do you often hear from readers and what do they say?
As my novel, 'X Y, Z' is a YA/adult crossover, I hear from both teenagers and readers in their twenties. The teenagers ask me how I know what they're thinking, and the older readers say they wish a book like 'X Y, Z' had been around when they were a teenager!

What did you edit out of your last book?
Originally, my main character was something of an overconfident man-eater. I decided to change that and gave her some of the insecurities many girls have, making her more relatable to my intended audience.

Which character from your book would you be least likely to get along with?
That'd be Mr Burton, the headteacher of the school my two main characters attend. He doesn't bother to remember Alex's name on several occasions. I was a teacher for 20 years and always wanted to get to know the names of every students in my classes as soon as possible – it shows you care, which Burton doesn't seem to do.

You get an idea at an inappropriate moment, like driving or in the shower, what do you do?
I hold onto that thought! If I'm in the car, I turn the radio off and play the idea over to myself in my mind on a loop until I can get to a pen and paper. I often get ideas just as I'm about to fall asleep when I'm too tired to start writing, but I can't let it go. This is where the Memory Monkey comes in. He's a small toy monkey that I keep on the floor by my bed. If I get an idea, I reach out and put him on the bedside table to remind me there's something I have to do in the morning. He's never failed me yet!

What advice would you give your younger self?
Get started sooner! When I was 14, my English teacher told me that I should consider writing as a career. I've got there in the end, but I wish I hadn't waited so long.

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You can find out more about Jess, her book and connect with her using the links below:

I'd like to thank Jess for taking the time to stop by and chat with me today, it's been a pleasure. Now I need to find out where I can get myself a troop of memory monkeys to put by my bed!

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