Putting Authors in the Picture #26: Joanne Harris - December 2020 Guest Editor

For the first time we have a joint LoveReading Guest Editor and Author in the Picture. Joanne Harris’s first novel was published 1989, and in 1999 her third novel Chocolat received the Creative Freedom Award and Whittaker Gold Award, plus the film adaptation of Chocolat was nominated for eight BAFTAs and five Oscars. Since then she has been a constant on the bestseller lists. On 10 December 2020 Ten Things About Writing is published in hardback by September Publishing. Joanne Owen our Editor Expert is a follower of the Joanne’s #TenThings tweets on Twitter, and declares that she knows Ten Things About Writing is a book that she will keep coming back to. She: “particularly loved the author’s unravelling of the myth of inspiration... And this gem: “Don't write because you want to be a writer. Write because you want to write.” Before we head into the photos, Joanne Owen has asked a couple of questions about the Joanne’s latest book:

One of the things I love most about Ten Things About Writing is its astute, straight-to-the-point approach, and a persistent dismantling of writing myths, especially myths around the Muse and inspiration. Is inspiration one of the things you’re most asked about? What’s your top tip for getting in a good frame of mind to get on with writing? What areas of writing/the publishing process are you most asked for advice on?

A: Most people ask about inspiration because they think they need a particular moment of inspiration before they start writing. In my experience, that tends to hold people back. I always tell them to start writing first, gain some momentum, and let the inspiration come later.  

Which of your own piece/s of advice do you find most tricky to adhere to?

The bits about self-care and time management. I tend to work myself to exhaustion, which is never a great idea.

The practical chapters covering the likes of agents, publishers and the publishing process (from submitting manuscripts, to hosting events) are a much-needed resource, given that the process is somewhat shrouded in mystery to outsiders, and open to being misunderstood. Which industry insight do you wish you’d had at the start of your writing career?

I wish someone had told me to check my contracts for reversion clauses. I still have a number of un-reverted contracts with my first publisher that I’d love to get back...


Joanne’s pictures and captions are gorgeous, and a lovely window into her writing world. I was particularly taken with her drinks cabinet, and the 'booky photos that make her smile’... made me laugh! Do take a look at our December Guest Editor article, as Joanne has recommended a wonderful variety of books. 

Welcome Joanne.

The book that made you first want to become an author.

This collection of poems, edited by Hilda Boswell: I loved it so much as a child that I knew most of the poems by heart...

Favourite book cover to date.

I really like my Italian covers: this one, for RUNEMARKS, is gorgeous.

Image that helped focus your latest book.

I don’t often focus on images, but scents are very important to me. I have a drinks cabinet filled with scents, and every time I start a new book, I choose a scent to match it, and to help me get into character. (My last book is scented with Francis Kurkadjian’s Lumière Noire.)

Favourite reading or writing spot.

My favourite writing spot is my shed in the garden. My husband built it for me some years ago, and it’s my go-to place when I want to be undisturbed.

The bookshelf you return to again and again.

This one: I’ve always been fascinated by folklore, myths and legends.

A booky photo that makes you really smile.

This one, with me and Neil Gaiman avoiding the paparazzi at FantasyCon, and this one of me reading one of my stories to some hens (as part of a promotion by an egg company).

A location that has inspired you.

My garden. I have 5 acres, mostly of woodland, and I love it, especially in spring, when the bluebells are out...

A photo of the people or things that support you.

My husband Kevin, and our daughter Anouchka.

An object that has inspired you.

I wrote The Strawberry Thief around the image of wild strawberries in my garden. I even got a tattoo to match...

The photo that best sums up your author journey.

This is my first author photo...

Your most memorable book event.

Being on the set of CHOCOLAT. 

A photo that sums up your love for the written word.

Stories go much further than the written word. Here I am with the band I’ve been in since I was 16, telling stories to music...

Your favourite reading or writing snacks and beverages.


If you enjoyed this, check out more titles by Joanne Harris. You can also visit the Author Talk section of our blog to find more Author Q&As and 'Putting Authors in the Picture' features.

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