Jo Spain: ‘Sometimes I worry I’m not worrying enough’

Lessons Learned: ‘When I decided to write my first book, I thought people would think I was daft but a good friend said to me “why not you?”’

Jo Spain’s latest book is Six Wicked Reasons

Jo Spain’s latest book is Six Wicked Reasons

 

What’s the biggest challenge you have ever faced?

Getting to college. I grew up in an area where expectations weren’t high. While I was smart, and I was lucky enough to have good teachers who encouraged me, it would have been easier to go straight from school to work, or even to become dependent on the system. It was almost an act of rebellion to go to Trinity. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

When I decided to write my first book, I thought people would think I was daft but a very good friend said to me “why not you?” And then told me every person on the bookshelves was just a normal person like me. It gave me the courage to try it. 

And the worst?

That I didn’t need a TV agent. Don’t ever sign contracts without agents. 

What moment changed your life?

I could say getting a book deal or writing a TV show but, really, it was having my first child and realising what it meant to truly put somebody before myself. It changed my perspectives on everything and everyone. 

Who do you most admire?

There are many in my family and especially my husband but outside of them, Vicky Phelan. I’ve gotten to know her well over the last year and I’m not sure I’ve ever met anybody braver or kinder.

What’s the most pain you’ve ever experienced?

I’ve had a few painful times. My father died in a house fire when I was 16 and my step-dad died after a very short, intense cancer battle on the same day I gave birth to one of my children. Both of their deaths brought me to a halt, but oddly, the most painful moment that stands out was actually a miscarriage, years ago. I was quite a way along and when they couldn’t find a heartbeat, it was a shock. They couldn’t do the D&C straight away and I had to carry the baby for a few more days. Then after, I had to be checked for a rare form of cancer for six months. It was a really difficult time.  

Who or what is the biggest influence on your career?

My husband. He’s a former editor and he’s really helped me hone my writing skills. 

What practical thing do you do to to help your personal development?

Running. I need the headspace and alone time just to rebalance.

What location do you return to for a sense of calm and time out? 

Home. And home is wherever my family is. I just need to be with them to feel calm.  

What’s your biggest flaw?

Worrying. I never stop. Sometimes I worry I’m not worrying enough. 

What would your friends say your most dominant trait is?

Determination. Anybody who’s seen me on a To Hell and Back knows the truth in that. 

Do you have an unfulfilled goal you don’t tell anyone about? 

To play the piano. I’ve been teaching myself for a couple of years and I’ve a good ear and can pick up pieces easily but I really want to get proper lessons. My dad was a musician and wanted me to follow in his footsteps but I never made enough time for it.

What are you most proud of?

Everything I’ve achieved. I’ve four children, a happy marriage, good friendships, international bestselling books and TV shows. Not bad for 40.

What’s your life motto?

Why not you?   

Jo Spain’s latest book, Six Wicked Reasons is published by Quercus

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