Mirror Works: My CV Lisa Jewell - NOVEL Approach; Writer Lisa Turned over a New Leaf

Article excerpt

Byline: YVONNE SWANN

WHEN Lisa Jewell was made redundant from the job she loved, it was a bitter blow. But a friend gave Lisa hope and the confidence to pursue her real dream of becoming a novelist. Now the author of four Penguin bestsellers - Ralph's Party, Thirtynothing, One-Hit Wonder and Friend Of The Family - Lisa has just had her latest book, Vince And Joy (Penguin, pounds 6.99), published.

Here, the 37-year-old - who lives in North London with her husband Jascha and their daughter Amelie-Mae, two, tells YVONNE SWANN how she was inspired to put pen to paper.

STARTING OUT

I GREW up with my two younger sisters in North London. My late mother was a secretary and my father is a textile agent in the rag trade. I wanted to be a journalist - in my early teens I wrote loads of letters to magazines and had quite a few published. As an older teenager I got side-tracked by boys and drinking.

I went to St Michael's Grammar School and got six O-levels, but after just one day in the sixth-form I thought, "I don't want to be here for another second". So I left and that same day I enrolled on an Art Foundation course at a local college.

I loved it. My recently-discovered confident, loud personality flourished and I dyed my hair. After that I did a Fashion, Promotion and Communication course in Epsom, Surrey.

MY FIRST JOBS

AT 19 I began doing fashion PR at the Warehouse Head Office in their marketing department for five years. Then they promoted me to marketing manager, but I made a right mess of the job and was made redundant.

It was a difficult time. I'd got married at 23 and my husband hated me working late. After I left Warehouse I spent a year unemployed. I applied for loads of different marketing jobs, but nobody took me on.

When my redundancy money ran out, I became a receptionist for Thomas Pink the shirt makers, at their head office in Battersea, South London. That's where I met my future

second husband, Jascha. It was a platonic relationship, I hasten to add, until after my divorce.

I was promoted to PA to the sales director and I loved it. I decided I'd be a professional PA, and was very happy with my life. Then 18 months later, I got made redundant again. I was heartbroken. It was like being dumped by a lover.

HOW I GOT STARTED

A MONTH later, I was on holiday in Gozo with Jascha and a couple of friends, including Yasmin, a journalist from Australia. We were all reading High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.

It was a revelation. It was the first novel I'd ever read which made me think that I, too, could write a book. After my divorce I'd been on a short creative writing course, but this book re-ignited my ambition to write.

We were sitting by the pool and Yasmin said, "What do you really want to do?" I said I wanted to write a book.

She said, "Just do it then. Write three chapters on Jascha's computer, send them off to agents and see what happens. …