Jo Gatford: Writer & Litro Alumna

Jo Gatford

After joining a flash fiction forum in 2011, Jo Gatford had several of her short stories published, including “Dead Leg” in Litro. Since then she has begun a novel and a screenplay, and become a mum again.

What have you been up to since your publication in Litro?

At the beginning of 2011 I joined an online flash fiction forum called “Show Me Your Lits”, which runs a weekly short story challenge. Suddenly finding myself with a computer full of new stories, and with the support of a great community of writers, I began sending out my work to literary magazines while I edited my second novel. Along with getting “Dead Leg” printed in Litro #104: History, I managed to find homes for eight other stories this year, and finally finished edits and rewrites of my book. Since then I’ve started querying agents and begun a new novel and a screenplay, as well as having a brand new baby who is managing to monopolise most of my writing time so far. I’m hoping for more publications and an agent in 2012. And perhaps a little more sleep.

What is your earliest childhood memory?
Being terrified of a pantomime pirate and shouting at him to leave the good guys alone. An early precursor for not being able to distinguish between fiction and reality, perhaps?

What makes you happy?
Uninterrupted sleep. But seeing as I don’t get much of that, I suppose I should say my wonderful (non-sleeping) children. Also: sushi.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
Around the age of 10, I spent my days badgering my teacher to scrap the syllabus of maths and science and other unnecessary things so that we could work on our creative writing instead. That year’s project was a story about a migrating bird, and I remember begin extremely excited by the thesaurus, and using the word ‘ailment’ instead of ‘illness’.

What are you reading at the moment?
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan.

What advice would you give to a first time writer?
Your ‘finished’ novel is not finished. You’re going to have to write about four more drafts, possibly re-write the entire thing, then spend months researching how to write a synopsis and query, stalk a few agents and then consider giving it all up before you get to a point where you have a finished product, ready to shop. Oh, and don’t believe your friends and family when they tell you that it’s awesome and they wouldn’t change a thing.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
America’s Next Top Model. Compulsive horror.

How do you relax?
How else? With a book.

What is your favourite book?
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.

Which author is underrated or deserves to be better-known?
Joseph Heller. His talents didn’t end with Catch 22. Good as Gold and Something Happened are incredible in completely different ways.

What’s the worst job you’ve had?
Cleaning up the black water and goo from underneath industrial fridges in a sandwich shop.

What is the most important thing life has taught you?
You have very little control over anything or anyone. Better just to take a moment and watch to see how things are going to pan out.

What’s next?
I gave birth to my second son a few months ago, so mostly I’m either being milked like a cow or making up lyrics to Edelweiss and walking up and down the hall jiggling a small insomniac. Writing-wise, I’m currently shopping my finished (ahem) novel along with various short stories, and working on a TV screenplay and a slightly ridiculous re-write of Noah’s Ark.

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