Wednesday, November 2, 2016

From Grey's Anatomy to Burning Moon with Wattpad star Jo Watson


I’m thrilled to welcome South African author Jo Watson to Get Lost in a Story. Jo is what’s known as a Wattpad star – a writer whose books are eagerly awaited on what’s probably the world’s biggest online reader platform. Her first book, Burning Moon, achieved over six million reads on Wattpad and was subsequently picked up by Hachette Books. The print edition is hot off the press, and it’s also available as an e-book.

About Jo

Jo Watson is an award-winning writer of romantic comedies.  After graduating with an honors degree in theater, she worked in numerous creative fields. She's mainly worked as a TV script writer and storyliner, she has written, directed and produced theater, adverts and film and has worked as a copywriter. She didn't intend on becoming an author and "accidentally" wrote her first book, Burning Moon, two years ago and posted it on Wattpad. And the rest, as they say, is history.  When Jo is not writing, she's binge watching TV, listening to Depeche Mode and wearing colorful Adidas. She lives in South Africa with her husband and son.

Connect with Jo on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and via her blog. 

There's a very fine line between blushing bride and mascara-streaked sobbing mess. #beenthere 

Lilly Swanson has been planning her perfect life since she was twelve years old: Meet Mr. Right, have the big white wedding, buy a house in the burbs, and raise 2.5 picture-perfect kids. However, when her fiancé bails, leaving Lilly alone at the altar to face five hundred gossipy guests, her dream turns into a nightmare. But then Lilly makes an impulsive decision---she ditches the dress, grabs her passport, and heads off to spend her honeymoon alone. 

Or so she thinks . . . 

Because Lilly quickly learns that everything in the tropics is very hot: the weather, the merchandise, and especially Damien---the sexy, spontaneous man she meets before her feet even hit the sand. Now with no plan, and nothing holding her back, Lilly lets Damien lead her on a wild, unpredictable ride to the world's most exclusive party, Burning Moon. But after a week of letting go, indulging her every impulse and desire, Lilly must go back to the girl she used to be. Or can Damien convince her that their party doesn't have to end?


Read a little, buy the book...

Michael Edwards—fiancé of one year, perfect boyfriend of two—had left me, Lilly Swanson, just ten minutes before I was scheduled to walk down the aisle. The bottle of perfume that he’d wanted me to wear today, insisted I wear, because “it was his favorite,” mocked me from the dressing table. So I picked it up and threw it against the wall, watching it shatter into a million pieces, just like my life. I was hit by the sickly sweet smell of jasmine and felt sick to my stomach.

What was I going to tell the five-hundred guests who were sitting in the church waiting for me? Some had even flown here to South Africa all the way from Australia. 

Hi everyone. Thanks for coming. Guess what? SURPRISE! No wedding!

A wedding that my father had spent a small fortune on.

A wedding that was going to be perfect.

Perfect, dammit. Perfect!

I’d made sure of that. I had painstakingly handled every single tiny detail. It had taken months and months of meticulous planning to create this day, and now what?

Things went very blurry all of a sudden. I vaguely remember my brother James bursting into the room, screaming insults and then vowing to kill him. He even punched the best man when he claimed to have no knowledge of Michael’s whereabouts. My rational, logical father tried to find a legitimate motive for Michael’s behavior, insisting we speak to him before jumping to any rash conclusions. Hundreds of phone calls followed: where was he? Who had seen him? Where did he go?
At some stage the guests were told, and the rumor mill went into full swing…

He’d had an affair.

He’d eloped with someone else.

He was a criminal on the run.

He was gay.

He’d been beamed up by aliens and was being experimented on. (Hopefully it was painful.)

People threw around bad words like bastard, asshole and liar. They also threw around words like shame, sorry and pity. They wondered whether they should take their wedding gifts back, or leave them. What was the correct protocol in a situation like this?

While the world around me was going mad, I felt a strange calm descend. Nothing seemed real anymore, and I began to feel like a voyeur looking at my life from a distance. I didn’t care that I was sitting on the floor in my bra and panties. I didn’t care that my mascara and lipstick were so smudged I looked like Batman’s Joker. I just didn’t care.

Some minutes later my other brother Adam, the doctor, burst in and insisted I drink a Coke and swallow the little white pill he was forcing down my throat. It would calm me, he said.
Shortly after that, my overly dramatic, theater-actress mother rushed in to give the performance of her life. 

“Why, why, why?” She placed her hand across her heart.

“What is this, a madness most discreet? A stench most foul?” She held her head and cried out, “Whyyy?!”

“For heaven’s sake, Ida, this isn’t some Shakespearean bloody play.” I could hear the anger in my father’s voice. Even after 18 years of divorce, they still couldn’t be civil to each other.

“Lest I remind you that all the world is a stage.” My mother shouted back, the deep timbre in her voice quivering for added dramatic tension as she tilted her head upward and clenched her jaw.

“There you go again with your crap! Clearly you still haven’t learned to separate fantasy from reality!”

“Well, I managed to do that with our marriage!”

My brother jumped between them. “Stop it. This isn’t the time!”

And then all pandemonium broke out.

The priest came around to offer some kind of spiritual guidance but exited quickly, and very red-faced, when he saw my state of undress. Some inquisitive relatives stuck their heads through the door, painted with sad, sorry puppy-dog looks, but they, too, left when they saw me spread-eagled on the floor. 

An enormous ruckus ensued when the photographer burst in and started taking photos of me—no one had told him. The ruckus became a total freak show when my favorite cousin Annie, who had designed my dress for free as a wedding gift, saw the state of her “best creation” lying crumpled and torn on the floor. She looked like she was about to cry.

Then everything went very blurry and the noises around me combined into one strange drone.

I closed my eyes and everything went black.

Burning Moon is available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and iBooks.   

Let's Talk... 

AVRIL: Tell us a bit about Wattpad and what it means to be a Wattpad star? 
JO: Publishing on Wattpad was really what kick started my career. Before discovering Wattpad I’d had no intentions of ever writing a book - I was never one of these writers that felt she had a book inside her. But when I stumbled on a writing contest on Wattpad, I had a ‘what the hell, why not?’ moment that has basically changed my life. Wattpad is great for gaining fans and followers, testing out work there and honing your writing skills in a non-judgemental, supportive environment. And I also think it’s great that is it encouraging young people to read more and even try their hands at writing - no matter how good or bad they are.

AVRIL: What was the inspiration for Burning Moon?
JO: Well…some years ago I watched an episode of Grey's Anatomy in which Cristina Yang was left at the altar by Dr. Burke. That scene has always stuck with me because it was such a dramatic moment in which we watch a usually composed individual totally unravel slash go insane! I started to wonder what I would do if that ever happened to me. Would I keep the presents?(or burn them in a sacrificial fire along with that voodoo doll I make of him.) What would I do if I ever saw him again? (maim him of course, but how and where, and how hard?) And what about the luxury honeymoon? (go without him and spend my nights weeping into the fluffy hotel pillows?) And voila... Burning Moon was born out of that line of thinking.

AVRIL: Burning Moon is book one in the Destination Love series – what can readers expect of future books in the series? 
JO: Travel to luscious, exotic, gorgeous locations. Lots and lots of humour, some ridiculous situations that you can probably only get away with in books and movies and * spoiler alert * they do always get together in the end!

AVRIL: What are some of the things that influence your writing? 
JO: Lots and lots of great TV series. I don’t read that much—shocking confession—and to be perfectly honest, prior to writing Burning Moon I had never read a romance novel. TV is my main source of inspiration and influences me heavily. Travel also influences my novels a lot and I like to do it as much as possible.

AVRIL: I know you’ve worked as a scriptwriter – can you give us an idea of how that compares to writing novels?
JO: I wrote for TV for many, many years and still take on some projects even now. TV is about the best and most perfect example of long form storytelling - and a book is exactly that, a long form story. I think movies are very different to books, and personally I hardly ever feel that an 80 minute movie does any book justice. That is why series like Dexter and Game of Thrones work so well. Imagine if they had chosen to turn those into movies and not TV series. So in lots of ways writing for TV and storylining for TV is exactly the same as writing a book - just with less dialogue.

AVRIL: Who are your favourite authors and what is it about their books that draw you in?
JO: Matthew Quick, author of Silver Linings Playbook. I love his quirky, less-than- perfect characters. They are real, not a glossy representation of a people. I like imperfection. I’m not sure yet if I can call her one of my favourite authors, since she’s only written one full-length novel, but I’ve just finished Celests Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and loved it. I felt like a seriously inferior writer after that though! Her characters were very complex and layered. Jeff Lindsey’s Dexter series, they are incredibly well written and Dexter is one of my all time favourite literary characters. I love the fact he is a likable monster. Most people have only watched the movies, but Hannibal by Thomas Harris is great - again, I love the likable psychopath. The character we love to hate, his writing and story telling is also incredible. And then lastly, but not least, Lisa Gardner. Her novels are so dark, and twisty and disturbing that they make for seriously addictive reading. Like watching a car crash unravel in front of you. You know you should look away, but just can’t

AVRIL: What does the rest of 2016 hold for you? 
JO: Who the hell knows! I barely plan my life more than a day in advance. I’m busy tinkering away on some books, two TV series and then the rest of the Destination Love series comes out in 2017. But isn’t 2016 nearly over? Didn’t we all blink in January and suddenly all find ourselves in shops full of Christmas decorations?

AVRIL: As a romance reader, what’s your pet hate? 
JO: Cheesy staring into each other’s eyes, souls crashing and colliding and whispering, skies opening, worlds-tilting and bodies melting together sex. (Having said that, though, this is romance, and we do have to write that to some degree!) Oh, and calling penises things like pulsating rods, throbbing lengths, engorged fleshy swords and other such vomit-inducing euphemisms. And don’t get me started on the moist apex of her thighs! 


A question from Avril: As a Wattpadder myself, I'd love to know if there are any other Wattpad readers or writers out there and if so, what it is that draws you to the platform.

6 comments:

  1. Wow! That was a refreshing interview! Very inspiring—thanks Avril and Jo. And love the throbbing penis euphemisms. HA! Jo is now one of my must-reads.

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  2. Today I hope I too can "accidentally" write a book instead of make a wrong turn or bump into someone - those are my type of accidents! But good on you, Jo. The snippet you wrote immediately pulled me in, so I'll be adding you to my list of authors to follow.

    As for Wattpad, Avril, I must dive in and be more active so thanks for the prodding. The first thing I will do is follow you...if that's what the kids are doing these days.

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    1. I think you will enjoy Wattpad. It always keeps me on track. There's nothing like having readers waiting for the next instalment.

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