Gladfest interview: Joanna Cannon

Gladfest interview: Joanna Cannon

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In the run-up to Gladfest 2018, we caught up with author Joanna Cannon to discuss her latest book Three Things About Elsie as well as her favourite reading memories and top tips for thriving in the world of publishing!

Gladstone’s Library (GL): Three Things About Elsie covers a lot of important issues, from dementia to treatment of the elderly. What inspired you to write this story?

Joanna Cannon (JC): I think many different things inspire a story – people you meet, conversations, tiny observations – but probably the most important ingredient was working on the wards. I met so many older people, and it was a huge privilege to be involved in their care.

GL:  After working in as rewarding an organisation as the NHS, what has been the most rewarding experience for you as an author so far?

JC: There have been so many, but the emails, Tweets and letters I get really spur me on. People are so kind, and so generous. There is nothing more wonderful than hearing that someone enjoyed your writing.

GL:  As a retreat for writers and researchers, we’d love to know which places inspire you to write.

JC: I walk my dog through the fields each day, and that’s definitely inspirational. I love the silence and the space.

GL: What does your writing space usually look like? Messy? Full of cups of coffee?

JC: I don’t write in one place, I tend to move around the house, so my ‘writing space’ always looks different.

GL: Given that we’re a place for learning, have you read a book recently that’s taught you something new?

JC: I think every book teaches you something. If an author can change your mind about a subject, somewhere between the first page and the last, then they’ve done a very good job.

GL: Here at Gladstone’s Library we try to do everything we can to support readers - what's your favourite reading memory?

JC: Childhood reading, I think. Being swept away by a story, escaping into another world without ever leaving the safety of an armchair.

GL: Do you have any fond memories of libraries? Don’t worry, we won’t be offended if we’re not your favourite!

JC: I wouldn’t have started writing without a childhood spent in my local library. The library scene in Goats and Sheep is definitely autobiographical.

GL: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

JC: Philip Pullman told me to make writing a habit. If Philip Pullman gives you writing advice, it’s wise to take it…

GL: And lastly, do you have any tips for surviving the world of publishing?

JC: Be kind, be supportive, never forget why you first started to write.

By Charlotte Whiting, Graduate Work Experience


Joanna Cannon’s Gladfest talk, Three Things About Elsie, takes place on 9th September 10am - 11am. Tickets are priced at £7 and her new book, Three Things About Elsie will be available to purchase in our bookshop!

Click here to book tickets.