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Joanne Harris

answers the Usual Questions

Author Joanne Harris studied Modern and Mediaeval Languages at Cambridge and was a teacher for fifteen years.

She plays bass in the band she first joined when she was 16. As for her hobbies, her web site quotes Who's Who: "mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion of the system".

photograph, Joanne Harris by Jennifer Robertson, Kyte Photography; 220x177

Joanne Harris (photo Jennifer Robertson, Kyte Photography)

Has your interaction with fans, for example, at conventions, affected your work?

I enjoy interaction with readers and fans, both online (on Twitter and tumblr) and at festivals and conventions, but I find them so diverse, each one with their individual take on the books (as well as their personal favourites) that I make a point of leaving them all behind whenever I'm working on a book. I can't please everyone at once, or address each individual's requests and expectations. All I can do is try to be as honest as I can, and hope that it's enough.

Is there any particular incident (a letter, a meeting, a comment that stands out?

More than I can put into writing. Books resonate with readers on so many different levels that it's practically impossible to know what's going to chime with them or not. People have written to say that my books remind them of loved ones long dead; or have opened chocolate shops in response, named their children after my characters, or sent proposals of marriage, or presents, cards and artwork. Some of the artwork, especially, is remarkable. Everyone's reaction is different, and I try to respond to as many of my fans as I can...

Do you have a favourite author or book (or writer or film or series) that has influenced you or that you return to?

Ray Bradbury's work has always inspired me, especially his short stories. I come to them again and again, and I'm always astonished at his enthusiasm for life, his capacity for joy, and at the richness and lyricism of his language.

Who is the person you would most like to be trapped in a lift with? or a spaceship?

Jules Verne; one of my literary heroes, who understands space (both inner and outer) very well indeed...

Who is the person you would most DISlike to be trapped in a lift with? Or a spaceship?

The vapid and tremulous Bella from the Twilight books (although she might end up in the cooking-pot when the food ran out).

book cover, Chocolat, by Joanne Harris; 140x219

What would you pack for space? (Is there a food, beverage, book, teddy bear, etc that you couldn't do without?)

Ray Bradbury's S Is For Space; a generous supply of Patak's Hot Lime Pickle (those space rations can be pretty bland, especially if I have to eat Bella) and the newest version of Guitar Hero (because in space, no-one can hear you rock).

What is the most important thing you would like to get/achieve from your work?

Joy. What else is there?

What is the special satisfaction of your work?

The voodoo of the story; the knowledge that if you get it right, someone, somewhere will laugh; cry; dream; hope; see; taste; smell; believe - and all because of some funny little lines and squiggles on a printed page.

submitted by Joanne Harris

20 August 2014

For other answers to The Usual Questions Click here

Just the facts:
Born: Barnsley in 1964
Resides: a little wood in Yorkshire.
See her web site

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