Ask the Author: Jo Withers

What would you like readers to know about you?

Hi, I’m Jo Withers. I write micro, flash, short fiction and poetry from my home in South Australia. In 2017 I won The Story for Children prize run by The Caterpillar Magazine and in April 2018 my debut children’s novel, 5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth, was published.

What is 5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth about for those who haven’t read it?

5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth is a classic battle between good and evil on a grand scale. A young boy, Billy, encounters a tiny incompetent alien and together they set out to save planet  Earth before the dastardly Cleaners sweep us from existence.

What has been your inspiration for writing 5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth?

I had had the idea for 5 Simple Steps in my head for many years and had scribbled down notes but never seriously given writing a try. Three years ago, at a time in my life when I was struggling with grief and family stress, I found that writing gave me a great outlet to process my emotions in a way which I could control. Being able to delve into the realms of fantasy when I felt things were getting on top of me was a great release and I found my mental health benefited. I was proud to see my work accepted for publication in many literary magazines across the world and it has given me the confidence to continue.

What was your favorite scene or part of 5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth to write?

I thoroughly enjoyed writing 5 Simple Steps and I’m in the process of writing the sequel at the moment. In novel two there’s a big reveal scene which I can’t wait to write. I love those parts of the novel writing process where you’ve been layering little clues chapter on chapter and then you get to the climax and you’re writing lightning fast to get those ideas on paper, feeling the reader’s excitement, hearing their hearts thumping in their chests.

What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?

My particular inspiration for writing 5 Simple Steps came from my great love of science fiction. As a child, I adored Blake’s 7, Star Trek and Doctor Who. I was also heavily obsessed with Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. When a reviewer recently compared 5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy it made my day!     

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?

I would encourage all other authors to keep going, enjoy the creative process and don’t give up. Writing can be a hard process at times and all writers see their work rejected at some point but keep going, hold on to your unique voice and you will find your audience.

5 Simple Steps to Saving Planet Earth is available on Amazon and all other online retailers. You can follow Jo on Twitter @JoWithers2018

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