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Author Interview: Jess Newton Chats about Keep It In The Family

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Get ready to learn more about the book Keep It In The Family in this discussion with sapphic author Jess Newton.

Join us for an exclusive peek behind the scenes as we quiz Jess Newton about Keep It In The Family, writing, reading, and more.

This book is part of the Forbidden Relationship category in the 2024 IHS Reading Challenge.

Why did you write Keep It In The Family?

I originally wrote a short story about these characters meeting at a party when Lisa was in her early 20s, which ended with the two of them running away and living happily ever after. Then I got to thinking what would have happened if they’d met later in life, when the situation was more complicated? The idea stuck with me and ended up being Keep It In The Family.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love Cath! She’s similar to me in that she doesn’t really like rules, she doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes and she needs coffee to function.

What was the biggest challenge writing this book?

I’ve always written sci-fi and fantasy before, so for me the biggest challenge with Keep It In The Family was making everything realistic. It’s a lot harder to fix things without magic!

What part of Keep It In The Family was the most fun to write?

I love writing descriptions of Cath. The scene where Lisa meets her for the first time was so much fun because I was trying to cram in as much sexual tension as possible!

How much research did you need to do for Keep It In The Family?

I wrote it during lockdown which made research a bit tricky as I couldn’t go and visit any of the locations in the book, quite a few of which are real. I had to do a lot of searching on the Internet about the Eiffel Tower, for instance! Also lots of maps of London Zoo.

What is your writing process like?

Pantser all the way! I only ever know what’s happening in any detail a couple of chapters ahead which can be frustrating, but does help with the cause and effect of the plot points.

What’s your favorite writing snack or drink?

Squash, coffee and diet coke. I can’t write without all three, though not usually all at once.

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?


What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing, and by whom?

Just keep writing. If you can’t write a certain bit right now, skip past it and write a bit you can. You can always fill in the blanks later.

If you could be mentored by a famous author (living or not), who would it be?

Terry Pratchett

Have you ever fallen in love with one of your characters?

I definitely fancy Cath, and also both Julius and Elise in my urban fantasy The House of Mages.

What type of books do you enjoy reading the most?

Fantasy, because it’s just such wonderful escapism! I’m also a sucker for a feelgood sapphic romance when the mood strikes.

What books have you read more than once in your life?

Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters. It was the first sapphic book I ever read and I love how it plays with gender, as well as just the sheer joy of seeing sapphic representation for the first time.

Describe your favorite reading spot.

Anywhere soft, like a sofa or a squishy chair I can curl up in. Either that or a sunlounger on a gorgeous sandy beach!

Meet Jess Newton

Jess fell into writing as a teenager, tempted by the dark world of fanfiction, but it wasn’t until they hit their thirties that they started seriously writing original works. They have a tendency towards science fiction, although lately they have broadened their horizons and their first romance novel, Keep It In The Family, published in February 2023. Outside of writing they enjoy theatre, music and dancing, sitting in the garden of a pub and have two children.

Visit Jess’s Website

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