Penny Joelson ‘I Have No Secrets’ 4th May 2017 Egmont

Tell us a little about the novel

It’s about a girl with severe cerebral palsy who is unable to move or communicate but thinks she knows the identity of a murderer.

Where did the idea/inspiration come from?

I wanted to write a thriller that also had a strong family story and a number of experiences came together to form this idea. I was inspired by work I’ve done in the past with people with severe disabilities and my interest in communication issues – and also by a play put on by Chicken Shed Theatre based on the early life of Paula Rees, who was also in the play along with members of her family. She had no communication until she was ten years old but once able to communicate she wrote poetry and songs that were performed in the theatre.

Where and when do you write?

I am a morning person – I write best in the mornings. A desk in the corner of the bedroom is my ‘study’. I write mainly at home on a PC but occasionally by hand or on a laptop in another location, like the garden in summer or the City Lit library.

What are you working on now?

Another YA thriller for Egmont. I will say no more!

Desert Island Books

(How many can I have?)

  • Here are a few of my recent favourites – a mixture of adult and YA:
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  • The Rosie Project by Don Tillman
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Any books by Anne Cassidy or Cat Clarke
  • And finally one of the books that first inspired me – ‘If You Want to Write’ by Brenda Ueland

Does writing energise or exhaust you?
Depends how well it’s going! On a good day it can be very energising, the words flow, the characters take on a life of their own, things happen that I hadn’t expected but they work. But there are other days – days when I get stuck or I read what I’ve written and feel disheartened. Then I feel very tired. It is strange though, how a few days later I can come back to the same work, reread it and love it all over again and find it easy to continue.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Persevere, keep writing, enjoy it – and your dreams will come true!

What is the first book that made you cry?

I think it was The Railway Children by E Nesbitt

Where can we get your book?

Everywhere (I hope!) – but below are a few suggestions.