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11 Quick Questions for Jojo Moyes

Author’s latest novel explores life from others’ perspectives

spinner image jojo moyes smiling, against light pink background
Claudia Janke

New York Times best-selling author Jojo Moyes, 53, has found success with hits such as The Giver of Stars and Me Before You. In her latest book, Someone Else’s Shoes, she tells the story of how an innocent mix-up brings two women together to forge an unlikely alliance. 

Your new novel explores female friendships. Did you draw inspiration from your own relationships?

Oh, completely. The older I get, the more important my girlfriends are to me. They’re the ones who make me laugh, pick me up when I’m on the floor, turn up at 1 in the morning with a bottle of wine and a big hug. I just think there’s a sort of sympathy and shorthand among women that I’m ever more appreciative of.

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Have your friendships been affected by your fame?

Only positively. I mean, most of my close friends I’ve known for many years, my best friend I’ve had since school. But I have to say, it’s enabled me to meet a lot of amazing new friends, some of whom are quite successful. I’ve learnt a lot from them — watching how people create or navigate the world of publicity, how they present themselves. I watch and learn from them.

When you’re not reading or writing, what are some of your favorite pastimes?

My favorite time of day is walking my dogs [mixed-breed rescues]. I’ve just moved back to London after 22 years. My favorite thing, having lived in the middle of nowhere for years [at a farmhouse in Essex], is to be able to buy a coffee and maybe a pastry, and I walk and meet my best friend with her dog early in the morning. We just have a chat for an hour or an hour and a half, and then I start my day. It feels like an immense privilege every day that I do it.

You have a penchant for rescuing animals, including a former racehorse and a mountain dog. Do those rescues ever show up in your writing?

Definitely pets show up in my writing. I don’t think I’ve ever written about a rescue, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens in the future, because they’re such an important part of my life. Having rescue animals has changed me. People say that you rescue them, but actually they rescue you right back. Every step they make towards being less afraid, more relaxed, more happy feels twice as sweet because you know you’ve made their life so much better.

You’re known for writing romantic fiction. Do you consider yourself a romantic?

No. I don’t do Valentine’s Day. My husband used to complain that if he bought me flowers, I would just complain about having to wash up a vase. For me, romance is in the small things. Somebody getting you a coffee in the morning, helping you up the stairs with something, just being kind and present and listening to you instead of disappearing behind a phone. All those things to me are more romantic than jewelry or flowers.

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Do you have a favorite rom-com?

I can never turn down either When Harry Met Sally or Sleepless in Seattle. I’m stuck every time. I have to watch the whole thing.

What actress would you choose to play you in a film?

Well, on a good day, when I’ve scrubbed up really well, I’ve been told that I bear a passing resemblance to Naomi Watts, so that would be the glamorous version of myself. Otherwise, I’d probably be [the] Chucky [doll], out of the horror movies.

Someone Else’s Shoes centers on a mix-up with a pair of shoes. If you could trade places with someone for a day, who would it be and why?

spinner image book cover that says jojo moyes someone else's shoes; city buildings on bottom
Moyes' newest novel is a story of mix-ups, mess-ups and making the most of second chances.
Penguin Random House

I think I’d like to stand in Ginger Rogers’ shoes. I would love to know how it feels to be able to dance like that. I’m an absolutely hopeless dancer, and the way that she would fly around backwards in high heels, what she achieved and that grace. … I’m what you would refer to as a klutz.

You wrote four manuscripts before one was published. What did that teach you about perseverance?

Oh, everything. I say to my kids that my whole career is built on perseverance and resilience, because yes, I got my number four book published, but then I wrote another eight before I troubled the bestseller list. There were many times I thought, I don’t know if I have an audience. I just kept going. That’s the story of my life. 

What’s the best part of seeing some of your novels come to life as movies? [Me Before You was released in 2016 and The Last Letter from Your Lover in 2021.] Conversely, what’s the worst thing?

The best thing is being on set. Being on a Hollywood set when they shout “Action!” is literally the most fun you can have on the planet, as far as I’m concerned. Plus, you get free food. It’s so exciting just watching your characters come to life in front of you. The worst part is never knowing whether something is going to happen. Last Letter took 10 years between it first being optioned and finally getting green-lit. I guess it’s taught me just to be very zen.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?

I’d be a psychotherapist. I’m absolutely fascinated by why people do the things they do and the patterns we get into, the ways we sabotage our own happiness. I’m one of those slightly annoying people who loves to listen to other people’s problems and try to solve them.

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