Friday, 7 October 2016

UNCOVERED INTERVIEWS: Penelope Jacobs

Playing FTSE is the new novel by Penelope Jacobs, in which a young graduate navigates work and relationships in her new life in the City. Penelope has stopped by for this week's Q&A to discuss her novel, her heroine Melanie and some useful writing advice...

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Ambition, friendship and sex. A brilliant but deeply-flawed woman makes it in the City.

What inspired you to write Playing FTSE?
I met many of my female friends during my early years in the City. The work was demanding, but we always had fun on weekends discussing our romantic lives. In such a male-dominated environment, there were endless amusing anecdotes about our male colleagues and office affairs. I wanted to capture the atmosphere of the City in my twenties. Although we worked under a great deal of pressure, we also enjoyed high-octane fun. My novel is fictional, but it is inspired by many true events.

Where do you do most of your writing?
I squeeze in my writing whenever I can. Mostly I work from home, in between school runs. This tends to be in short bursts during the morning and early afternoon. I hardly ever write in the evening, as I find it impossible to concentrate at night time. The school holidays are a write-off, as my children don’t understand the concept of space!

What is your favourite book?
My all-time favourite novel is “Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A brilliant author, I only wish I could read it in his native language Spanish. The book delves into the madness of enduring love and the depths to which a person can fall. It is a story of delusion, despair and optimism, which manages also to be highly entertaining. If you have ever suffered unrequited love, this is a poignant novel to read.  

Which part of  Playing FTSE did you enjoy writing the most?
I wanted to create a flawed character, who is both a victim and a villain. It was an exciting challenge to mould this brilliant but romantically idiotic woman.  The dialogue with her best friend was fun to write and helped explain her dilemmas, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the prose, where I was able to immerse myself more fully into her inner thoughts.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
I have just finished reading two books by Elena Ferrante. My Brilliant Friend and The Story of a New Name. The novels follow the lives of two young girls in Naples, through the eyes of Lena. A fascinating study of friendship, rivalry and love. I was gripped by the dynamic of their complex relationship and I can’t wait to read the next two books in the series.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
Remember that your friends and family are not the best critics. The most helpful feedback I received was from an entirely independent editor. Her comments were hard-hitting but definitely forced me into making some significant changes to the storyline.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
I am working on the sequel to Playing FTSE. My heroine is now in her thirties and has to face a series of new challenges in her romantic life and working career.

Thanks, Penelope!

You can find out more about Penelope Jacobs on her website, or by following her on Twitter.

Playing FTSE by Penelope Jacobs

When Melanie Collins joins an investment bank as a young graduate, she quickly discovers that femininity is an invaluable asset. But it must not be abused. She witnesses other women falling victim to office affairs and is determined to be taken seriously. In an industry where abilities are rewarded handsomely, she rises rapidly through the ranks. But her increased profile attracts the attention of a senior colleague and she is ill equipped to handle his advances. Balancing a demanding job with a confusing personal life proves difficult and soon their relationship threatens to jeopardise her career. As events move beyond control, her glamorous world becomes tainted by betrayal and bitterness. Set against London's financial markets, 'Playing FTSE' explores the dynamic of ambition, friendship and love in the City. A woman can reach the top, but at what price?

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