Lisa Jewell tells Graham Norton about her upcoming novel None Of This Is True

Virgin Radio

16 Jul 2023, 16:42

Picture of Graham Norton laughing next to a picture of Lisa Jewell smiling on a video call with Norton.

Lisa Jewell joined The Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose to talk about her new book and her approach to writing.

British author Lisa Jewell first made her way onto our bookshelves in 1999 with her quirky romantic comedy, Ralph’s Party.

Since then, her novels have sold over 10 million copies internationally, and they have focused less on love and more on mystery.

Her latest book None Of This Is True is a psychological thriller about a North-London-based podcaster called Alix Summers, who becomes embroiled with a strange woman after innocently enjoying her 45th birthday.

Speaking to Graham Norton about the book’s characters, Jewell explained: “[Alix is] very glamorous, she lives in this Instagrammable house, she's got these two beautiful little children and a handsome husband who provides very well for her. 

“On the night of her 45th birthday, she goes to her local twinkly gastropub in Queen's Park and crosses paths with this woman called Josie Fair.

“Fair is also celebrating her 45th birthday, but she's a very different proposition to Alix.”

Fixated with Alix, Fair approaches her a few days later and suggests that she would make a good subject for her podcast. 

“Alix is initially quite put off by this approach, she thinks this woman's a bit creepy and a bit weird, [but] also can't resist the temptation of finding out what this woman's story might be, so they start making this podcast," the author continued.

“The reader becomes aware more quickly than Alex in fact, of how peculiar Josie actually is, and so the reader from quite early on in the book is thinking, 'Don't let her into your house. She's a weirdo'. But it takes a while for Alex to realise.”

The number one New York Times bestseller also told Norton about her approach to writing, and said that “every day was a surprise”.

“I write without a plan and I very rarely really understand what the book I'm writing is about until I'm about halfway through," Jewell revealed.

“About halfway through writing this book, I thought, I've spent an awful lot of time planting all these really tiny little seeds of discomfort, unsettling little details about Josie's behaviour and alluding to her strange backstory. 

“So I then retroactively went back and inserted all these clips from a pretend Netflix documentary that was made two years after the events of the recording of the podcast.

“Then the reader knows that even though everything's moving at quite a slow pace in the front story of the book, they know that really shocking things are going to be happening."

She added: “I think [that is] what gives the book its electricity."

Reflecting on how her approach to writing has developed, the 54-year-old admitted: “I spent the first half of my career second guessing myself, overthinking everything, thinking I was doing everything wrong.

“But then about halfway through my career, I just owned it. 

“I just thought like, this is how I write and I've clearly got good instincts because even if I write in the sense of what feels like chaos, the end result is always readable and readers enjoy it.”

None Of This Is True will be available to buy in bookshops from 20th July 2023.

Listen to The Graham Norton Radio Show every Saturday AND Sunday from 9.30am on Virgin Radio or catch up on-demand here.