I’m delighted to be joined by Jennie Ensor for today’s #TenThings feature. Jennie’s latest novel is Not Having It All, which she describes as a comedy about the perils of mid-life. It was published by Bombshell Books at the end of May. I have a copy which I plan to read over summer at some point so watch out for a review in the next couple of months.
- I live in London with my husband and our affectionate but incorrigible (especially during walks) Airedale terrier. Some of the incidents in my latest book were nicked from/inspired by events in the lives of family and friends (naming no names). Although I will admit that our last dog Barney inspired the canine character Big Ears, who features in several embarrassing incidents.
- My reading tastes are diverse and I nearly always have at least three books on the go. What I’m currently reading: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan (Audible), Bitter Leaves by Tabatha Stirling (paperback); Sister, Psychopath by Maggie James and The Paramedic’s Daughter by Tara Lyons (both Kindle).
- My latest book Not Having It All is a no-holds-barred comedy about a woman torn between the demands of family and career. Alongside the humour there’s much drama and emotion – the novel deals with some dark aspects of the psyche, such as obsessive jealousy and the coveting of another woman’s child. The story is told through the journal entries, emails and letters of a group of interconnected characters but the focus is on Bea Hudson, a scientist mum pulled towards breaking point by the incompatible demands of her family and career. (The structure has similarities to that of Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple.)
- On a hot summer’s afternoon there’s nothing I like better than sitting in the garden with a book. Even better, lying beside a pool with a book. I’m hoping I can tear myself away from the garden, pools and my trusty Kindle long enough to make a start on novel 4 this summer. (Once I get going on one, I can easily spend all day writing – getting started is the hard part!) Perhaps I will investigate some cafés and lidos for research purposes.
- What I loved most about writing NHIA was letting my characters run amok; they say and do exactly as they want, however unreasonably. While she’s actually at work, Bea pretends to husband Kurt (who’s away on business) that she’s at home looking after Fran, their difficult 4-year-old. Kurt, afraid his wife and daughter are being unduly influenced by Bea’s friend Maddie, spies on his wife. ‘Found object’ artist Maddie adores Fran and is desperate to have a child of her own, but doesn’t tell Bea… And Katie, the Hudsons’ childminder, does her best to cope with Fran and equally badly-behaved family dog Big Ears, helped by confiding in her journal and sampling Bea’s stash of Triple Sec. (One day, driven beyond her limits, Katie bakes Big Ears a turd-shaped cake.)
- I’ve been getting into yoga, partly to help switch off and relax, which I’m not the best at. I particularly enjoy Ashtanga, the strenuous version. It’s a great workout as well as giving one a deep sensation of wellbeing (once the challenging part is over).
- My research for Not Having It All began with a booklet about high achieving scientist mothers, titled ‘Having It All’. I spoke to many women about how they coped with both their children and a demanding research job, which provided much material for the novel. While visiting a university to watch people’s brains being scanned for an experiment I had decided to make Bea a researcher of phobias.
- Like Bea, I’m interested in science. At university in my early 20s while studying for a physics degree, I seriously considered a career in research, or astronomy. Now, I’m more interested in how the brain works.
- My favourite show on TV is After Life starring Ricky Gervais – I didn’t used to find him funny but have been forced to change my mind by his reincarnation as a bereaved bloke with anger issues after the death of his wife from cancer. I love the writing, the acting and how there are no taboo topics – death, dying, dementia, sex, heroin use… It’s all in there.
- Like Bea’s volunteers I hate spiders, though I wouldn’t say it amounts to a phobia. (Just don’t put me near any huge, hairy-bellied, stripy-legged Costa Rican tarantulas!)
More about Jennie
A Londoner with Irish heritage, Jennie Ensor began her writing career as a journalist, winning two student awards and covering topics from forced marriages to mining accidents. She’s tackled controversial issues in her novels, too – terrorism, gangsters and war crimes in her debut Blind Side (Unbound, 2016); child abuse and sexual exploitation in her second novel THE GIRL IN HIS EYES, a psychological family drama (Bloodhound Books, 2018).
Her third novel, NOT HAVING IT ALL: a brazen comedy about the perils of midlife, published by Bombshell Books on 28th May 2019, is a no-holds-barred family-life comedy about a woman torn between the incompatible demands of her family and her science career.
Jennie Ensor’s poetry has appeared in many publications, e.g. Ink Sweat and Tears. In her spare time, she sings in a choir and dreams of setting off on a long trip with her Kindle.
Author website & blog: https://jennieensor.com
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JennieEnsorAuthor
Amazon author page: Jennie-Ensor
Buying links for NOT HAVING IT ALL
Amazon GB: https://buff.ly/2HHCfZt