I’m pleased to be joined by Justine John today. She is sharing #TenThings she’d like her readers to know about her and talking about her debut novel Gilding the Lily. You can order a copy of the book here: Gilding the Lily
TEN THINGS ABOUT ME YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW
I took a year out of work in 1994 to backpack around the world.
It’s a long time ago now, and I didn’t actually circumference the globe, but I travelled through Africa, Asia and Australasia. I had the time of my life and met so many interesting people. In Africa, I met a witch-doctor who told me he could vomit bees. He invited me into the jungle so he could show me, but I was too scared and declined the offer! Some of my adventures in Africa inspired me to write my second book. I still have some of the ‘magic’ carpets I bought in India, and the didgeridoo I bought in Australia.
I regret never having worked abroad.
There isn’t much I regret about my life, but I wish I taken the opportunity to work in another country. It’s an experience that I hear from others that always makes me envious. I did work for a dressage rider near Eindhoven in Holland for about a month in the 1980s – but the time wasn’t right – I was a teenager, alone and homesickness prevailed, sending my running back home.
I have only been married once and only for fifteen years.
I am fifty-three now and I didn’t meet my husband until my late thirties. I did have a long-term relationship before, but marriage didn’t suit us. My husband has been married more than thirty years – but to three different women!
I have a passion for animals.
If I am watching a film or something on TV where an animal is hurt, I will be much more traumatised than if a person is pained. I first knew about this when I watched The Incredible Journey aged five. I sobbed and gulped all the way through, and don’t get me started on Lassie! I have three horses, two dogs and two donkeys. Trouble is, the animals distract me terribly from my writing – they seem to come before most things, including my husband! Only metaphorically speaking of course! So, when I write, I have to be really dedicated and strict with my time-management.
I have played polo.
I went to school with a girl whose father was a polo player and teacher. They organised for a group of us to take lessons. I loved it and went on to play at the Pony Club Polo Championships, where I scored the winning goal for our team! My polo pony was a rangy Palomino from Argentina called Rocky and the win was more down to his skill than my own.
I have been star-struck
I met my teenage pop idol, Paul Young, in 2007 on a motorbike rally. We were introduced and I found myself speechless after shaking his hand. I was so embarrassed; I turned a nasty shade of pink. He was so nice about it though and put his arm around me for our photo. Afterwards, I could have kicked myself and thought of all the things I could have said that would have led to a fantastic conversation and a lifelong friendship. But I met him again in 2017 not long after I published Gilding The Lily and I gave him a copy and took a photo of him holding it! It was an amazing moment!
I own a classic car
It’s a Clipper Blue MGTC and was made for export to America in 1946. I often take her on the road, mostly during the summer and attend rallies and organised drives. She belonged to my father, who lived in New York, and when he died, we shipped her back to the UK. I wrote a light-hearted poem about her imaginary journey through life, which you can find on my blog. http://www.justinejohn.co.uk/2016/02/an-ode-to-my-fathers-mg-tc/
I hate shopping
All shopping. Clothes. Food. Holidays. Online or high street. The only shopping I like is for my dogs or horses. I love the smell of a saddlery shop and the endless new colours of rugs and saddle cloths. And I’ll browse doggie-treat shelves for extended minutes if I can! But anything for myself – nah! I end up with clothes with holes in, and stuff that is so out of fashion I’m embarrassed to be seen in it. When I find a shop I do like, however, I will overspend massively – and I allow myself to do this because I am compensating for all the times, I could have shopped but didn’t.
I love a good old-fashioned pub
I really enjoy going out to eat, but when the feeling takes hold, I will usually choose a good pub over a posh restaurant these days. Especially if it’s after a long, refreshing walk in the countryside with friends and dogs, and we all pile through the door to the unmistakable aroma of a Sunday roast. Lolling on a soft couch in front of the fire with a good friend and bottle of red wine is a wonderful winter’s treat, or sitting in a summer pub garden, watching the sun go down with a chilled carafe of rose. Bring it on!
I developed vertigo in my late thirties.
After doing bungy jumping, bridge swinging, abseiling and ski-parachuting in my twenties, you’d think that vertigo was a far from my reality as a snowball surviving a fire. Sadly, I only found out during my honeymoon when we a crossing a very flimsy, seriously wobbly and extremely long jungle canopy bridge in Borneo. It swept over me like a wave. My vision blurred, I began to sweat buckets, I felt sick and had the undeniable need to make myself as small as possible was irresistible. I got down on my knees and curled myself into a ball before I fainted. My husband had to coax me up, and only with his help (he had to walk backwards, bless him, while we absolutely maintained eye contact) and two rangers, one in front and one behind, could I continue the journey. So I won’t be crossing any jungle bridges in future!
From the back of the book
A gripping mystery of jealousy, murder and lies.
An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.
Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…
When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…
About the author
After thirty years in corporate life in London, half of which was running a successful events company, I decided to take a chance to write the novel that was ‘in me’ since I was a child. Gilding the Lily is the result of this and is a domestic noir story which I hope will keep you on the edge of your chair/sofa/bed/train/plane-seat….