• NZ Booklovers

Interview: Jenni Francis talks about The Other Side of the World


Jenni Francis was born in London, England and moved with her family to New Zealand when she was eight years old. Jenni has trained as a teacher, and a teacher of deaf children, as well as completing a degree in education. Jenni Francis began writing seriously about twenty years ago and is constantly surprised where her stories take her. Skiing, beach holidays, school camps and school life are part of the background to her YA novels. Jenni has written six teen novels and has published a book of short stories. She lives on five acres with her husband in Matakana and draws much of her inspiration from the people and places around her. ‘There are stories everywhere’, she says. The Other Side of the World is her first novel aimed at adults. Jenni talks to NZ Booklovers.


Tell us a little about The Other Side of the World.

‘The Other Side of The World’ is a search by a young man to find the truth about his father. When a tragedy strikes, Tom has to put his search aside. However as his children grow, an issue relating to them causes some disquiet. But a road trip in the name of love brings unexpected answers.


What inspired you to write this book?

At the end of the book I have added a blog from my website. It’s all about the amazing coincidences and serendipities that happened over the period of about ten years. When I looked at them as a whole, I realised it was a very good start for a novel.


What research was involved?

Endless! All of my books have required a lot of research. But Mr Google, and Mrs Google Maps usually have the answers I need.


What was your routine or process when writing this book?

The same as all my books. I scribble a very brief outline, head upstairs to my writing computer – (separate from my work computer!) and start typing. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer initially, then I go back and make adjustments. I find I can only write for an hour or so at a time, but when I’m editing I can spend hours going through it.


If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Oh, that is so easy! ‘The Long and Winding Road’ by the Beatles, and ‘Mull of Kintyre’ by Paul McCartney and Wings.


If your book was made into a movie, who would you like to see playing the lead characters?

Jude Law, for Tom. Emilia Clarke for Lucy, and Emma Stone for Jasmine.


What did you enjoy the most about writing The Other Side of the World?

It’s the first adult novel I have written. My other books are YA novels. I wasn’t sure if I could find my ‘voice’ for this novel, but it flowed so easily. It was a pleasure to write.


What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

The end of the first draft coincided with the end of 10 weeks of lockdown with the MIL (mother-in-law). We took her home, then drove ourselves home and opened a bottle of bubbly.


What is the favourite book you have read so far this year?

‘I couldn’t Love you More’ by Esther Freud.


What’s next on the agenda for you?

A book about relationships made difficult by covid lockdowns. A secondary character is based on the MIL!! It will be called ‘Covid 90’. But it’s proving very difficult to write!