People start a business after reading my books

Jenny Colgan is a writer whose first book I read until half past five in the morning.
Seven of her novels have been translated in our language and she has written over 40.
Her books encourage me to be brave in my ideas, to have dreams and to create.
When I contacted Jenny to do an interview, I didn’t believe she would agree, and when I saw that she did – hm, I hope my colleagues will never reveal to you how thrilled I was with the joy (in joy we sometimes look very silly)!

Jenny Colgan was born in Scotland and is eight years older than me.
She lives in London and Paris.
She worked in the health service, she was a journalist, a comedian and I think that due to her rich experience, her books are very imaginative, and the main characters in the novels are brave.
She writes books in the cafe she goes to every day.
She writes 2,500 words every day (it was interesting to me as a writer).
Her novels are full of interesting recipes that she has tried.
She and her husband have two sons and a daughter.

This was all short, and I am passing on the interview we did to my readers.

Private archive of Jenny Colgan

“You find good and bad everywhere and it makes life incredibly interesting I think.”

  • Jenny, what I notice in your books is that you make your readers stronger and braver to start their own business and be bolder in their desires and ideas. I read your novel “Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe” until half past five in the morning. Are you aware that your writing gives a boost to women; do they write it to you and acknowledge it in their letters because in a way you heal a woman’s spirit with your writing?
    That’s amazing! Thank you! Yes, every so often someone starts their own business after reading my books and I am always amazed and so impressed by their courage and love to see their pictures- there’s a cupcake cafe in the next village along from mine, it’s amazing.
  • Do you encourage with your book yourself to be stronger and braver in creativity?
    I don’t know, I just write whatever takes my fancy really. So sometimes about baking and cafes and sometimes science fiction and sometimes for children. I am very lucky I have a lot of freedom to write.
  • You were born in Scotland, you’ve lived in London and Paris. I get the impression that wherever you are, you take the best from that city and include it in your novels. Does that mean that your advice is – use the place where you are, even though we may not like that place in all situations?
    I think almost everywhere is interesting, and I have loved living in different countries- we also lived in the Netherlands. You find good and bad everywhere and it makes life incredibly interesting I think.

“I like people who get obsessive about things.”

Jenny with her husband, private archive of Jenny Colgan
  • I have read all six of your novels available on the market in the country where I live, Montenegro (ex republic of Yugoslavia). I have been thinking when you write about people’s commitment to their work, for example about a sentence where you write that there are people who care that cake butter and icing must be from happy cows, from happy fields and lush green grass (from your novel “Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe”). Do such people really exist or is it a beautiful idea of a writer?
    Hahaha yes I absolutely believe such people exist, who are very very committed to using only the best ingredients and only the very purest things. There is a lovely restaurant here in Edinburgh which only serves food grown or found within a five mile radius of the site, I think that’s a lovely idea. I like people who get obsessive about things.
  • I think the ambience in which you create is important to you- if you are in a happy period, I believe that the end result is great. Is it important for you as a writer that readers enjoy reading books from writers who have written in beautiful conditions and emotions?
    No I disagree, it shouldn’t matter what kind of mood I’m in. Sometimes when I have had difficult periods in my life- for example when my mother was very unwell, it has been wonderful to be able to escape into my own world for work and has really helped me. I wrote a lot during the pandemic because I could create my own stories and not worry too much about the terrible news.
  • What is the environment in which you grew up, because everything in your books is filled with flavours and beautiful smells? Did you spend your childhood in such an environment and now you pass it on to your children and family?
    I grew up in a small town on the west coast of Scotland that you would not have heard of but I was a very bookish child and stayed inside all the time! I just loved to read.

“Everything gets better with practice.”

Private archive of Jenny Colgan
  • You write with ease. I’ve counted that you’ve published 46 books, but it is possible that I’m wrong. Is that ease of writing something we learn?
    I think like anything else writing is practice. You just plan how many words you write a day- you can start at 500, which is not very much, then build up. If you add 100 words a day you will soon find that 1000 words is not difficult, then just keep adding to it. Everything gets better with practice. I am always saying this to my children. Even though it is boring it is true!
  • Do you question yourself: will this novel be read? Or simply, when you finish writing, you know that you have satisfied your urge to create and that is quite enough to be happy? I am asking you this because I am constantly questioning myself and I don’t like it too much.
    There is no point in thinking like that. Of course you want people to read your book, but once it’s finished it’s out of your hands and belongs to the publishers and the readers. But it is always so so lovely to hear from readers who enjoy what you do, it really makes everything so great.
  • And lastly, give me some advice – should we always write when we want to, even though maybe not everyone will like the book?
    Of course. That’s the only way. Who cares? Write a book you love and a book YOU want to read. Don’t even think about anyone else. You should absolutely love your own books. It definitely increases the chances that someone else will love them too.

The interview was done by Jelena Petrović
Translator assistant:  Duška Vučeljić
May 2021