Jo Skinner

Jo Skinner

Q&A with Author Jo Skinner

What inspired you to be a writer?

I always enjoyed writing and have a trunk full of journals dating back to my childhood. I won a writing competition in primary school and my winning story was included in a time capsule. I loved the thought of something I had written still being read by others long after I was gone. 

Writing is how I express myself. It just feels like my natural creative space. Calling myself a writer only happened much later in my life and was not a single decision but an inevitable step. Once the itch to write became overwhelming, I signed up to do writing courses and started submitting my work to competitions and publications. I still get a little warm feeling when I say it out loud, I am a writer!

What prompted you to write 'The Truth about My Daughter'?

This book has been hovering in my imagination for a long time. A tiny seed that just continued to develop until it outgrew my imagination and demanded to be written down. Although it is fictional, there are elements in the book drawn from my own experience of growing up in a complicated family and I suspect that is why I delayed writing the book for such a long time. I needed to write a few other novels first to get this one right. 

In my work as a GP, I deal with so many dysfunctional and challenging families that it became the book I had to write.

Do you have any more books in the pipeline?

I recently finished the first draft of a more playful book, The Last Supper, about three women, Ilona, Juanita, and Peggy who are approaching eighty and determined not to become frail and dependent on others. When Peggy’s husband Des dies after losing the last ten years of his life to dementia, the three of them decide to live hard for a year doing whatever they want, before spending a final week somewhere beautiful eating delicious food and drinking the best champagne and making a final exit together. Except that things go wrong.

I have had two other novels longlisted with Hawkeye, A World of Silence, and The Family, both of which I am keen to rewrite up to publishable standard. 

What is your professional background?  

I am a GP and was once asked if I am a GP who writes or a writer who is a GP. I honestly cannot answer that question. I am passionate about both and bring the experience of my medical practice to my writing which in turn makes me a better, more compassionate GP. 

Any advice you’d like to give aspiring writers?

When you get a string of rejections, take a deep breath and remind yourself why you write. Creativity is essential to wellbeing.

I have whole files of rejected work and every single one has contributed to the writer I am now. Rejections don’t detract from the tremendous joy I get from writing.

Find a writing group or start one yourself. I founded Brisbane Scribes, and this diverse bunch of ladies are my oxygen, essential to my writing.

Who/what inspires you?

Kathrine Switzer who was the first woman to run a marathon in Boston 1967 and has become an icon for women’s distance running.

Barbara Kingsolver who has written some of my favourite books and not only has a strong social conscience but is a tireless advocate for the environment.

Geraldine Brooks for her gorgeous books but also her fearless journalism. She brings compassion and humanity to every situation.

Julia Baird who gifted us Phosphorescence and writes insightful commentary about social issues, particularly those impacting women. 

What are your hobbies, interests and favourite books?

When I am not writing or working, I enjoy distance running and love attending writing and music festivals.

My favourite genre is contemporary women’s fiction, but I will give most books a go. I love Sandie Docker, Joanna Nell, Kristen Hannah and Karen Viggers.

Back to top