Author Interview: Jodi McAlister

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Jodi McAlister is the author of one of our current book club reads titled ‘Here for the Right Reasons‘.

We have been enjoying this book and we know you will too. One of our members, Malvina says “There are some great twists, so you genuinely wonder where the story is going and how it can possibly end romantically.”

We always like to learn more about our books, and a good way to do this is by chatting to the author. Jodi was kind enough to answer our questions in the following interview:

Tell us a little about yourself…

Hello! I’m Jodi, and I live something of a double life. Sometimes, I’m Jodi McAlister – romance author. Other times, I’m Dr. Jodi McAlister – romance scholar.

Obviously, there are distinct links between these two identities, and they reinforce each other: I don’t think I could be one without the other. I wouldn’t know half of what I do about writing romance without my years of studying it.

Putting that study into practice through writing has taught me new things I never would have found out otherwise. However, as anyone who’s ever worked two jobs will know, it means I’m very busy all the time!

What inspires you?

I found this question surprisingly difficult to answer. You’ve made me quite introspective.

I think the answer, though, is to do with place and space. For all of my books, I’ve conceived of the setting – or, to use the term that Dr. Jodi prefers, storyworld – first.

Once I know what kind of storyworld I’m working in, I can build a story from there. In Here For The Right Reasons, for instance, once I knew I wanted to write a rom-com set on reality TV, everything fell into place quite quickly.

What does your schedule look like when you’re writing?

Generally speaking, I’m quite a routine-based writer. I tend to write early in the mornings, before I start my official work day, and I usually work to a daily word count (you could loosely sum up my routine as “a thousand words before breakfast”).

That was not, however, how I wrote Here For The Right Reasons, the first draft of which I binge-wrote in about three weeks.* This was during Melbourne’s long 2020 lockdown, where time became very strange, which is probably why.

*I spent a lot longer than three weeks editing it. I feel like I need to make that clear.

What does being an author mean to you?

Being an author has been my dream since I understood what books were. Specifically, as a child, I dreamed of walking into a bookstore and seeing a book with my name on the spine.

That feeling – of walking into a bookstore and seeing a book with my name on the spine – has never once gotten old. It’s really something, to have a personal achievement that tangible, one that you can actually hold in your hands.

What books did you grow up reading?

I was, and still am, a voracious reader. As a kid, I tore through anything I could get my hands on, although I had a special love for fantasy. I’ve spoken many times about how formative Isobelle Carmody’s books were for me in particular (I don’t get starstruck easily, but when she launched my second novel Ironheart in 2018, I just about lost my mind).

My romance reading origin story is one that’s common to a lot of romance readers – I pilfered some of my grandma’s Mills & Boons. I can’t tell you how well I understood them, age ten, but considering where I ended up, they certainly had an impact.

If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose?

I don’t know if I can pick just one. There are so many authors I respect and admire that it feels unfair to single one out.

What I can do, though, is tell you about a day I was lucky enough to spend with several popular authors. In my Dr. Jodi life, I’ve been doing some research on popular romance fiction in the Philippines. In late 2019, my research team and I went to Manila and spent a day at FeelsFest, a live reading event hosted by #RomanceClass, a collective of Filipino romance authors.

It was one of my favourite bookish days of all time.

Who is your favourite author?

This is so tricky – again, how do I pick just one?! I have to give a shout-out to Lucy Parker, though, whose books I simply adore.

She’s one of the only authors who has ever made me stay up all night reading.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished In The Weeds by BK Borison, a lovely, gentle rom-com that I adored. Next up for me is Her Fierce Creatures, the final book in the Supernatural Sisters series written by my good friend Maria Lewis.

Where can our readers follow you?

I’m on several different social media platforms. On Twitter, I’m @JodiMcA. On Instagram, I’m @jodimcalister. That’s also my TikTok handle (a platform where I’m very much finding my feet, so I can use all the help I can get!).

What is next for Jodi McAlister?

My next book is called Can I Steal You For A Second?, and it’s out in February 2023. It’s the follow-up to Here For The Right Reasons, and it’s a story about two reality dating show contestants who fall in love with each other instead of the man they’re supposed to be falling for, ie. the star of the show. If you read Here For The Right Reasons, you’ll know exactly which two contestants I’m talking about.

I can’t technically talk about what comes after that yet, but I can extremely pointedly, and while winking meaningfully many times, tell you to watch this space, because I have some exciting news coming soon.

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