Nov 12

A day in the life of Fiona Joseph (Author and Speaker)

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A day in the life of Fiona Joseph (Author and Speaker)1

I wake between 6 and 6.30 AM. My partner Peter brings me an early morning cup of tea and then it’s all systems go: helping our younger daughter get ready for school (Have you had breakfast? Brushed your teeth? Where’s your PE kit? What do you mean you’ve got cookery today?) or waving our elder daughter off to a university lecture. I’m one of those mums who stand waving on the doorstep until my children have disappeared from sight.

8.15 to 12.15 PM

Ideally I’m at my desk for 8 AM. My most productive time for writing is early in the morning.

My office is in a room upstairs at home and I do the majority of my writing on an iMac. I switch between different software depending on what I’m writing: Pages and Storyist for writing prose fiction and non-fiction, and Final Draft for screenwriting. (I’m currently writing a dramatisation of my biography of Beatrice Cadbury and Final Draft is the industry standard.)

A day in the life of Fiona Joseph (Author and Speaker)2

Writing a screenplay for the life of Beatrice Cadbury.

At about 10 AM I’m ready for a break, a cuppa and a catch-up chat with Peter, who works downstairs in the dining room. Sometimes we’ll do our unofficial ‘meeting’ in our local Costa. And then it’s back to our work domains for both of us until lunch.

If I fancy a change of writing scene I go to my local church where I have an arrangement to use one of their meeting rooms. I take a portable word-processing device with me – my AlphaSmart NEO – along with a flask of tea and a blanket to avoid chills.

12.15 – 1.15 PM

Lunchtime is my favourite part of the working day. At about 12.15 PM our dog Bonnie butts her nose against the stair-gate to tell me it’s time for her walk. (She has three walks a day – talk about spoiled) Exercise is vital for both of us. The walk takes about 20-25 minutes, sometimes longer if we stop for a chat with doggy friends and their owners. Bonnie was a rescue dog, and sadly ill-treated, so she needs oodles of love and patience. We live in a leafy suburb of Birmingham but holiday a lot in Weymouth, and this picture shows Bonnie happily at the seaside.

A day in the life of Fiona Joseph (Author and Speaker)3On our walk I daydream, or listen to music or a BAFTA GURU screenwriting podcast on my wireless headphones. Lunch will be quick, such as a sandwich or soup, or in summer months, some sautéed courgettes or roasted beetroot from our allotment.

1.15 to 4 PM

I like to be back at my desk for 1.15 PM. My afternoon can be made up of any of the following activities:

  • more writing or editing
  • working on my website
  • archive research
  • replying to emails, e.g. invitations to speak
  • going out to give a talk to a group
  • speaking on the phone with my biographee, Godric Bader, the subject of my current work-in-progress
  • visiting my local primary school where I’m privileged to be a community governor

Sometimes my research will take me into town to the Library of Birmingham or to the Bournville Archives. For my latest novel, Comforts For The Troops, I wove true facts and details of the Cadbury workplace into the story.

A day in the life of Fiona Joseph (Author and Speaker)4

Visiting the Bournville Archives to research Cadbury women workers.

4 to 7 PM

This period is break-time and family time. Peter or I prepare dinner. I’m very strict on home-cooked food and eating round the dinner table. It’s the time of the day when we can share news, air grievances(!) and generally have a laugh. Mobiles are banned. If one of us has had a particularly noteworthy day I’ll serve dinner on the Plate of Accomplishment. We occasionally play cards afterwards – 10 card rummy, Old Maid and Sevens are old favourites.

7 to 10 PM

Sometimes I’ll be out giving a talk at a local society like the WI, the U3A , a local history group or a book group. It’s very satisfying to talk about the research and themes underlying my Cadbury books and I really enjoy chatting with people over a cup of tea afterwards.

A day in the life of Fiona Joseph (Author and Speaker)5

If I’m at home I’ll flake out with some telly. I’m an ardent fan of Corrie and Holby City and I enjoy a good UK drama, preferably nothing with violence in it though. By 10 o’clock I’m fit to drop, but if necessary I’ll do an hour’s more writing before bed!

Fiona Joseph is the author of the acclaimed biography, ‘BEATRICE The Cadbury Heiress Who Gave Away Her Fortune’, and a novel inspired by women working at Cadbury in World War One, ‘Comforts For The Troops’. For more details visit www.fionajoseph.com