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Joe's gorgeously written new novel 'When The Music Stops', a story about two people whose lives intertwine so fiercely yet fleetingly, was published today and we had the pleasure of asking him a few questions that we thought of whilst reading it.

Click here to see our reviews.


This is the story of Ella. And Robert.And of all the things they should have said, but never did. Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…


Did personal experiences with the themes of “fate” and “chance” influence your use of them in this story?

I think about chance a lot - the way one decision follows another in ways we can’t predict. For instance, me and my partner have been together for eight years, have two beautiful boys and a cat - but none of this would be happening if a friend hadn’t recommended I apply to work at the same place as her, doing subtitles for BBC News. Alice took me on a walk to the corner shop to buy a white chocolate Magnum and the rest is history. Sometimes it’s impossible not to wonder about all the paths we didn’t take, for better or worse - and that’s a big part of Ella’s mindset at the start of the book. 


When did you know you wanted to use dual timelines to tell Ella and Roberts story?

To begin with, the book was set entirely in the present, with Ella experiencing a crisis and responding to it. My idea was that we would get to know her past as we went along. But slowly, the “past” sections grew in importance and took on a life of their own. I think it’s important to go along with it, when your book decides to be something different to what you imagined. 


What is your relationship with music like?

I come from a musical family - my grandad is a jazz musician and wrote the original tunes which you’ll find in the book - but I don’t play an instrument (except for strumming on a ukulele). So I love music, but I feel a little jealous of those who can really play. The book is a bit of a love letter - and an attempt to live the life of those people vicariously. 


Do you have any unique quirks when it comes to your creative process? What does that process look like for you?

Not unique I’m sure, but I write entirely on my phone. This frees me up to write anywhere and anytime. The majority of When The Music Stops was (appropriately) written on a friend’s boat, but some of it was written in the bath, on trains into town or sitting in a child’s bedroom, waiting for them to go to sleep. 

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for sending as an advanced review copy of this book to us.

You can find more information about the book and where to buy it here.

Or visit Joe's website to see his other published works.



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