Jen Campbell is the Sunday Time bestselling author of the ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ series and ‘The Bookshop Book.’ She’s also an award winning poet and short story writer. Her poetry collection ‘The Hungry Ghost Festival’ is published by The Rialto and she runs a youtube channel over at www.youtube.com/jenvcampbell where she discusses all things books.
- You have written and published three non-fiction books (Weird Things Customers Say In Book Shops 1 & 2 and The Bookshop Book). What made you decide to write non-fiction, and are there any non-fiction books which sparked your interest in writing your own?
Writing non-fiction actually happened entirely by (happy) accident. I’d been writing fiction and poetry from a very young age, and was published/had won awards in those areas, when I set up a blog detailing the strange things customers said to me at the bookshop I worked at. The blog went viral, and the book ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ came from that. Then a sequel. Then I decided to balance everything out by writing about the wonderful side of bookselling, too. So as much as I enjoy reading non-fiction, no particular book inspired my own. Rather, life did.
- How much research did The Bookshop book take to write and what was your favourite place to visit during that process?
The Bookshop Book took just over a year, though I’d been discovering wonderful bookshops and booksellers before that. Probably the Bookshop Towns I visited, though there are so many places to choose from. The Bookshop Book looks at over 300 bookshops across six continents, so I didn’t get to visit all of them. One high on my list is El Ateneo in Buenos Aires. It’s beautiful.
- Has being a bookseller changed the way in which you appreciate the books you read? And if so how?
Being part of the publishing industry – from bookselling to being in the publishing house itself – you see all of the work that goes in to a book behind the scenes; the designers, the editors, marketing and publicity team, the rights department… it all only heightens my appreciation of books.
- You recently completed the 100 Poem Challenge in aid of the Book Bus. How did you stay inspired and avoid writer’s block for such an insense task?
- You recommend tonnes of books every week on your YouTube channel but where do you get your own recommendations for new books from?
Other Booktubers, booksellers, bookshop recommendation shelves, sometimes even my own customers.
- Are you currently working on any projects at the moment that you can share with us?
I’ve just finished writing a poetry collection and a children’s book – both of which are out on submission at the moment. Right now, I’m working on a short story collection.
- Who inspired your love of reading and how did they do it?
I speak about how I fell in love with reading in this video here (it’s a long story) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8tDAQ4wgHA
- You have visited a lot of places promoting your work, where was your favourite and why?
Getting to stay over at Shakespeare and Company in Paris in amongst the books was rather magical
- You recently posted a video expressing your love of a poetry collection, The Exhibit. What does it take for a poem to draw you in and what is your all time favourite collection?
That’s like asking what makes you fall in love with a person. You don’t know what it is – but when you know, you know. I don’t think I can pick an all-time favourite collection. I love Crow by Ted Hughes, One Eye’d Leigh by Katharine Kilalea, Folklore by Tim Atkins, Getaway Girl by Terry Ann Thaxton… there are too many to choose from!
- Finally, what are your 2016 bookish resolutions?
I didn’t stick to the ones I made this year (though I’ve read over 100 books so far; some excellent, some not so excellent) – so I’m not going to make any specific ones for next year: just read, read, read. 🙂
I would like to thank Jen for being so kind as to answer these questions, you can check out her YouTube channel by clicking the link in the bio, and you can also check out some of her published works via the links below.
Jen is also a published poet, you can purchased signed copies of her collection The Hungry Ghost Festival here
Again I would like to thank Jen for being so kind as to answer my questions. She is a lovely lady with a fascinating life and more than fascinating book collection which she frequently features on her YouTube channel. Please support her work and visit her blog http://jen-campbell.blogspot.co.uk/ for updates on her upcoming work.