Gritty sagas by Corrie blog editor Glenda Young, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Friday, 9 March 2018

Corrie Writer Jonathan Harvey chats to Coronation Street Blog

Coronation Street writer, playwright and author Jonathan Harvey has a brand-new novel 'The Years She Stole' just released.  You can find out all about the book here.

Conversation Street Blog writer Ryan Oxley had a Friday night phone conversation with the man himself to talk about this new book.

RO - Good evening Jonathan, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Can you tell me a bit about your new novel 'The Years She Stole'

JH - The novel is about two women living in two different decades. In 2017 Rachel gets a call whilst on holiday in Marrakech to say that her mother has died. Rachel then discovers from a newspaper article that she went 'missing' as a child and had a rather tumultuous relationship with her mother.  Told in a dual time frame, Shirley Burke is in 1978 and she sets her eyes on Doug, a stranger on a family holiday in Butlins. It's a novel where the characters lives are unexpectedly intertwined.

RO - Where do you get the inspiration and ideas for your novels?

JH - To be honest, I write a novel a year. 'The Years She Stole' (my 6th novel) was inspired by newspaper articles in the 1970/80s of children that were abducted and then returned to their parents. I've always felt it intriguing. In modern times it rarely happens but back then it was different.

RO - Are there any plans for any of his novels to be turned into plays or TV shows?

JH - No. I use a different part of my brain when writing for either television, a play, or a book. With a book, I am speaking to you directly through my narrative and prose. With television and stage plays, you have actors, directors, stage artists etc whom you are working with collectively, utilising different ideas. It's a different beast altogether!

When writing a book, I begin with 25000 words which are then reviewed by my editor. The editor sends them back edited and abridged, I then write another 25000 words. An editor will input ideas or characterisation to appeal to the mainstream audience.

RO - Are you currently reading any books?

JH -  I've just read 'Say Nothing' by Brad Parks, which I can recommend. Over 500 pages, it's well worth the read.

RO - One of my favourite ever sitcoms growing up was 'Gimme Gimme Gimme', which you created. Did you ever have any plots or characters from the comedy that you took to Coronation Street?

JH -Writing Coronation Street is completely different from 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' which was an adult comedy and rather rudely humoured. Corrie always encourage me to write comedy but its a very different tone!
Late 1990s Comedy 'Gimme Gimme Gimme' which was created by Jonathan Harvey
RO - Which characters in Corrie did/do you love writing for?

JH - I always loved writing for Blanche and Deirdre

RO - Yes! the 'AA meeting' episode was absolute Corrie gold!!

JH - I actually wrote that episode - in 24 hours. A producer required a 'self-contained' episode for the Barlow's (a situation that wouldn't be talked about again), so I devised the AA meeting for the characters. That particular episode was also Number 1 in an ITV 'Top 50 Corrie episodes' TV special. I also love writing for Mary.
The Barlow's at the AA Meeting - written by Jonathan Harvey
RO - If you had to choose one of your many writing paths, which one would it be... e.g. writing for Coronation Street, novels, or playwriting?

JH - I think I would say television plays although I do like to spread myself across wide areas when writing so I'd stick to what I am doing now.

RO - What advice would he give to anyone wanting to start as a TV scriptwriter, wannabe novelist or playwright?

JH - My biggest advice is to write, about anything, and everything. Its a bit hard when you've got a 'day job' but Sue Townsend (superb scouse author of 'Adrian Mole' fame) had four children and she wrote when the kids went to sleep. It's a passion. There are various online platforms too for upcoming writers - they're a great resource.You can also enter writing competitions, I won a few. Also writing for radio is a good idea.

Write about what you know, be inspired by other people and writers. The good thing about writing for television is that execs are always open to new ideas, writers and creative people. Tony Warren was really welcoming when I joined Corrie, although he did tell me that my writing for female characters tended to 'veer down the East Lancs road' as I'm Liverpudlian!

Tony Warren (Centre) with Jonathan Harvey to his right
RO - Talking of Corrie, do you have any current favourite plotlines or characters on the street?

JH -Yes, I'm pleased Moira has returned and I'm enjoying Billy's current turmoil.

RO - Other than your new novel 'The Years She Stole' are you working on anything else at present?

Yes, I've just written a new musical based on the authorised biography of Dusty Springfield. I have just been reading a few of her old faxes she sent to her record label, which is stuck to my office wall. She had a fascinating life. Its rags to riches then rags to riches story of her rollercoaster ride through fame; her sexuality, drug issues, relationships and gorgeous singing voice.

The Years She Stole is released on the 8th of March 2018 and is available to order HERE

Thanks to Jonathan Harvey for a fantastic Friday night chat. They say you shouldn't meet your heroes. I didn't, but we had a great time talking on the phone!. I do hope to review ' The Dusty Springfield Musical' when it arrives at Sheffield's Lyceum in July 2018.


I am @rybazoxo and you can catch my Wednesday 7.30pm episode reviews, every Thursday, on the Coronation Street blog!

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C in Canada said...

That Barlow AA meeting is also one of my top episode favorites!
I was crying I was laughing so hard!

Glenn Meads said...

Brilliant piece Ryan, well done!

Anonymous said...

A good follow-up question would have been to ask JH why he likes the Billy storyline so much. That might have shone light on what we're missing.

Tvor said...

I've read most of JH's books and liked them all quite a bit so I will try to get hold of this one too.


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