My second interview is with screenwriter Jo Ho, who is also author of Wanted and The Boy Next Door.
Q: When and where were you born?
A: In Dagenham, UK.
Q: Who was your most influential person to you as a child and why?
A: My mom as she was the one I spent most of my time with.
Q: Do you recall any interesting stories related to you by any of your elder relatives that you have never forgotten and you think are worth telling this audience?
A: My grandmother and I had this routine in Hong Kong, when I would visit her. We’d sit in her balcony on the fifth floor and shell peanuts, while she told me ghost stories. There were usually stories about her coming up against ghosts! I was terrified but also entralled by them.
Grade School/High School
Q: How would you describe yourself as a student, both academically and socially?
A: I was in the top class, though I was more known for my artistic abilities – I excelled in art and drama. I also won a trophy for being the most hard-working pupil in the school! Socially, i had a group of friends but I wasn’t super popular or anything. I was pretty overweight as a kid so I was bullied often for it.
Q: What would people you know find surprising about you as a teen?
A: Probably that I went through a lot of adversary back then.
Q: What does the word “family” mean to you?
A: People who love and support you and always have your back.
Q: In what ways have your parents influenced you the most?
A: I’ve seen how tough their lives were, so it made me determined to make a success of myself.
Q: Who was your biggest influence in your career?
A: Oprah Winfrey, lol!
Q: In addition to being paid money, how else has your career created value in your life?
A: To know that I have created these stories, and that they are being loved by others, that value and recognition is invaluable.
Q: What sort of stories excite you?
A: Ones where the main character goes through hardship but comes out on the other side having grown as a person. Female driven stories. Obviously, I love genre material.
Q: Was there a specific moment that made you start writing screenplays?
A: Yes, I was reading all these terrible screenplays that were getting made, and I just thought to myself, surely I can do better than this?
Q: What is the most difficult and the most enjoyable thing about screenwriting?
A: Most difficult thing is that screenwriting is HARD. Much harder than novel writing. It’s incredibly structure based. Screenplays typically need to be between 90 – 120 pages long, and there are basic structures you need to adhere to. For example, on or around page 10, you need to have the inciting incident. Page 30 would be end of act 1. Then there is the fact that you can only write what the viewer can SEE, so no internal dialogue of your characters, no description of what they feel. You must convey all of that by what the viewer can see, and you must use the minimum amount of words to do so. It’s an incredibly disciplined area of writing and it isn’t for everyone.
Q: What is your writing Kryptonite?
A: Not enough sleep, haha. Seriously, I need at least seven hours to focus.
Q: Was there a specific moment that made you start writing your first novel Wanted?
A: I just came up with the idea and it was during some downtime in-between screenwriting projects. I was getting frustrated with how long my film projects were taking to make it to screen, so decided that I would start writing books too, and self publish. At least then, I would have control in one area of my career.
Q: How did writing your first book change your process of writing?
A: My process is mostly the same, although instead of keeping a daily page count, I now have a daily word count when I’m writing books.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A: I actually don’t find guys harder to write than girls, but that might be because I spend most nights playing video games with a group of guys, lol. I think when you spend a lot of time with them, their voices and personalities get a lot easier to write.
Q: What was your hardest scene to write?
A: In Wanted? Any scene that had sciencecy stuff, lol! Oh, and the operation scene as I had to do a ton of research for those.
Q: Do you believe in writer’s block?
A: I believe we all get stuck, however, I either talk it out with someone, or I jump onto a different project. I never sit there for days mulling over the problem simply as I don’t have the luxury of time, juggling as much as I do.
Thank you so much, Jo Ho, I really appreciate being able to interview you!
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