Episode 2

Romantic tropes and transitioning from publishing to writing with Jessica Dettmann

Jessica Dettmann is the author of three novels: How To be Second Best, This Has Been Absolutely Lovely, and Without Further Ado, and a picture book called There’s No Such Book. After a decade working as a book editor for Random House, HarperCollins and freelance, she made the transition to writing after having kids. She was born and raised in Sydney and here she remains, disappointing her fourteen-year-old self, who assumed she would be living in the pensione in Florence from A Room With A View by now.

Our interview begins at  00:19:00

We've got a Substack publication now! On the last day of the month, we share recommendations for two things we reckon you should read/watch/listen to. The beauty of Substack is you can revisit all our old editions and comment on our episode updates to share your thoughts. Come say hi!

Mini book club: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne (The Spinster Club #1)

Evie is 16 and determined to be 'normal', continuing her recovery from OCD and anxiety. But as she starts college and tries to live a 'normal' teenage life, things start to spiral out of control. An enjoyable, although at times emotional, exploration of how mental health is never linear. Plus, it's a rousing feminist manifesto - although we think some of the topics would be discussed slightly differently today than in 2015.

In this interview, we chat about:

  • Why Jessica is obsessed with the 1993 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing and how it sparked the idea for this novel
  • How Willa's love for that movie has shaped her romantic journey and why Jessica wanted to explore that in the novel
  • Exploring large families and their intricacies in fiction
  • Jessica's experience working in the publishing industry and how it felt to transition into being an author
  • How Jessica once sat on the balcony of Sydney Town Hall dressed as a Christmas angel

Books and other things mentioned:

  • How Do You Like Me Now?, Pretending and Girl Friends by Holly Bourne
  • Much Ado About Nothing (1993 film - see the opening scenes here)
  • Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (film)
  • 10 Things I Hate About You (film)
  • Upstart Crow (TV series)
  • Into the Woods (production and film)

Follow Jessica at @jessicadettmannauthor

Without Further Ado is available now.

Please note that we choose podcast guests independently of Caitlin's job at HarperCollins Publishers. Although her job does help put us in touch with authors, we choose our guests based on what we've enjoyed reading and think you'd find interesting.

Connect with us on Instagram: @betterwordspod

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.