Brought up surrounded by books, at six, Jennifer wrote a take-off of the famous Five, with a time travel element – taking them to the Jurassic period.
When she was studying creative writing in Oxford, Toby Young, a friend of her husband, needed lyrics for a commission.
“My husband said, ‘why don’t you give my wife a try?’ My MA was a crash course in every aspect of writing, from radio to plays, stories, poetry and novels. I gave lyrics a go, we worked well together, and have been collaborating ever since.”
Dividing her time between being a lyricist and librettist and a journalist, Jennifer also writes short stories. Widely published, she won the London Short Story Award in 2011. She’s been picked as an Observer best debut novelist for 2021.
Who is J.R. Thorp?
Date of birth: 1988 in Sydney, Australia.
Education: Kambala, Sydney; University of Sydney, (at 16.) English and Philosophy; Oxford University, MA in Creative Writing; Manchester University, PhD in creative writing and poetry.
Family: Husband Dai. “He teaches at University College Cork as an expert on Medieval Italian culture.”
The Day Job: Librettist and freelance journalist.
In Another Life: “I’d love to be an extremely skilled gardener who could resurrect a garden. I can’t garden but love to read about it.”
Favourite Writers: Michael Ondaatje; Anne Michaels; Anne Carson; Patrick White; Virginia Woolf; Jing Jing Lee.
Second Novel: “I won a Marcovitz Award from the Irish Government for the synopsis of a novel on the refugee crisis – so now I have to finish it! I’m 40,000 words in.”
Top Tip: “If you are asked to do something creative, say ‘yes,’ and learn as you go.”
Website: www.JRThorp.com Twitter: @ThoroughlyThorp.
The Debut: Learwife. Canongate: €16.99. Kindle: €9.00
King Lear is dead – and so are his daughters. But his Queen still lives. Banished to a nunnery some years ago, she is anxious for answers. What happened to her great friend Kent, and what is her fate now? To make peace with her past she must make a terrible choice.
“I love retellings, and researching King Lear, I noticed this hole in the story. I hope the novel will transport people.”
The Verdict: Utterly original, intensely clever and told in vivid language.
Published in the Irish Examiner on 27th November.
© Sue J Leonard. 2021