Everything Else

U3A talks to Jilly Cooper CBE

Jilly Cooper with a dog

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m writing a novel about football. It’ll be the eleventh book in a series called The Rutshire Chronicles, featuring my glamorous but jolly tricky hero, Rupert Campbell-Black. He is now getting involved in managing a football team, and his short fuse upsets some of his capricious, hugely rich players.

 

U3A has many Creative Writing groups across the country. What tips would you give our budding writers?

Oh Gosh! Use colour as much as possible when you’re writing. “A man riding down a lane on a horse” is a dull line. “A man in a red coat riding down a grassy green lane on a grey horse” is a beautiful one. Also, try and remember the five senses; what things sound like, fell like, taste like, look like, smell like; it’ll always lift your story. If you get stuck, pretend you’re writing a letter to someone, describing your latest chapter. It tends to get one going.

 

Being part of U3A means you take part in different activities. What activities do you do outside writing?

Watching football, travelling around the country interviewing players and managers. I read a huge amount, because I’m a bad sleeper: lots of poetry and the classics and newspapers. I also adore the countryside, and agree with Wordsworth that “Nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” So, I walk my lovely greyhound Bluebell whenever possible, but since I had a hip replacement, I can’t do more than about twenty minutes. I also adore music, mostly classical, and listen a lot to wonderful Radio 3 and Classic FM. Also, I dote on my family and my friends and having jolly drinks and dinners with them.

 

What is the best thing you have read recently?

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young, who is an adorable farmer’s wife, who treats her herd of cows like people and they emerge as wonderful characters.

 

What new thing did you learn most recently?

An exquisite line from Kubla Khan by Coleridge which goes: “And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.” This exactly describes the view across the Cotswold valley from my house.

 

What is the best thing about being in your Third Age?

My lovely family and the truly enchanting people who look after me, who really cherish me. I also adore my black Irish rescued racing greyhound, Bluebell, who is a serious applause junkie but totally captivating, particularly when she hurtles through the long grass at dusk.

 

How seriously do you take research?

I do massive and far too much research into each book. I’ve already spent about a year on the football book and haven’t written a chapter of it. Shaming! I’m having difficulty getting my women characters sorted out but the WAGS are fun. Riders took me fifteen years, my last book Mount! took more than four years.

 

Do you want to join the U3A?

I’m sure being a member of the U3A is huge fun, but I truly don’t have a moment of the day or night to join anything but you clearly have a great time, so good luck to all of you.