Frank speaks to bestselling author Jojo Moyes about the art of letter writing, her love of beekeeping, and the movie adaptation of her bestselling book The Last Letter From Your Lover.
Hi Jojo, how are you?
Jojo Moyes: I’m fine, thanks! Very happy to be out and about and in something that resembles normal life.
Where are you and what are you up to today?
Jojo Moyes: I’m in a hotel, ready for a day of press tomorrow and the premiere of The Last Letter From Your Lover. I’ve got three outfits for our mini-red carpet and I’m trying to work out which works best -and which I can still fit into!
Your book, The Last Letter from Your Lover is now a stunning movie. For those who haven’t read it or seen it, can you give us an outline of the story?
Jojo Moyes: It’s a dual love story crossing fifty years. A reporter at a newspaper whose love life is in a mess finds an old letter in the newspaper archive and is transfixed by the love story within it. She sets out to find out what happened to the couple. Their stories start to intertwine and the two women change each other’s lives.
Have we lost the art of romance in today’s culture of dating apps, Whatsapp, texts, and emojis, where so much communication is misunderstood?
Jojo Moyes: It only really hit me that the love letter wasn’t really a thing anymore when I was writing this. My cousin, who is ten years younger than me, told me that she’d never received one.
I felt really sad for her because I have a box of old love letters in my cupboard, which remind me of past loves and past versions of me. They are part of my romantic history. You’re not going to get that from an email or an aubergine emoji!
Do you still write handwritten letters and how do you foster more personal communication?
Jojo Moyes: When my children were small I started writing them each a letter on their birthday, telling them who they were and how their life was that year. I sealed them and put them in a drawer. By the time my eldest was twelve and I had three children I ran out of time and energy to do it. I’m really sorry about that, because I think the ones I have will be lovely for them to open and read one day.
There is a shift towards embracing and honouring more women in the film industry with the various institutions, such as, BAFTA etc. promoting equality. Do you feel this is industry ‘box ticking’ or are women being rewarded on merit?
I think women have been underrepresented in the film industry for so long that any move towards equality has got to be a good thing. I don’t believe there are many organisations that would give a woman a job if they thought she was not going to be as good as a man; I think that the current situation has just made people aware of the possibility of change.
Outside of work, we know you enjoy life on your farm and have a passion for animals which extends to bees. Did you start bee keeping with the environment in mind and would you recommend it?
Jojo Moyes: I have definitely been worried about the threat to bee health; anything we can do to help can only be a good thing. I love walking the dogs in the morning and watching the hives to see who comes out first in the mornings (one hive is definitely full of early risers!). They are such fascinating creatures but I admit I still get a little nervous when they hurl themselves at my face, even when I have the full suit on. My vegetable garden, next door to the bees, is all organic so I hope they have a lovely time and help my plants to pollinate.
Are you involved in any conservation/sustainability projects on your farm?
Jojo Moyes: I have a field of solar panels, which I know some people feel are ugly, but it feels good to know that we are generating our own electricity – and it makes a huge difference to the bills. It’s amazing how much power they generate in the summer months when the days are long.
What’s your next project and can you tell us about it?
Jojo Moyes: I don’t want to say too much, as I’m always deeply suspicious before I’ve either finished something or before it’s been greenlit, but I will say that I’m working on two television projects and one book, and all contain women of a certain age who are funny, angry, touching and tragic in parts and all contain some degree of romance.
You recently posted on Instagram about your lockdown pastime of art collecting. Where did you find your latest purchases and what are the stories behind them?
Jojo Moyes: I don’t spend huge amounts but both my parents were artists so I like to think I’ve learned what’s good from them. I have a weakness for impressionistic portraits of women. I have a running joke collection I’ve started calling Women Who Have Had Enough Of Your S**t. The expressions of the four ladies I have so far are magnificent.
The Last Letter From Your Lover is available on Netflix now.
Jojo Moyes of The Last Letter from Your Lover
Connect with Jojo here and follow her on Instagram here.