MANCHESTER DIARY
Jo is hoping for six of the best

NOVEL: Jo Fenton

FOR author Jo Fenton, her new book Revelation (Darkstroke Publishing) is a chance to show that Jewish people are “normal”.

The book, which is published on Monday, is set in Manchester in 1989 and tells the story of Jewish detective Becky White, a student at a University in Manchester.

Jo hopes it will be the first of a six-book series and it will be launched at a special event at Prestwich Library on Thursday (6.15pm).

Jo, who was born in Hertfordshire, but moved to Manchester 31 year ago, said: “I’d had the idea a few years back, when I was writing my first book, to introduce a female Jewish detective into the world.

“I felt the world was ready for it and that there was a gap.

“I sat down to write it, with a very rough plan — but it changed after the few few chapters.

“The key elements and plot stayed the same, but as I’m writing I find other paths and go with it.

“It was a dynamic process, which I needed to have in place to make sure I didn’t get writer’s block.

“The book is actually a prequel, as it’s set 30 years before the rest of the series.”

Revelation is set largely in Fallowfield, at the university campus, and features many areas that anyone who has been a student in the area would know.

It also features a kabbalistic leader from Higher Broughton — but the character is not based on anyone specific.

“I’ve not mentioned specific place names, because I didn’t want to put off future students,” the 49-year-old said.

“The first page features a young man who is found dead in the halls of residence — that was a strategic decision.

“But anyone who has ever lived in that area would know it pretty easily.”

Jo, who is a clinical operations manager for a health company, said that she “devoured books” from an early age and, aged 11, discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer.

The detective isn’t the only Jewish character in the book, as one of the male leads, Dan, is both Jewish and gay.

She explained: “There was a strong sense of isolation in those days — you had to queue up to contact your loved ones as there was just one phone between 40 students.

“I wanted to break down some of the stereotypes, and see what it was like to be gay and Jewish in 1989.

“The discussion around AIDS was prevelant, and there was a lot of fear around that.

“It’s based on elements taken from gay friends that I have, in terms of some character traits and reconciling Judaism and being gay.

“I wanted to break down different stereotypes, and I also have many non-Jewish readers who I want to stop thinking that Jewish people are different.

“There was a lot of antisemitism at the time, and somethings just don’t change unfortunately.

“I hope I can break down those stereotypes, just by presenting Jewish people as normal.”


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