Jo Hammond
Jo Hammond

Biography and history.
Born in 1953 in London but brought up in West Africa and educated in boarding school, Josephine Hammond went on to University College London where she graduated with a degree in French and Italian. After working briefly in France she settled into married life in England and had four sons, three of whom are triplets. She taught languages for many years then, after moving to Pembrokeshire, escaped into her own business selling hampers of local produce by mail order as well as taking an MA in Creative Writing at Trinity College Carmarthen.

She has published three books, Battle in Iraq, about World War 1 and the part played by her grandfather, Adelina Patti, Queen of Song, and most recently Wilderness & Paradise about women explorers of the Arabian desert. She is a regular speaker at the Tenby Arts Festival giving talks on a range of different artists the latest one being about Joséphine Baker and has given talks to Creative Writing groups, WWDFAS and the King George Fund for Sailors.

Battle in Iraq
The moving and unusual story of a British engineer who becomes caught up in the horrifying events of the First World War vividly illuminates life - and death - on the Mesopotamian Front. At the outbreak of War, William Reed had recently arrived in the region to work as a marine engineer. By the time fighting ceased in 1918, not only his own life but the whole course of the history of the Middle East had been transformed. In this gripping history of Iraq during the First World War, Josephine Hammond skilfully weaves together her grandfather s diaries, placing his personal adventures against the backdrop of the unfolding drama of war. Battle in Iraq offers an invaluable record of events in Iraq during the First World War as well as sensitively drawing out the unavoidable parallels with the contemporary conflict and the long-term consequences of international interference in the region.

Adelina Patti, Queen of Song
This is the story of the highest paid singer ever, a superstar long before the term was invented, who tried to buy a child and who married three times; the last husband being what we would call a toy boy. Yet she made her home in a secluded castle in Wales.

Wilderness & Paradise
A flying carpet ride through the deserts of Arabia and North Africa with the passionate and eccentric women explorers of the last two hundred years. Driven by grief and lost love, they fled the stifling society of their day to find fulfilment and fame in the sands of the Orient. Their books and journals have influenced Western attitudes and politics in regard to this volatile region.

Iraq  Adelina Patti  Paradise

Questions for Jo
1.  Are you working on another book?
     I am currently trying my hand at fiction. so yes, I am working on another book.

2.  What is your preferred genre?
     Up to now I have written three books, all of which are based on fact; biographies and memoirs. However, I prefer to read fiction myself and so I am now trying my hand at a thriller which might have a touch of romance.

3.  What do you love most about writing in your genre?
     For the historical work I have done I have enjoyed the research enormously and the challenge of putting facts over in an entertaining way.

4.  What is your writing style?
     I like to think that my writing style is simple and elegant, not too heavy with difficult words. I like to include as much dialogue as possible as it makes characters and events more vivid.

5.  What gives you inspiration for your books?
     I wrote my first book about my grandfather in World War I in Iraq for two reasons; one was admiration for the part he played, the other was anger at the war being pursued by Bush and Blair. My other books were written to highlight the amazing lives and the pioneering spirit of women in the past who defied convention and struck out on adventures of their own.

6.  Of all the characters you have created, which is your favourite?
     I haven’t really created characters as I have written about real people. However, I have tried to write my books in the style of a novel which involved creating dialogue and descriptions. I enjoyed the challenge of inventing conversations that were in keeping with the personality of my heroines or heroes.

7.  What character in your book are you least likely to get along with?
     There are two characters I think I would not have got on with and they are the two Scottish sisters who travelled to Mount Sinai to look for ancient biblical manuscripts. They were too austere and puritanical for me.

8.  What is the biggest surprise that you experienced by becoming a writer?
     I was both surprised and delighted when I was contacted by readers who had enjoyed my books so much that they wanted to talk to me about them.

9.  What has been the best compliment?
     Someone said to me that I had brought the person and their era to life.

10. Tell us a little about your plans for the future?
     My plans for the future are to keep writing as long as I can.