On the couch...
with Taken Down co-writer and crime novelist, Jo Spain
Dubliner Jo Spain is a former political advisor in the Dáil. Her rst crime novel, With Our Blessing, was a nalist in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. Since then, Jo has published several thrillers and her rst TV drama, Taken Down, was on RTÉ One last year. Her new novel, Dirty Little Secrets, is out on February 7.
What’s the difference between writing for television and writing a novel?
Showing, not telling. TV works better when the story unfolds visually. In a novel, the character’s internal monologue is often a critical part of the storytelling.
How much TV do you think you watch every week?
We’ve four kids and very few babysitters, so quite a lot. If I’m not working or reading, our evenings are spent watching TV.
Who controls the remote in your house?
For the sake of our marriage, we’ve come to a happy medium. My husband is a remote-hogger but the deal is, he has to check in with me, especially during Champions League season.
What are your favourite TV crime shows?
I’ve more than we can t in here, but highlights over the last few years include: The Night Of, for its slick intelligence and well-drawn characters; The Missing, which was a spectacular whodunit; Trapped was atmospheric and claustrophobic; and River was spellbindingly original.
Are you a “telly on, laptop on the knees and phone for tweeting” over-load kind of person?
If a show is good, it gets my full attention. If I’m on my phone and computer when I’m watching something, that’s a bad sign!
What are your unmissable shows right now?
I’m stuck into series two of Mr Mercedes and I really enjoyed Mrs Wilson. I cannot wait for Luther to start again and season three of The Crown. And I’m basically counting the seconds until Game of Thrones’ nal season.
Who would play you in the TV drama of your life?
We never need to worry about this – my life is way too dull for a TV show!
Are there any genres of TV you just can’t abide?
I can’t cope with daytime TV. Movies over Christmas are ne, or cartoons for the kids, but I only start to watch TV with the Six One News.
What huge watercooler show have you not seen?
Breaking Bad. I tried the rst episode, it did nothing for me and life is too short.
What TV drama would you love to write an episode for?
The Deuce. It would involve working with David Simon and George Pelecanos, which for me would be a dream come true. It was one of the best shows in recent times, especially series two, and I’m dying to see where they take series three. I’d love to write an episode where the women are starting to realise their power within the show’s maledominated world.
The Night Of Mr Mercedes
The Missing Champions League
Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain (Quercus) is in bookshops on February 7