Jasper Fforde is an author you can't refuse
Jasper Fforde’s best-selling, genre-busting novels sound both daft and pretentious: A winsome detective named Thursday Next (her son is Friday) jumps in and out of great literature trying to rescue kidnapped characters and mend broken narratives, while Uriah Heep, Miss Havisham, and Hamlet stray from their pages into a warped, satirical facsimile of our world. ”Imagine how hard it was for me to get published,” says Fforde, 43, who completed five novels and collected 76 rejection letters before landing a publisher for the first Next title, The Eyre Affair, which appeared in 2001. ”When you write a begging letter you have to include a précis of your book and most publishers just said, ‘Oh my God, what is this complete nonsense?’ and never read the novels.”
Someone finally did, and the fantastical, effervescent Eyre Affair was greeted with rapturous reviews and followed by three fizzy, allusive, and pun-heavy sequels. Soon, the Welsh author developed a cult following of so-called Nextaholics who are holding the first-ever Fforde Ffestival, a two-day convention, this September in the English town of Swindon.
And this month, Fforde is launching his new nursery crime series by resurrecting the first novel he ever wrote, The Big Over Easy, a droll, densely plotted mystery in which detectives Jack Spratt and Mary Mary investigate — don’t crack up — the suspicious death of Humpty Dumpty. ”I’m hopeful that people who thought the Thursday Next books were inaccessible because of their use of the classics will be okay with Humpty Dumpty,” says Fforde. Next up: The Fourth Bear, a retelling of the Goldilocks story. As Fforde explains: ”There’s a lot going on there we don’t know about.”