Hay Festival Debut Discoveries - Q&A with Steve Jones

Each year, Hay Festival Wales champions 10 remarkable debuts from first time authors as a part of our Debut Discoveries series. Our line-up for 2023 includes Call Time by Steve Jones. Steve Jones, best known for his work as a Channel 4 F1 presenter, unveils his first novel that is billed as Sliding Doors meets High Fidelity. Learn more about Steve and Call Time in this Q&A...

What compelled you to write your debut?

As a presenter I’ve written a lot of the blitherings that come out of my mouth on screen. Alongside my twenty plus years in TV I’ve been a prolific reader. I think it’s inevitable, if you read enough books, you will one day ask yourself - can I write one?

What does being featured in Hay Festival's Debut Discoveries mean to you?

When you’re writing a novel and you start to believe that what you’re putting on the page isn’t total garbage it’s hard not to start to fantasise - what if a publisher was mad enough to put a cover around this story? What if I were one day talking about this debut at the Hay Festival? Naturally you tell yourself to stop being so silly. That’s never going to happen, right?

What are you looking forward to at the Festival?

Books. Books as far as the eye can see. People holding books whilst taking about books. Books.

What book(s) are you reading at the moment?

I generally have a couple on the go. I’m a sucker for a King novel. I’m enjoying his TK TP novel from a couple of years back, The Institute. And I’m reading Matthew Richardson’s latest, The Scarlet Papers. It’s bonkers good. It’s that classic - everyman gets caught up in a conspiracy, conceit. It’s brilliantly told over a period close to a hundred years. I think it’s going to be a smash hit.

What advice would you give to those writing their own debuts?

The first time someone tears your heart out of your chest by pointing out flaws or errors in your manuscript, do not give up! Take a breather. Half way through Call Time I gave up. A month went by and I had no intention of returning. Thankfully a friend coaxed me back onto the horse and it was quickly apparent that all I had needed was a break. Feeling refreshed brought me fresh ideas and loosened up elements of my story that I had rigidly stuck to beforehand.

Book now to see Steve Jones talk Call Time with Rachel Parris live at Hay Festival 2023 here.