Wednesday, April 16, 2014

#HazelGaynor Interview & Giveaway

I don't know about most of you, but I have always been fascinated with the Titanic. Maybe it was because I was at the right impressionable age when Leonardo DiCaprio dazzled the masses in 1997 or because I have always been a big history buff. No matter what the reason, I know many people are still fascinated over 100 years later. Seriously, I get at least 2 reference questions a week from kids who are wanting Titanic books. 

I was lucky enough to interview Hazel Gaynor, who wrote The Girl Who Came Home. This Titanic novel focuses more on the 3rd class passengers, which can be often over looked. 

Author Bio (which I admit to stealing from her website)
Hazel Gaynor is an author and freelance writer in Ireland and the UK. In addition to writing historical fiction, Hazel writes a popular guest blog, Carry on Writing, for national Irish writing website She also writes feature author interviews for the site and has interviewed Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Daisy Waugh and Mary Beth Keane, among others. In October 2012, Hazel was awarded the Cecil Day Lewis Award for Emerging Writers. She appeared at Waterford Writer’s Weekend in 2012 and 2013 and will be speaking at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in 2014.

Originally from North Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband, two young children and an accident-prone cat. The Girl Who Came Home is her first novel.
Hazel Gaynor Interview Questions

1.      What inspired you to write about The Titanic?
I was a teenager when the wreck of Titanic was discovered by Robert Ballard in 1985 and have been fascinated with the ship and the events of April, 1912, ever since. I always said I would write a novel about Titanic – it just took a little time! My interest in the ship and her passengers has grown as I’ve learned more about them. I especially loved Walter Lord’s incredible book, ‘A Night to Remember’ and, of course, the 1997 James Cameron movie started a whole new phase of Titanic fever. When I started my research for THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME I came across the record of a survivor from a small parish in County Mayo, Ireland. From there, I discovered the history of a group of Irish emigrants – now known locally as the Addergoole Fourteen - and I knew I’d found the inspiration for my novel.

2.      What do you hope readers will come away with after finishing The Girl Who Came Home?
The novel explores the experience of a third class passenger on Titanic, the aftermath of the disaster (for those on board and for family and friends back home) and how an event such as this can have far-reaching repercussions on a survivor’s life. Through Maggie confiding her story in her great-granddaughter, Grace, I hope to have shared that survivor experience and allow readers to immerse themselves in an aspect of the Titanic disaster they might not have considered. Maggie and Grace are both strong women, full of spirit and determination. I hope readers will enjoy getting to know them and their stories as much as I enjoyed writing them. While the book it is an emotional read, I hope readers will feel genuinely moved and uplifted by it.

3.      Do you have a strict writing process for your work?
At the moment, I write in my attic. It is a light, airy room and when I close the door I can forget all about everything else. I write from early morning after my two boys have gone to school and stop when they come home, between 1pm and 2.30pm. I tend not to do any creative writing in the afternoons but focus on admin and social media (in between building Lego rockets and cooking the dinner). It’s hectic and chaotic, but it seems to work - somehow!
I don’t have a strict writing process (the word ‘strict’ scares me, to be honest!). I always start with research, so I have a clear sense of the character, the period and the story I’m telling. Then I dive in and write the opening chapters. I’m far too excited at that stage to make myself sit down and plan everything out. I just want to get started! I often write an idea for the ending – but that will change many times before the final version. I also like to polish my first 3-5 chapters during the first draft stage, so I get a really good sense of character, voice and place.

4.      What is the scariest thing you have found about writing a novel?
Empty pages! The realization, when you’ve written 40,000 words, that you’ve probably only written about a third of the novel (or not even half, at best). Those 60,000 or so unwritten words are a terrifying thing. I doubt myself every time, but somehow, with plenty of coffee and the support from my family and friends, they get written.

5.      What was the last book you read?
WAKE by Anna Hope. This is a wonderful novel about the Great War. It is set around five days during the journey of the Unknown Soldier from France to the Cenotaph in London. The novel tells the story of three women, affected by the war in very different ways. It’s a fascinating take on this historic event.

6.      What book could you read over and over again?
There are so many! In terms of a contemporary book, I absolutely loved Rose Tremain’s RESTORATION and MERIVEL and would happily read both over and over. The character of Robert Merivel is brilliant – he is funny, sad (and quite risqué!). I could also re-read lots of the classics again and again. My copies of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Pride & Prejudice are very well worn.

7.      Right Handed or Left Handed?

8.      Were you always destined to be a writer or did you dream of another vocation as a child?

My greatest ambition as a child was to play tennis at Wimbledon. No, it didn’t happen! I’ve always loved books and have always written creatively in one way or another, but I went straight into a corporate career in the finance and legal sectors after university. It was only when I left my job in 2009 to look after my children that I began to tap back into my creative side. Initially, I wrote a parenting blog in the few moments I snatched while I was at home with my two children. This led to writing freelance for the local and national press and my writing began to get noticed. Eventually, that long-held ambition to write a novel finally felt like something I could achieve. I consider myself very lucky to have found something I love working at.

9.      What can you tell us about The Daughter of the Flowers, your next novel which is set to be released in 2015?

My second novel is about two sets of sisters and is set around a charity for orphaned flower sellers in Victorian London. The story spans several decades across the late 1800s and early 1900s. I love the Victorian and Edwardian eras and the streets of Victorian London were a wonderfully haunting place to explore in my imagination. I am very excited about the book’s publication early next year.

10.  Your website reveals that you live with an accident-prone cat. What is the most ridiculous situation your cat has gotten into?

Ah, Puffin (named by my five-year-old). She once climbed out of the Velux window in the attic and froze when she realized she was on a very steep, slippery roof. Luckily, my son (then only three) had seen her escape and called for me. I managed to coax her back in, much to her - and my - relief. She’s probably used up most of her nine lives at this stage through one scrape or another. She is very much one of the family – and a great writing buddy.

Be sure to check out the giveaway below!


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