Q&A With Hazel Gaynor
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Q&A With Hazel Gaynor
This afternoon I’m doing a Q&A with USA Today Bestselling author Hazel Gaynor. Hazel has written the novels “The Contingley Secret,” “The Girl From The Savoy,” “A Memory Of Violets,” “When We Were Young & Brave,” “The Girl Who Came Home,” and “The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter”. Hazel has also written many books with Heather Webb, who I did a Q&A with back in the summer of 2022, which include, “Three Words for Goodbye,” “Meet Me In Monaco,” & “Last Christmas in Paris” .
Q: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
A: I was a very early reader and always had access to lots of books as a child as we visited the library every week. I’ve always loved creative writing, but I had no idea how to write a novel, or how to go about getting one published. I wrote scraps of novels for years before writing my first full novel in 2001. While it was never published, it taught me the discipline needed to sit down and write, and also taught me how much I loved writing. I then wrote and self-published The Girl Who Came Home in 2012, which eventually led to my publishing deal with HarperCollins in 2014. Ten books on, I’m still so excited to be writing.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels?
A: Not yet, but I can always dream!
Q: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to be a writer, especially for anyone wanting to write historical fiction like you do?
A: Start writing! It really is the only way to find out if you really want to do this, if you’re prepared to make sacrifices to find time to write, and if you really have a story you want to tell. First drafts don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be written – then the real writing starts.
Q: If you had to choose out of all your novels, which one was your favorite one to write?
A: Such a hard question to answer as each book has led me to a different piece of history and different characters. There was something magical and charming about immersing myself in the world of Frances and Elsie in The Cottingley Secret, and I loved writing Grace Darling on the page in The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. Apart from Meet Me in Monaco, which I co-write with Heather Webb and features Princess Grace of Monaco, Grace Darling is the only real person I have written into my novels.
Q: What were your favorite novels you read so far this year?
A: I absolutely loved Yellowface by R.F.Kuang, and Weyward by Emilia Hart. I also loved Kristin Harmel’s beautiful WW2 novel, The Paris Daughter which will be published this June.
Q: What’s it like writing with someone else? Do you enjoy writing solo or do you love writing with Heather Webb the best?
A: I love both, and they actually complement each other really well. It’s such fun to share the creative journey when I’m co-writing with Heather. We’ve learnt a lot from each other’s writing processes and often bounce ideas off each other for our solo projects.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone wanting to have someone else be a co-writer with them?
A: The most important thing – as with any book – is to have a great idea and to bring the passion for that idea to the page every day. Think about how it will work with a co-writer from a practical point of view. Writing with someone else involves a huge amount of trust and creative flexibility. This isn’t necessarily going to work with your best friend! Think about it carefully before committing.
Q: I saw in your Instagram bio that in June 2023 your next novel “The Last Lifeboat will be published. Can you spoil a little bit about what it’s about?
A: Two women’s lives become fatefully entwined when an evacuee ship carrying British children to Canada during WW2 is torpedoed in the Atlantic. Alice King finds herself in a lifeboat with other survivors while, in London, Lily Nicholls desperately awaits news of her children. Inspired by true events, The Last Lifeboat is a very different story of WW2, a story of human courage and endurance, and I’m so excited for readers to turn the first page!
Q: Are you writing any new novels by yourself and with Heather Webb? If so can you spoil a little bit about them?
A: Yes, and I am very excited about both! I can’t say too much about my next solo novel yet, but I can share that it takes place during the dust bowl era of the 1930s and will be my first novel set entirely in the USA. Driven by an intriguing female character and her estranged niece, the story explores themes of self-discovery, finding hope within adversity, and how far we will go to protect those we love. It was pitched to my editor as ‘a story you already know; a woman you don’t’, and I can’t wait to share more detail in the coming months!
Heather and I are currently writing Christmas WithThe Queen, which is set over the first five Christmas seasons of Queen Elizabeth IIs reign and revolves around a will-they-won’t-they romance between a chef in the royal household and a royal correspondent working for the BBC. We’re having such fun writing it!