Today I’m pleased to welcome author Hazel Gaynor to the blog. She agreed to sit down and answer some fun questions about herself and her latest release A Memory Of Violets : A Novel of London’s Flower Sellers. I think you’ll enjoy getting to know her a little better and learning about her book. As you know I’m a huge cover junkie and I love her book cover too 🙂 What do you think?
After our interview, please remember to take a moment and enter her wonderful giveaway by clicking on the link 🙂
Let’s get started…
1. In five sentences please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.
I am a writer, a mum to two boys and although born in England, I’ve lived in Ireland for the last thirteen years. Writing is my second career, and a wonderful one at that. My first novel, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, was originally self-published. I love walking, gin and my cat. My favourite movie is The Wizard of Oz and my favourite book is Wuthering Heights.
2. What color is your toothbrush?
Pink. So predictable!
3. Do you prefer an e-reader or reading “real” books on paper?
I love real, delicious, paper books. I don’t even have an e-reader! I love the feel of the physical book in my hand: textured covers, the feel of the pages, the smell of the pages … I know. I’m a little weird.
4. What genre (s) do you write?
Historical Fiction – with a touch of romance. My first novel, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME – A Novel of the Titanic, was partly set in 1912 and partly in 1982. A MEMORY OF VIOLETS moves between the late Victorian and Edwardian eras (1876 to 1912). My next novel will be set in the 1920s.
5. Why did you choose that particular genre?
I’ve always been fascinated by history and studied the subject to A’Level at school. There’s something about bringing the past to life that really appeals to the story-teller in me. I love researching the eras I write in and can easily get lost for hours in libraries and archives. With THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME I tackled the globally well-known story of the Titanic, but from a lesser-known side of the event. A MEMORY OF VIOLETS is set around the less well-known lives of London’s flower sellers. In telling their story, I hope to have given a voice to these forgotten young girls and women.
6. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
I love that first spark on an idea when you just cannot wait to start writing and the words and the ideas just flow. It’s a really special and precious time. Now that I’m writing my third novel, I know that phase can be over quite quickly as the self-doubt and reality of writing a whole book kicks in. I’d encourage all writers to relish those early days when you are romancing and falling in love with your story for the very first time.
7. Let’s play LUCK SEVEN…describe your book using 7 words.
Flowers. Victorians. Sisters. Lost. Found. Love. Forgiveness.
8. What’s the first sentence from your book?
Mammy once told me that all flowers are beautiful, but some are more beautiful than others.
Now the last?
I hold her had tight in mine, and we rush toward the beautiful, beautiful light.
9. What makes your book stand out from others in the same genre?
Gosh. That’s a really tough question because I admire so many other authors writing in this genre. I would love to think that in writing A MEMORY OF VIOLETS I have shared an untold story of a forgotten part of our past and that through my writing and my characters, the reader will step into the past and the story will stay with them long after ‘THE END’
10. Did you have to do a lot of research for this book and if so how did you go about it?
Yes! Loads! There is no other way to write a historical novel than to throw yourself into the era and become as familiar with it as you possibly can. It was through researching the lives of London’s flower sellers that I found the true story of a man called John Groom and the many blind, orphaned and disabled young children and women who he took off the streets and provided homes and employment for making artificial flowers. Their work became widely known in London and eventually reached the attention of Queen Alexandra – great-great-grandmother to the current Queen Elizabeth II. The very first Queen Alexandra Rose Day was held in June 1912, and the charity still exists today.
Having blended fact and fiction in my debut novel, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME (set around the sinking of RMS Titanic), it felt natural to approach A MEMORY OF VIOLETS in a similar way, retelling the story of London’s flower sellers through my fictional interpretation of actual events. Of particular help to me was time spent at the London Metropolitan Archives, where I gathered a vast amount of information about John Groom’s Flower Homes in London and his ‘Flower Village’ orphanage in Clacton on the South coast of England. From newspaper reports, photographs, business ledgers, personal letters and other fascinating items from the period, I developed a real sense of these young girls and women and what it meant to them to have been given an opportunity to improve their circumstances in life.
11. Did anything surprise you about the publishing process?
I’ve been genuinely surprised at how supportive other writers are to each other. I had expected it to be more competitive, but I’ve met the kindest, friendliest people through writing and being published and have felt genuinely supported and encouraged by writers I have never met in person, as well as those I am lucky to know well and call my friends. Writing can seem like a very strange and elusive career to those who aren’t doing it! Writers can understand and appreciate what other writers are going through and maybe that’s why we can stand back and respect each other for doing what we do. Personally, I’m so happy for another writer when I see them achieving great things.
12. Would you give us a sneak peek into what your current WIP is?
I’m in the early stages of writing my third novel, THE MUSE, which is set in post-war London of the roaring twenties during the turbulent times of the Bright Young Things. The novel is about the rise of a young woman from chambermaid at the glamorous Savoy hotel to renowned stage star. I’m really enjoying researching and writing in this era where social boundaries – particularly for women – where in a state of flux. I’m excited to see the book and my characters coming together.
A Memory of Violets:
A Novel of London’s Flower Sellers
By: Hazel Gaynor
Releasing February 3rd, 2015
From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Hazel Gaynor comes a beautiful historical novel about Tilly Harper, a young woman who finds the diary of an orphaned flower seller who was separated from her sister in Victorian England, and her journey to learn the fate of the long lost sisters. Gaynor’s research into the events that inspire her novels is outstanding, and the world of the Victorian flower sellers on the streets of London in the late 1800s is utterly fascinating.
In 1912, twenty-one-year-old Tilly Harper leaves her sheltered home in the Lake District for a position as assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls in London. Orphaned and crippled girls wander the twisted streets with posies of violets and cress to sell to the passing ladies and gentleman, and the Flower Homes provide a place for them to improve their lives of hardship.
When Tilly arrives at Mr. Shaw’s safe haven, she discovers a diary that tells the story of Florrie, a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after being separated from her sister Rosie. Tilly makes it her mission to find out what happened to young Rosie, and in the process learns about the workings of her own heart.
Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2014/11/a-memory-of-violets-novel-of-londons.html
Hazel Gaynor’s 2014 debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME – A Novel of the Titanic was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. A MEMORY OF VIOLETS is her second novel.
Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and contributes regular feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Rachel Joyce and Jo Baker, among others.
Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. She appeared as a guest speaker at the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Historical Novel Society annual conferences in 2014.
Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.
*Avon is hosting a Tour Wide Giveaway for Three Print Copies of THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME by Hazel Gaynor*