Friday, July 12, 2013

The Shadow Year - and a giveaway!

She's the Sydney-based author of last year's fiction debut hit Secrets of the Tides. Now her follow-up novel The Shadow Year is making waves too. The lovely Hannah Richell takes time out from her busy schedule to talk writing with MIA. 

Your first novel got rave reviews. How hard was it to write your second?
    It did prove hard, but I think that was down more to my own sense of expectation and self-doubt than from any external pressures. To receive good reviews and reader feedback for Secrets of the Tides was incredibly encouraging, but I took a wrong turn with my second novel – I spent a long time on the first draft of a very different story – and it took me 100,000 words to realize that I was writing the wrong book. Ditching it was a very hard and painful process, but I knew deep down it was the right thing to do.

·        What was your inspiration for The Shadow Year?
        I find it really hard to answer this question. Inspiration for a story comes from so many sources, some conscious and some totally unconscious. The starting point for this book was the image of a young woman wandering around a derelict cottage. It came to me in a moment of absolute clarity and wouldn’t leave me alone; I found myself thinking about the woman and the cottage until I knew I had to write their story.

·        Did you go back to the UK for research purposes, or do you write from memory?
        I wrote my first book, Secrets of the Tides, using childhood memories as a reference point. The novel was set in Dorset, an area I knew well from visiting my grandparents as a young girl, so it was fun to revisit that time in my head and weave echoes of memories into my writing. The Shadow Year, however, was a very different experience. I knew I needed to set the novel in a remote and wild landscape but when I settled on the Peak District, I’d only ever spent one hazy weekend there, several years ago. I had to do a fair bit of geographical research, and also investigate the practicalities for a group of friends to live of the land and eat seasonally. It was great fun, exploring the opportunity for foraging and living self-sufficiently and it offered me the chance to ‘live the dream’ for a little while, if only in my head (which let’s face it, is probably far more comfortable than doing all that hard work!)

·        Where do you write? And with young children, how do you find the time?
   I used to write in snatched moments at the kitchen table, but now that it’s become my job, I try to devote five days a week to it. I’ve rented a studio a short walk from the house. It’s nothing glamorous – just a room, with a window, a door and a desk, but it’s all mine and it’s wonderful to have that space to myself.

·        What advice do you have for people who want to write?
  Read a lot. Write a lot. Delete a lot. Write the story you are itching to tell and write it for the love of writing – not for a market, or an agent, or a publisher, or a hot new trend … because those things are always shifting and moving faster than any writer can keep up with. You can worry about the pitch and the positioning and the agents and the market when you have a manuscript that you believe truly shines.

·        What are you working on now?
        I’m just finishing promotion for The Shadow Year in Australia and the UK, and mulling ideas for my third novel. It’s exciting and terrifying to be contemplating that leap out into another big idea.

·        Tell us a little about yourself ...
  I’m the middle child of a relatively ‘normal’ family and very close to my parents and siblings. After graduating from university I spent ten years working in the book publishing industry, marketing books and authors until I emigrated to Australia at the end of 2005. After a stint working in the film industry in Sydney, I left to have my first child and that’s when I began writing. I’m a bit of a homebody: I love good food, friends, wine, books and film. I’m terrible at walking in heels and I have a fear of karaoke – I have been known to hide in toilet cubicles to escape it. I can laugh until I cry. Marrying my husband and having my two children are the best things I’ve ever done.

Hannah Richell

About The Shadow Year

The Shadow Year is a compelling novel about family, friendship, love and loss.
On a sultry summer s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again ...
Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?
Who could have suspected that one lost year could cast such a long shadow?
To win a copy of Hannah's second novel, The Shadow Year, simply leave a comment below about what you'd do if you could hide away for a year. Thanks to Hannah's publisher Hachette Australia for the giveaway. The Shadow Year retails for $29.99 at all good bookstores. Competition ends at 5 pm on July 19. 

The competition has ended, and the winner is Kim Maxwell. Congratulations! Kim, please contact me with your snail mail address so I can organise for your prize to be delivered. 


Effie said...

If I could hide away for a year, I'd travel to Santorini and live in a little villa on my own, eating the local foods, drinking the local wine, and befriending the local villagers. No stress, no responsibility, just nature and ocean and sunshine!

Char said...

Sounds like my kind of book. I'll have to put it in my list of books in my phone to keep my eye out for.

Char said...

And if I could hide away for a year I'd spend a lot of the year running, walking, exploring new places. And baking.

Mary Preston said...

It would be wonderful to hide away for a year to read and knit and sew. I could even try my hand at quilting. I'd have the time.

I could breathe!!


In The Good Books Blog said...

I would probably start up a blog about it, as I couldn't imagine being hidden away for a whole year and not sharing the experience!
I'd travel, volunteer, read alot, and try different recipes out of the various cookbooks I have

Kim maxwell said...

I would grow a garden, not go anywhere and try and live off the land and not worry about money. That would be fantastic!


Tara said...

I would seriously get going on my bucket list including a trip to Disneyland to ride in the teacups, throwing a coin in the Trevi Fountain and riding a mechanical bull.

Karlene said...

Think it would take me that long to catch up on emails, read my favourite blogs & sort out my photos online. (so I'd do it all from bed)

L said...

If I could hide away for a year, I would spend it to make plans of my future and my 1 year old son. I'm planning to go back studying children education if there is such a thing. I'm still not sure if I want to be a teacher or use the knowledge for my family and friends' benefit. I do know I'm very interested in their well being and I want to learn and apply the knowledge on how to teach things in a way that they understand.

Kim maxwell said...

Thank you so much!!! I have sent you an email from your facebook page.

Thanks heaps!!

Anonymous said...

I love this! Thank you for posting this interview. I love this form of getting to know the author. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to read the book.

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