It was an honor to be the first featured Q&A on Clair’s Have Books Blog. The blog is packed with reading suggestions and lots of good honest reviews. You can catch our conversations here:
And here, for posterity, is what we chatted about….
I am absolutely thrilled to have Faith Hogan on Have Books, Will Read today for a Q&A (my first Q&A on the blog!)
Hi Faith and welcome to Have Books blog, thank you for visiting as part of your Summer Blog Hop
Hi Clair, it’s lovely to be dropping in to visit you at Have Books Blog!
What was your inspiration behind My Husband’s Wives?
My Husband’s Wives was born of the idea of ‘what if…’ I suppose it is a look at how we live our lives today and how families cope with sudden change. The premise is built around how the loss of one person can affect many. It is a positive book, because ultimately, I think that everyone becomes the person they’d always wanted to be, but with Paul Starr in their lives, they wouldn’t or couldn’t become that person.
It’s also about how we judge people – we do this all the time and isn’t it refreshing when we’re so wrong about people and they actually turn out to be just like us – because at base, don’t we all want the same things? To be happy, to be loved and to belong?
If My Husband’s Wives was made into a film, who would play Evie, Grace, Annalise and Kasia? And who would play the charming Paul?
When I was writing the book, I never really thought about putting in descriptions, I just went with it for the most part, but you always have a ‘look,’ in the back of your mind. Sometimes, it’s because voices and characters by necessity, sound like and become certain people and this happened with Annalise (who I think looks a little like Cameron Diaz in her earlier days) and Evie (she’s a Blythe Danner – statuesque, but never quite as beautiful in her mind as Grace!)
Grace wasn’t clear in my mind at the beginning at all. I knew I wanted her to be in her late thirties or forties and as the story progressed, I wanted her to look different to the others, so she had to be shorter, darker, paler; she had to be the kind of person who could look successful and still arty. In the end, she turned into one of the Corr sisters – more because they’re the only short, dark haired Irish women I could think of, and of course, they’re enormously creatively talented.
Kasia looks like a young Keira Knightly, she very much resembles another character in the book and I like that she could be the kind of girl that could turn heads, but generally passes through life unnoticed.
Paul Starr was probably the first face fixed in my mind. From the opening of the book, he was a vivid presence. He became a younger Nigel Havers. He has the floppy hair, he’s easy on the eye, but he’s not Hollywood good-looking. If I was having a say in casting him, though, I’d probably ask for George Clooney – well a girl can dream, can’t she!
Can you describe your journey to publication?
I was very lucky! From the first time I sent out a manuscript, I had a positive response. Several agents were interested in taking me on and in the end, I was more than happy to go with a lady I really liked and who has guided me well in the journey.
Publishers proved somewhat more elusive, but my agent was very focussed on finding the ‘right’ publisher and I trusted her judgement. I’m glad now that I’m with Aria Fiction, because so often I’m told how lucky I am to be in such good hands.
The truth is that I think when it was meant to happen it did – it wasn’t fast, but it feels right and I’m ready for it.
The process itself was very exciting, everything from the offer to holding the paperback in my hand, it feels like a year of milestones and the most wonderful thing is that we are already on the way with book two, so it really has only just begun!
Where do you write and what is your process?
Mostly, I write at home. I have an office at the top of the house, the only view is the sky above my head and a collage of photos and children’s art work on the wall. I write directly onto the laptop, but I use a separate key board if I’m editing or doing bits around the writing.
When I’m on a first draft, I have a comfy armchair, feet up and I just let rip! If left alone, I could lose hours like this and I’ve often gone for up to seven thousand words (not all of them good ones!) When this has happened, it has resulted in sore tendons and a break from typing for a few days, so I definitely don’t recommend it.
The first draft is normally around 120k words, but one third of that will be cut, probably losing one or two characters along the way – very often one of my favourites will have to go.
It can take up to five re-reads (re-drafts or tinkering sessions with the book as a whole) before sending it on to the agent and in the past, I had the luxury of a six week holiday from the MS after the first draft. I’m working to tighter deadlines now so, I’m not sure I’ll have as much time this time round.
Do you have book 2 in the pipeline?
Book two is already at the publishers. I sent it to my agent in the last week of May well within deadline! Phew!
It’s a different book from My Husband’s Wives, with a working title that’s still very much under wraps, but I love it and full credit goes to my agent for the name. Again, there is love, loss, lies and surprises at its centre. It is set in Ireland and moves from past to present, from what if to why not? It’s about taking chances and finding that sometimes people do change, and sometimes, when you need them, they do not change at all.
Thanks Clair for having me on your blog, it’s been really lovely! I’ll be keeping an eye on your site for future good reading suggestions!