Friday, January 30, 2015

Q&A with Hazel Gaynor, Author of A MEMORY OF VIOLETS @WmMorrowBks #Interview #giveaway

Three Print Copies of 

A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
Hazel Gaynor
Releasing Feb 3rd, 2015
William Morrow

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.


Hi Hazel, thanks for taking the time to hang out with A Tasty Read Book Reviews today!

ATR: So, what do you do when you are not writing?

I wish I was writing! It really is a profession you can never really leave behind. I think about my characters and my plot all the time, especially when writing a first draft, and in intense phases of editing. My husband is very patient! I am still very much a part-time writer. When the kids get home from school I have to try and switch off the writing brain and just be mum.

ATR: Where do you get your ideas?

From the past! I am fascinated by forgotten people, places and events, especially from the Victorian, Edwardian and 1920s eras.

ATR: Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

My first book was rejected by publishers so I took the decision to self publish. I’m so glad I did because the success of that book, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, led to a publishing contract with William Morrow/HarperCollins. They republished THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME in 2014 and it went on to become a New York Times best seller. Proof that you should never give up!

ATR: What a GREAT Story to tell the grandchildren!! Do you buy a book by the cover?

Yes! I adore book covers and am often drawn to a book initially because of the cover. I’m so lucky to have a brilliant design team at my publisher, William Morrow. I really believe a cover is part of the book’s story. I especially loved the cover of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which was a huge bestseller in 2014.

ATR: Do you ever write in your PJ’s?

Very occasionally (shhh) if my husband does the school run, but I am always showered and dressed by mid-morning (honestly!)

ATR: If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?

To the past. I would love to spend short periods of time in each of the eras I have written in, to really absorb the atmosphere and understand what it was really like back then.

ATR: One of your favorite quotes – 

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.” -Elizabeth Taylor.

ATR: Red, or white wine?

White. I love a really cold Sauvingon Blanc or Sancerre. I also love gin and tonic. Nothing better on a hot sunny day when writing in the garden!

9. What is your favorite type of pet?

My cat, Puffin. We got her from the animal shelter when she was a few weeks old and is really a member of the family now. She often curls up beside me when I’m writing. There’s something about writers and cats, isn’t there!

ATR: Do you prefer print books or ebooks?

Print. I’m a real traditionalist and don’t even own a Kindle. I love browsing in book shops and finding books I’ve never heard about. As long as people are reading books, I really don’t mind what format they prefer.

ATR: What does your family think of your writing?
My family are hugely supportive. I really don’t think anyone could write without that support. It’s a very lonely, singular job in some ways and I think it must be hard for non-writers to understand why we do it! My husband is great at discussing plot ideas with me and my two children are now at an age where they can understand what I do. They often write little stories themselves, which is lovely. My niece and nephew in England think I’m famous but their mum (my sister) just laughs and tells me to get on with the housework. She definitely keeps my feet on the ground.

ATR: What does your writing schedule look like?

I write while the boys are at school, between 9am and 2pm. When I’m writing the first draft, I aim for 2000 words a day. Sometimes I write many more words and other days, less so. I’m not a writer who plots and plans. I tend to start with an initial idea, tonnes of research books and notes, and take it from there. I usually don’t know how things will pan out or where the novel will end, so that can get a little unnerving at times!

My ‘routine’ is that I juggle my writing around family commitments. Occasionally, I take myself off to a local coffee shop for a change of scenery

ATR: Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?

Inspired by true events, A MEMORY OF VIOLETS is a historical novel 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. It is a novel about family bonds, especially the unique relationship between sisters, and with a touch of the paranormal and an intriguing mystery at its core, I hope there is something for many readers to enjoy.

The novel was inspired by my love of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady (I played the role of Eliza Doolittle in the school musical when I was seventeen). I wanted to understand more about the real Elizas – the young women who sold flowers and watercress on the streets of Victorian and Edwardian-era London. I also spent many years living in London and always loved the atmospheric cobbled streets of Covent Garden.

Although fiction, the book was inspired by true events surrounding a charity that was set up in the late 1800s by a philanthropist called John Groom. He set out to take the orphaned, blind and physically disabled flower sellers off the streets and teach them how to make 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.

ATR: Please tell us a little about yourself...

I am a writer and a mum of two boys, aged 7 and 9. I grew up in Yorkshire, England, but moved to Ireland in 2002 after meeting my (now) husband. I started writing in 2009 after redundancy. I love walking in the Wicklow mountains near our home and I love cooking for friends. I’d love to travel to Scandinavia to see the northern lights and would also love to stay in one of the amazing ice hotels they construct from ice blocks every year.

ATR: What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?

Finish the book! It is so important to finish what you start, to prove to yourself that you have the discipline to write an entire novel. Many new writers hop from idea to idea (abandoning a project when it gets tricky) and end up with scraps of novels, but nothing complete. Finishing a book gives you a real sense of achievement, and even if that one doesn’t find a publisher, it will give you a huge boost to write another.

ATR:  Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m so thrilled to be in the early stages of my third novel titled THE MUSE which is set in post-war London of the roaring twenties. 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 change and flux. With the current resurgence of interest in the Great War, during these centenary years, I’ve been fascinated to learn how the event affected women, both during the war and in the years following. It is a challenging project, but I’m excited to see the book and my characters coming together.

ATR: Where can your followers find you?

I am on Twitter @HazelGaynor and on Facebook at My website is I love hearing from readers, so do get in touch!

ATR; Any last words?

Thank you for inviting me to your site and thank you to your visitors for reading. I hope they will enjoy discovering my books!

ATR: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today Hazel! It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.

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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 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.

For more information, visit Hazel’s website at or Facebook page or follow her on Twitter @HazelGaynor

1 comment:

bn100 said...

No, I don't