Author Q&A: Hazel Gaynor
If you love historical fiction or all things British (as we do!) then you’ll love Hazel Gaynor’s novels. Gaynor visits Shelf Pleasure to talk about her latest release, The Girl from the Savoy .
The Girl from the Savoy takes place in London in the early 1920s. What appealed to you about this setting?
The idea came about through a conversation with my editor and our mutual love of the 1920s. This was a real period of social change – especially for women – and that always allows for great story. I was intrigued by the idea of an ordinary working girl who had access to the famous actresses she admired. The dazzling social scene of London’s iconic hotels during this era felt like the perfect setting, and when I started researching the history of the Savoy I found fascinating accounts of famous people who had dined and stayed there. I imagined the young chambermaids gossiping about the hotel guests in their room late at night, and the story developed from there. And, of course, there’s also the cocktails and dancing and fabulous clothes. Who could resist?
Your main character, Dolly Lane, became something of a best friend as you wrote about her. Do all your characters make themselves such a part of you?
The Girl from the Savoy tells the story of two women from very different social backgrounds: Dolly Lane, a chambermaid at London’s iconic Savoy Hotel, and Loretta May, a famous actress in the West End. Both are struggling in the aftermath of the Great War which has left them with secrets and regrets. Dolly is a gutsy, plucky heroine who dreams of a better life for herself. She is flawed and makes mistakes, but has an endearing childlike quality about her. I had such fun writing her. I always feel very connected to my characters. I can almost hear them at my shoulder as I write their words and emotions. Dolly feels like a real person to me now and I hope readers will be rooting for her!
What drew you to historical fiction?
My first attempt at writing a novel was contemporary women’s fiction – and it was terrible! I learnt a lot from the experience of writing it though, and it was that experience that pushed me to tackle a historical novel. I’m fascinated by the way people lived in the past, and by the incredible life-changing events that took place in the last 100 years. Often it’s an image from the era, or a person or event I read about that first ignites the creative spark, then I let my imagination take over. My first novel was inspired by Irish connections to the Titanic; my second by the flower sellers of Covent Garden in Victorian London. The Girl from the Savoy took me into the years of the Great War and the early 1920s, which were both new periods/events for me to write about.
What is the last book you read that you can’t stop thinking about?
I read a great book while I was on holiday in Florida recently called Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickman. It is a terrific ‘tall-tale’ – witty, unusual, and engaging. I loved it.
What can readers expect next from you?
I have two exciting projects underway at the moment!
My fourth novel (as yet untitled) is inspired by the true events surrounding two young cousins who claimed to photograph fairies in the village of Cottingley in Yorkshire in the 1900s and convinced men such as Arthur Conan Doyle of their authenticity. Growing up in Yorkshire, this is a story I have always been aware of and one I cannot wait to share. The novel will be published in spring/summer 2017.
My other project is a historical novel Last Christmas in Paris, which I am co-writing with the author of Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, Heather Webb. The novel is a love story – written in letters about a young English woman and a soldier who promise to spend Christmas together in Paris until the Great War sends them on different paths. It’s such a great experience writing this with Heather. It will be published in fall 2017.
Hazel Gaynor’s 2014 debut THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a NYT and USA Today bestseller and winner of the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS was also a NYT and USA Today bestseller.
Hazel is one of nine contributing authors to WWI anthology FALL OF POPPIES – Stories of Love and the Great War. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY is available now.
Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and also contributes special guest features for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed and Rachel Joyce among others.
Favorite shows on summer reruns? Try one of our picks ..
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..