Welcome to my blog, Hazel Osmond. Hazel has two books out with Quercus and another coming in August. She’s a member of the same Romantic Novelist’s Association chapter as me and I’m delighted to have her answering questions from my grab bag. And being funny and provocative while she’s at it!
What have you given up to make time for writing?
Housework. I was never a martyr to it anyway, but now you have to have inoculations if you want to visit. Things have been found down the back of my sofa that explain the missing link.
No, seriously – I have been a freelance copywriter for years and as I’ve become more successful with the books and short stories, I’ve taken on less of that kind of work. Now the thought of spending hours sweating over writing a brochure holds no appeal for me, whereas writing 10,000 words of a book, does.
Which book gave you the most trouble to get right?
My second one, ‘The First Time I Saw Your Face’. There were a lot of back stories and timelines I had to make sure were correct. Also, the main romantic lead was doing something very reprehensible, but he had to be likeable while he was lying through his teeth.
I learned a lot writing that book, like never do such a complex plot again.
Do you plan or fly by the seat of your pants?
Bit of both, but more of the latter. I tend to think that people’s writing styles mimic their approach to life. I’m a very organised person who is also capable of great procrastination and vagueness.
Most fun part of being a writer?
Being able to create worlds and control what happens in them – much more socially acceptable than becoming a dictator.
Hardest thing about being a writer?
Never being able to switch off from looking at things and thinking ‘ah, that’s a good idea for a story’. It can happen at the worst times – funerals, hospital visits, quite emotional rows. It’s as if you can be two people at once – one living the moment and one standing back observing.
Yes. Any writer who tells you they don’t is lying or has little respect for the reader.
Do you find writing fun while you’re doing it?
Most of the time I do. I enjoy the kind of stories I write and love the characters. And then there are the other days when I think it would be less tortuous to be a shark fighter.
What would make you give up writing?
If I didn’t enjoy it any more, or if I was being asked to write to a formula.
What’s the most memorable book you read as a child?
The Just William stories by Richmal Crompton. They probably seem quite dated now but they were my first experience of humorous writing and I was chuffed to find out Richmal was a woman. I read the stories back recently and the characterisation through dialogue and action is masterful – or rather, mistressful.
Do you like being around other writers?
I do like being around generous minded writers – it’s nice to chew over things that you have in common, good or bad. I think you need to be a writer to understand the highs and lows that writing can entail. I’ve met some lovely fellow writers who will allow themselves to be vulnerable and will share advice and help. They’ll also be happy for you when things are going well and say just the right things when they’re not. I’ll butter Becky up here and say she is very much one of these writers.
However, if you want me to be honest, I’ve also met some stinkers who have to be top dog in any social set-up and can chip away at your self-confidence. They are to be avoided like the plague.
Do your characters feel like they have minds of their own, or are they putty in your hands?
Very much that they have minds of their own once I’ve got to know them as well as I need to for a book. I might set them up in a situation and know more or less how they are going to react, but often they will do something I didn’t predict and it’s up to me to get them out of it.
Do you “cast” your books with real-life actors or other pics from the net?
I do in the sense that I’m looking for a ‘type’ – sorry, know that’s a bit insulting to people as individuals, but you know, sophisticated, cowboyish, chunky rugby type … so I’ll start with that, but it is just a starting point.
My first book, ‘Who’s afraid of Mr Wolfe?’ was definitely a tall, dark, Alpha male type – and looks-wise based on Richard Armitage, the actor. Book 2, was a David Tennant, very nervy, emotional guy. Book 3 ‘Playing Grace’ a young, laid back American in the mould of Owen Wilson and the book I’ve just finished, ‘The Mysterious Miss Mayhew’ an older, more solid guy like Matthew MacFadyen.
I generally do that with the male characters, but not the female ones … no, I don’t know either.
What do you wish someone had told you before you became a writer?
Buy a good chair, don’t go on twitter drunk and get clear in you mind what you mean by success – if you do that, you won’t get distracted by what other people might think constitutes success.
Coming on 15th August from Hazel: ‘Playing Grace’, published by Quercus.
Grace Surtees has everything carefully under control – her work life, her home life and her love life – especially her love life.
But then her boss hires Tate Jefferson, a brash American, to spice up the gallery tours his company provides. Messy and fond of breaking rules, Tate explodes into her tidy existence like a paintball, and Grace hates everything about him…
Because, for Grace, the alternative would be simply too terrifying to contemplate: to love Tate rather than hate him would mean leaping out of her comfort zone, and Grace’s devotion to order hides some long-kept secrets… secrets she’s sure someone like Tate Saunders could never accept or understand.
Find out more about Hazel and her writing at her website