Good morning Hilary, it is lovely to meet you and ask you some questions for my website, please help yourself to a caramel shortcake Hilary, they are just out of the oven.
Hi Jan, thanks for the caramel shortcake - delicious! And thanks for the interview, it’s much appreciated. Thrilled you enjoyed the Lavender House, I hope your website Seniors do too.
I have just read The Lavender House, your latest book and thoroughly enjoyed the novel. The ages of the main characters are of a similar age to me and I wondered if you could start by telling me a bit about the novel and how you came to write it?
The idea for The Lavender House came because I saw many of my friends and women of my age – mid-sixties – struggling with ageing parents, grandchildren care and their own work, and I wondered where the woman herself was in all this. I think it’s easy for women to think they can do it all, be there for everyone, but at what cost? And, as ever, I am intrigued by how an older woman manages a romantic and sexual affair under the eyes of her family!
What was your favourite subject at school?
English! But also biology. I’m fascinated by how the human body works, how the natural world works. New Scientist a favourite mag, although the recent piece about space/time, black holes and quantam mechanics was pretty baffling.
Have you been a writer all your working life or have you worked in other professions?
I’ve been a nurse, a marriage guidance counsellor, run a small cancer charity, worked for an engineering firm, a vitamin company and a nurse’s agency. Turn my hand to anything, me!
Do you spend a lot of time on research for each novel?
The main thrust of my novels is relationship/family drama, so there’s not the sort of research that an historical novel might need, for instance. But I spent a fair bit of time – most enjoyable - researching Country music for the Lavender House. And locations take up a lot of research hours, if I’m not familiar with a place. Choosing the characters’ names is also a time-consuming process – it’s very important to get that right and I often change a name mid-novel if it’s not working. It’s funny, because my next novel – A Perfect Husband - involves a gambler, and I’ve been researching on the Internet, only to be inundated by pop-ups and emails from casinos, insolvency firms, cash cards and helplines!
Which authors inspire you and why?
Ooh, tricky one, there are so many. George Eliot – Middlemarch a favourite. Anita Shreve, Marilynne Robinson, Elena Ferrante, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens… they’ve all written powerful, memorable characters who are so recognisably human. And there is a strong emotional/relationship content to their work – basically, how we survive each other.
Do you have a special room in your house where you write?
I’m in the attic! It’s lovely, I can look out and see the village going about its business, but I’m peacefully alone. My husband, Don, works in the shed across the garden, so I don’t even know he’s there… essential!
What advice would you give to a budding author starting out later in life?
Read everything. Practice writing - write anything, even if it’s not an actual book at first, even if you think it’s rubbish. Write from the heart. Finish it. Get an agent. Never give up.
How do you relax?
I love the movies. Don and I go to the cinema whenever we can. Reading. Walking – we have a gorgeous harbour nearby and I walk there every day when I’ve finished work, often plugged into an audiobook, especially when it’s cold and I don’t feel like taking my slippers off. Hanging out with the family – granddaughters in particular.
What are your plans for the rest of 2017?
I’m just finishing another book, so that will take up some time. Then planning the next one. Talking at the Chichester Lit Fest on July 10th. I have some trips to look forward to – Vienna, Cornwall, France, maybe Barcelona. I’m trying yoga classes – stiff as a board at the moment, but I have hope. More movies, theatre, books.
FIVE QUICK ANSWERS PLEASE!
Sweet or savoury? Savoury – caramel shortcake notwithstanding.
Countryside or seaside? Seaside definitely.
Gym or walking outdoors? Walking outdoors, hate gyms.
Morning or evening person? Morning. I’ve had it by 10pm.
TV or radio? Both.
Let me give my members some background information as taken from your home page.
Hilary Boyd trained as a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital, then as a marriage guidance counsellor. After a degree in English Literature at London University in her thirties, she moved into health journalism, writing a Mind, Body, Spirit column for the Daily Express. She published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects before turning to fiction and writing a string of bestsellers, starting with Thursdays in the Park. Hilary is married to film director/producer Don Boyd.
Many thanks for your time Hilary. It has been a great pleasure to interview you. I am delighted to tell members that a signed copy of The Lavender House will be donated as a raffle prize for a future draw on the website. Details will be announced soon.
The Lavender House is available to buy now in paperback from Amazon.