Monday, 6 November 2017

The Write Stuff with... Hazel Gaynor

Today it's my pleasure to be part of the blog tour for Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb's novel Last Christmas in Paris.  I don't know about you but I'm always intrigued as to how a duo writing together works so I'm delighted that Hazel has taken time out of her busy schedule to talk about this very subject.

Hazel Gaynor
copyright Deasy Photographic
When people discover we have written a novel together, the question is always: how? How do two writers, with unique styles and voices, come together to produce a seamless novel? We first ‘met’ in 2013 after being introduced online by our mutual agent. We hit it off instantly, and in early 2015, Heather approached Hazel about contributing to an anthology of short stories: FALL OF POPPIES - Stories of Love and the Great War. As Fall of Poppies was nearing completion, we both felt there was more we wanted to write about the Great War. We were also really excited to write together again and the idea to co-write a historical novel began to take shape.

The idea for LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS developed from a frenzied Facebook Messenger chat one afternoon and the book was then written through a literal exchange of letters between us, writing as our characters. Hazel would wake up in Ireland, pen a letter from one of her characters, and wait for a reply. Several hours later, Heather would wake in the U.S. to find mail in her inbox and respond. The process felt so organic and the story flowed. The editing process was a little harder to manage, moving a partially-edited document between the two of us, but we made it work.

Having a writing partner demands a huge amount of trust and commitment. We had to navigate the pressures of juggling individual writing projects, as well as the demands of family life along the way, and this trust is what made that possible. Skype chats and Google Hangouts became weekly powwows to flesh out plot snags and character arcs. Writing can be a lonely process, so it was a wonderful experience to share the process with someone else. LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS was a challenge to write in so many ways, but a complete joy in so many others.  

About the authors 
Heather Webb
Hazel is now working on her fifth solo novel, a re-imagining of the life of Victorian heroine Grace Darling, and the forgotten lives of female lighthouse keepers of the early 20th century. She is also working on her first book for children.

Heather is gearing up to release a historical suspense novel titled The Phantom’s Apprentice, a re-imagining of Phantom of the Opera told from Christine Daae’s point of view on February 6, 2018. She’s also working diligently on an immigration story set in 1901 U.S.

We also can’t wait to work together again and are already discussing ideas. Watch this space!’

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…

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