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INTERVIEW: Hannah, Richelle, author of 'Secrets of the Tides'

Friday, November 02, 2012

Whenever I read a book I really enjoy, I always want to know more about the author. I do hope you are the same!

Earlier this week I reviewed Hannah Richell's  first book, a suspenseful family drama that moves from the present to the past, slowly revealing deeply hidden secrets that have torn the Tides family apart. 

As I said in my review: 'the three women at the heart of the story – Dora and her mother and sister – really rang true. I recognised many of their dilemmas and fears all too well ... a wonderful book by a new author, I’d really recommend it as a Book Club book as there’s so much in it to talk about! 

So, wanting to know more about Hannah and how she got the first idea for her book, I begged her to answer a few questions. Here are her responses:

Are you a daydreamer too?
I'm a big dreamer, both in the day and at night. One of the best things
about being a writer is that I'm essentially being paid to daydream. I just
have to make sure I get it down on the page now.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I've always adored books and reading and was drawn to the idea as a kid, and
yet 'being a writer' always seemed like an unachievable dream. I never had
the confidence or self-belief to try. After university I pursued a career in
publishing, which I loved, and that always felt about as close as I would
ever get. Then, when I washed up in Australia, I felt this urge building
inside of me to give it a go. I think I'd reached a point in my life where I
didn't mind so much if I made a fool of myself.

Tell me a little about yourself – where were you born, where do you
live, what do you like to do?
I am a Brit by birth but emigrated to Australia in 2005 with my boyfriend.
We've since married and now live in Sydney's Inner West with our two young
kids and a rather antisocial cat called Lennie. When I'm not writing I'm
usually found hanging out with the kids in parks or on the beach. My
favourite thing to do at the end of a busy day is to curl up with my
husband, a glass of wine and a good book. I'm more of a homebody than a
hellraiser but I do love a good restaurant, a great film or a few cocktails
when out with the girls.

How did you get the first flash of inspiration for this book?
One of the central themes in 'Secrets of the Tides' is motherhood. I was
inspired, in part, by my own journey into motherhood. For me, it was a time
of great joy and love, but also great vulnerability and fear. I worried I
wouldn't be a good parent and saw clearly how fragile the bonds that connect
a family could be ... how one moment could change everything. That concept
is at the heart of 'Secrets of the Tides' and became my starting point. 

How extensively do you plan your novels?
I'm definitely a planner. I like to know the beginning and roughly
understand the end, although how I get there can shift dramatically along
the way. I'm learning that often the best ideas, plot twists and character
details come to me as the story evolves. 
(This is how I work too, and I think you can tell when a book has been well-planned - all the parts of the machine fit together properly and work to drive the story forward. 'Secrets of the Tides' was beautifully structured as a result)

Do you ever use dreams as a source of inspiration?
I've never used a specific dream, but I do like to mull over knots in my
plot just before I fall asleep. That moment just before sleep arrives is a
strange one: my mind spirals in so many different directions and I find I'll
 often have a good idea or find a solution to a problem just as I'm teetering
 on the edge of sleep. Of course I then have to leap out of bed and write it
down before I forget. 
(Me too!)

Where do you write, and when?
I have two young kids so I write whenever they are at childcare, or whenever
I can snatch a moment here or there amidst the chaos. Sometimes I write at
the kitchen table at home and sometimes I go to a writers' room in the city.
I like to mix it up a bit.

What is your favourite part of writing?
I love it when it's flowing and I look up and realise several hours have
passed and I've been totally lost in my own fictional world. I love it when
that great idea or plot twist arrives like a thunderbolt. I love it when a
character leaps off the page and tells you what they're going to do or say
next and I truly had no idea.

What do you do when you get blocked?
I go for a walk. I drink wine. I whinge at my husband.

How do you keep your well of inspiration full?
Sleep. Books. Film. Family. Friends. Solitude. The sea. Music.

Do you have any rituals that help you to write?
I like to write in the morning in a quiet(ish) room with a large flat white.
If I'm struggling to create a certain mood I might play music - movie
soundtracks can be particularly evocative.

Who are ten of your favourite writers?
Dodie Smith
David Mitchell
Jilly Cooper
Tim Winton
Ian McEwan
David Nicholls
Maggie O'Farrell
Roald Dahl
Stephen King
Toni Morrison

A picture of Dodie Smith, who wrote '101 Dalmations', and 'I Capture the Castle', an absolutle favourite of mine too

What do you consider to be good writing?
Words that take you either far outside yourself or deeply inside yourself.
Words that move you emotionally, in some way.

What is your advice for someone dreaming of being a writer too?
Do it - but do it purely for the love of writing.

What are you working on now?
I'm completing some edits on my second novel (as yet untitled) which I hope
will be out next year.
I'll be looking forward to that!

If you enjoyed this interview, you may also like to read my interviews with Joanne HarrisGeraldine Brooks, and Jesse Blackadder


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