Thursday, February 13, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Hannah Beckerman

On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, as she launches her debut novel, The Dead Wife's Handbook, I'm thrilled to welcome the very lovely HANNAH BECKERMAN into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I’m one of those people who’s always - since I was a child - harboured a fantasy about writing a book one day. I’ve tried many times before (I’ve countless unfinished manuscripts knocking around) but when the idea for The Dead Wife’s Handbook came into my head there was a certain insistence about it and I was just desperate to start writing it.

What interests you as a writer?

I’m fascinated by human relationships in all their forms: partners and lovers; parents and siblings; friends and enemies. I think our relationships, more than anything else, define who we are and how we feel about life: which is why I get so annoyed when people denigrate women’s fiction for being ‘merely’ about relationships - human interaction is central to all of our lives!

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

I love writing in the early morning (and by early I mean around 6am!) through to a late lunch, so that would be my ideal. I tend to get a little less focussed mid-afternoon (which is short-hand for saying that the afternoons are often spent surfing the internet!) But I’m looking after my toddler full-time at the moment so I tend to write very early mornings, during her lunchtime nap and in the evenings. Having less time makes you very efficient, I’ve discovered!

What inspires you as a writer?

Reading great books inspires me. I love it when you read a phrase or a sentence that you think is so beautifully constructed you’d like it etched inside your mind. Or when something moves you to tears or laughter. The hope of provoking those kinds of responses in other readers is pretty inspiring.

What are the best things about being a writer?

I love working on my own. That may sound horrendously anti-social but it’s the truth (and I think it’s probably a pretty important trait for a writer). I like being lost in a story and in character’s lives and the feeling of there being a parallel world - that of the book I’m writing - going on in my head at the same time as real life.

And the worst?

The self-discipline and self-motivation it takes when you’re completely stuck. In most jobs, if there’s a task you don’t really relish, there’s usually a different one just around the corner to distract yourself with. When you’re writing it’s just you and the laptop and there’s no escape!

Tell me about The Dead Wife's Handbook: what inspired the story?

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the story of 36-year old Rachel, who’s died unexpectedly and is now watching the lives of her loved ones as they come to terms with her death. It was inspired by two things: firstly, that sense of unease you get when a former partner (even one you don’t want to be with any more!) gets together with someone else, and all the complicated feelings that can provoke. And the idea was also largely inspired by how I felt after I’d been made redundant, when I was beginning to reassess the things that I thought were really important in life.

What was it like to see your published novel for the first time?

Getting the ‘actual’ copy was a pretty nice feeling! I now have one on my desk at all times to remind me what it’s all about. And for the occasional stroke, obviously...

What are your top three tips for unpublished writers?

Really simply: 1) Write a lot. 2) Read a lot. 3) Make time for it, even if you’re working full-time or looking after children and feel like you have no time for anything: even a little bit of writing every day goes a long way.

Do you have a dream project you'd love to write?

I’m hoping that if I tweet enough about The Archers, one day they’ll invite me to join their script-writing team! I’ve been listening to it since I was about five and still discuss the storylines with my mum as though the characters are real people. So if they’re reading this...

Anything else you’d like to say? Just a huge, heart-felt thank you to all the book bloggers who’ve been such great support and fun friends since I got to know them. Too many to mention by name, but it’s a wonderful community that I feel honoured to be a part of. And of course, Miranda, a very big thank you to you for having me.

Thank you Hannah for such a great interview!

You can follow Hannah on Twitter
@HannahBeckerman, on Facebook HannahBeckermanAuthor and at her website

Hannah’s book, The Dead Wife’s Handbook, is published by Penguin and is out now. You have to read it! The story is achingly beautiful, life affirming and thoroughly unforgettable.

If you’re an author and would like to step into the Coffee & Roses Writer Spotlight, drop me an email: Thanks for reading!
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