Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Q&A with Hannah Beckerman

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       This week I'm very honored to have Hannah Beckerman on the blog. Her debut novel The Dead Wife's Handbook is published on Thursday and I finished this brilliant book today and will post the review on Thursday. For now you can read Hannah's answers on my question. Thank you hun, and a big thank you also to Katie Sheldrake xxx.

      Hannah Beckerman is a TV and film producer living in London. The Dead Wife's Handbook is her first novel. Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannahbeckerman and follow the hashtag #deathwifeshandbook for more information. 


      1. Did you always dream of being a writer?

It was definitely something I was interested in from an early age - along with wanting to be a ballerina, an actress and a concert flautist! But now I am a writer it feels strangely both like a dream come true and yet entirely natural at the same time.

2. The Dead Wife’s Handbook is your debut novel, how does that feel?

The Dead Wife’s Handbook is my first published book, but I’ve plenty of half-finished manuscripts that I’ve written over the past fifteen years. It’s amazing to finally have a book - a real, tangible book I can actually hold! - with my name on it. That’s definitely one of my big life ambitions ticked off the list.
3. How did the story and the characters of this story develop?

The story evolved from a conversation with a friend about her ex-husband and how she felt uncomfortable about the possibility of him telling his new partner her secrets. I started thinking about how that probably makes many of us feel uncomfortable and that the most extreme version of that would be if you were dead and powerless to intervene, but nonetheless privy to some of those conversations. And the idea developed from there.

4. The design of the cover is absolutely beautiful, who designed it?

A fantastic designer called Kate Forrester. She’s done some amazing work - you can see it all on her website: http://www.kateforrester.co.uk/

5. When you’re not writing what do you enjoy most?

Reading - of course! Pre-parenthood I loved travel and movies and hiking up mountains. Now life’s about different kinds of pleasures: taking the little one to the park and our local urban zoo - and reading a LOT of books with her, of course.

6. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what 3 books would you want with you?

 - American Pastoral by Philip Roth.
 - The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
 - The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
 All by men, I know! But Roth is one of my favourite all-time writers and the other two I read in my early teens and they were instrumental in me falling in love with literature so I’d have to take them with me.

7. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Editing, for sure. I’m a slightly crazy perfectionist so this book went through nineteen drafts before it was even copy-edited (so probably about twenty-two in total). And I’d still like to have had one more chance to read it through before it was finalised!

      8. Where do you write your stories?

I have a study where I write which has a big old wooden desk and a huge window so I have something to look at during those moments of procrastination.

      9. How would you describe your style of writing?

Oh, that’s a hard one. I hope it feels emotionally honest but beyond that I suppose I’d like it to be an engaging, moving, thought-provoking read.

10. What does your family think about you being a writer?

My mum is rather proud as you can imagine. And my husband is incredibly supportive: he’s had to do a lot of weekends of solo childcare in order for me to finish the book and so without it him just wouldn’t ever have been done.
11. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love having another world running inside my head alongside the real world and figuring out entire backstories of each of my characters so I understand exactly why they behave in the way they do.

12. What do you think makes a good story?

Authenticity of some sort: it could be emotional authenticity or historical authenticity or in sci-fi or fantasy, a world that feels authentic to the reader.

13. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Before I had a child it was sitting at my desk from very early (6am) until dinner time (6pm or 7pm). Now it’s about grabbing time whenever I can: sometimes a couple of hours very early morning before my daughter wakes up, a couple of hours at lunchtime while she naps and I always write one day every weekend while my husband looks after her. So now instead of being able to be at my desk for 12 hour stretches it’s about grabbing an hour here and there wherever I can.

14. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

I think names are really important. Naming characters is a bit like naming your child: it has to feel that it suits them and to me the rhythm of names is definitely very important. I think it’s also about associations you have with names: you generally don’t want to name a character you love after someone who was mean to you at school!

15. Coffee or tea? Coffee

16. Paperback or e-reader? Paperback

17.  Mountains or the sea? Mountains

18. Summer or winter? Autumn!

19. Sweet or salty? I refuse to have to choose - I WILL have both!

How would you like to be remembered? - The Death Wife's Handbook is out February 13, check out this wonderful video:

The blurb:

'Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.'

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life - until the night Rachel's heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can't forget her, Rachel can't quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she's lost and the life she'll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.

Hannah Beckerman gives an unforgettable exploration of love and loss in her first novel, The Dead Wife's Handbook.

Hannah's website: www.hannahbeckerman.com

Thank you Hannah and Katie :)

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