How I Write – Faith Hogan

Faith Hogan is the author of two novels. Her debut novel, My Husband’s Wives has just been released to bookstores. Her follow up novel Secrets We Keep is available to download in digital. She is published by Head of Zeus and lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, four children and a very fussy cat.

At what age did you realise writing was going to mean something in your life?
I grew up with my mother telling us great stories. My childhood was filled with stories of singing geese and lost piglets! We had a bookcase before we had a colour television. So I suppose, it was inevitable that we would all end up being readers. Like every other writer out there, I dared to dream the dream before I ever imagined it could be a reality. When I look back, I probably spent too much time thinking of the odds against, rather than the chances of it happening. I remember, speaking to my agent, after she’d agreed to take me on and she told me about the sheer volume of manuscripts she receives per week and of those she takes on at most, one or two a year, some years she hasn’t taken on any at all. It’s a bit of a miracle to be pulled from the pile!

Is writing an addiction?
Not at all – addictions are terrible things!! Writing is pure unadulterated pleasure and you can’t over dose on it, nor does it give you a hangover. In saying all that, if I’m in the throes of something, and I can’t get near my desk, I do get a little angsty!

What is your writing routine? Do you write every day?
In theory, yes – I write every day. Certainly, I sit in front of my computer every day! The few weeks in the run up to the Irish publication of My Husband’s Wives have been a bit consumed by the whole getting ready for it to land frenzy and prior to that, I’ve been editing book three like a demon. I started another book, a few months back, but I’m afraid, it’s like a paradise lost for now – in saying that, I’m having fun and as long as you’re doing that, isn’t it grand?

You have worked in a number of roles throughout your life. How have these experiences lent themselves to your writing or storylines?
My books are about real life – I couldn’t write them if I wasn’t out in the world. I’ve learned something from every job I’ve had. Sometimes, I’ve taken work as a ‘stepping stone,’ into something else, but the funny thing about stepping stones is that you can become quite fond of them and the destination is not nearly so nice as the journey. I decided a long time ago, that I wanted to live in the west of Ireland, it’s inspiring, it’s where I come from and I know it’s where I belong, nowhere else is home. So, after a few years in stints in the big smoke and flitting about as a manager with Penny’s – I was lucky enough to fall into work that I love, first in our local festival and eventually into disability and mental health services.

Tell us how you came to be published with Aria at Head of Zeus?
I think most writers will tell you that actually getting a book deal is one of the most amazing experiences. For me, it came when I least expected it. I had set my heart on writing crime fiction and although the feedback was positive, it was ultimately always a case of ‘much to admire, but we have invested heavily in something similar.’ Then my agent, who discovered Lisa Jewell and Trisha Ashley, suggested I have a stab at Women’s Fiction. She floated my book with a few houses, but came back with two looking at it at the same time. She was very enthusiastic about Aria having worked with the publisher before. She felt we would be a good fit – she’s very wise! When I look back now, she was selling them to me – and really, I was a done deal – I loved the sound of Head of Zeus and the more I dealt with the publisher, the more I liked her too.

Can you explain the difference between digital publishing and the traditional model? Is it difficult to transition from digital to being available throughout bookstores – was it always your hope that this would happen?
Gosh – I’d never really considered that there was much of a difference, because to be honest, I had always loved books. In 2012, everyone in publishing was reading on Kindle, best sellers were being made over night, and I was advised to start reading digital, just to inform in terms of format and possibilities. I have to say, I’ve loved being published in digital, it opened me up to a whole new world. I think I plunged in at the deep end, embraced social media and I’ve met the loveliest of readers and reviewers as a result.

The downside is that when people in the ‘real’ world ask about the book, it seems illusory! So, you’re trying to explain to people that it’s not on a page, but rather that if they’d like to read it the only way to get their hands on it is to download. I know people who read it on their phones – I will be eternally grateful to them! With the book – the physical copy – I have to admit, I was so excited when the publisher mentioned that it would be in shops this year. Knowing that people can walk into a book shop and pick up your story is truly the most magical feeling when you’re a writer!

Tell us about your novel My Husband’s Wives and what inspired it?
I did mention that I dabbled in crime? Well, once it was suggested that I try something different it took a while for me to settle on what that would be. There were two things that got the ball rolling, the first, I sat and wondered, what if? What if your whole world were to change with a knock on the door? And. What if turned out that the most important person in the world was not who you thought he was?

The idea that we all have notions about who other people are intrigued me. Particularly people who are just a little removed from us, so a partner’s ex-girlfriend can be a she-devil in our minds, but the reality is, if we met them in different circumstances we could be best of friends. The other catalyst to the book was a character called Annalise – she arrived on the page, fully formed and filled with gusto! She gave me no choice – I had to write about her!

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
No – I’m very happy to say, the only block to my writing is getting the time – I have a thing called life going on twenty four seven!

What do you like to read? Who would you cite as your biggest influences?
I’m currently reading Joanna Cannon – The Trouble With Goats And Sheep and loving it! I grew up on Enid Blyton – hence the love of whodunnits. As a teenager l adored Ivanhoe, he was my Mr Darcy. Of course, I loved Jane Austen too, but then doesn’t everyone? There are so many great writers out there and I read anyone from Alan Bennett to Wilkie Collins. In terms of influence, I’m not sure, but I certainly admire Anne Tyler and Kate Atkinson. I think we’re swayed by everything we read and that’s why it’s so important to read widely and well because there’s learning in all of it.

Where do you write?
My little nest is at the top of the house. I sit under a window that faces the sky and in a chair that’s as old as my grandmother. I look at a wall, filled with children’s artwork, inspirational quotes and runners that remind me to stay on track with the general theme of what I’m writing. For first drafts, I tend to sink into a deep armchair in the corner, with a coffee table beside me for my caffeine fix. For me, it’s an escape and sometimes, I think it is very peculiar that the words I’ve tip tapped onto the screen have travelled around the world long after I’ve typed ‘the end.’

 

Find out more about Faith at her website www.faithhogan.com or follow her on twitter @gerhogan

 

 LadyNicci comment: Faith has a great excitement for her writing – her enthusiasm to embrace everything that has come to her and all that goes with it is refreshing and honest. When you’ve dreamed of being a writer as a child, as you work your way through a career and studies of different jobs and professions and finally reach your goal and become published, how could you be anything but excited? I agree with Faith in that working and living life lends itself to your writing – I’ve always felt personally that I wouldn’t be able to complete a novel until my thirties and I had some life experience under my belt. Her cross over from digital to traditional is a path many writers are choosing and hoping to go down – it can be difficult to explain to readers however, who may only have ever encountered a book in a real life bookshop, how the model works. I look forward to reading my Husband’s Wives and it’s great that the sequel is available for download straight after too!

How I write is a blog post series published on  www.ladynicci.com  exploring the craft of writing. If you have any comments please email nicola.press@gmail.com with How I Write in the subject line.

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