With the final part of “The Haunting of Hattie Hastings” trilogy published, I caught up with author Audrey Davis in Switzerland. I am really looking forward to meeting my ‘virtual friend’ in September for our writers’ workshop which I am organising here in Tuscany. But, in the meantime, we continued our virtual chat.
Now that all three parts of HH are published, what are you working on at the moment, Audrey?
Well, I have written a distinctly underwhelming 1K words or so of my WIP. It was originally titled ‘Untitled Project’ but has progressed to ‘Never Too Late.’ Which could also apply to me, having published my debut novel at the tender age of 53. Now, with five books to my name, I wish I could be lying back on a sun-kissed beach, sipping cocktails and watching the royalties pour in. Sadly, my income at present is less champagne and caviar, more cheap Prosecco and a round of toast. Still, nobody said it would be easy. I had the idea some time ago of a book about an ‘older’ lady who makes a shock announcement ahead of her 50th wedding anniversary. From there, we see flashbacks of her life, and she ends up house sharing with a much younger woman. They learn from each other and form a bond, despite family opposition. I was disheartened when I saw a similar story arc for an upcoming book, but will persevere as everyone has their own way of telling a story. I also have a possible plot involving a bunch of people on a WhatsApp group chat, with the idea of it being a kind of thriller. But I’m not sure that’s my strength, and I believe there’s a market today for books with characters in their 70s and beyond.
I shouldn’t worry about seeing the similar story arc. We all have different voices and, in any case, there are only seven types of story anyway. You have a special style and you always make me laugh.
How far in advance do you know what you’re going to write? Are you a plotter of a pantser?
As I said, ideas have come to me but largely lain dormant in the build-up to publishing Hattie Part Three. I am definitely a ‘pantser’ but hope to at least lay down a clear timeline and well-developed character profiles this time. With Hattie I tended to write and write, then realise I’d messed up and have to go back and make painful corrections.
Do you always write humour?
So far, yes. If you speak to any of my friends, they’ll tell you I’m something of the class clown. Always looking for a witty retort or one-liner. I am essentially a bit of an introvert, very happy to be on my own either reading or writing. When I feel a bit overwhelmed at a social event, I use humour as a defence mechanism. I love reading dark, twisty thrillers but not sure I could ever write one!
Have a go! “Nothing ventured…” Has living in Switzerland helped or hindered you as a writer? I love the photograph of your writing place. How distracting is that view!
It’s a beautiful country with an amazing climate (although I’m not really a snow bunny, much preferring the long, hot summers and the amazing thunderstorms). However, I wish I could participate more in UK-based writers’ events and do feel a bit isolated at times. I went to a reader/writer meet-up in Leeds last March through a Facebook group and felt so energised and loved. People were screaming, ‘It’s Audrey! From Switzerland!’ and it was so nice to meet them in real life. I got ridiculously excited recently when I discovered there was an another author – of YA fiction – living in the same, tiny village as me. We arranged to meet for coffee and I duly sat down and ordered, unsure what this person looked like. A girl, who appeared around eighteen, nervously approached me and – yes – it was Rosie. Actually twenty four, which made me feel ancient (the same age as my son). However, we got on like a house on fire and will definitely meet up again. I am considering getting a base back in the UK where I could spend three or so months a year, both to be closer to my two boys, and to engage more with the writing community. I can only be grateful for social media – FB and Twitter in particular – for enabling me to connect with like-minded people and build my profile a little.
I agree with so much of what you say. I live for six months in Tuscany – which is idyllic. We have only been able to use internet properly for a couple of years. Before that, I had to use a dongle and park up in a layby on the mountain (getting dodgy looks) to find a strong enough signal. Being able to connect with other authors on line has made such a difference to me. I wouldn’t have met you, would I?
Good luck with your next project and also for the publication of the third part of HATTIE HASTINGS. Readers, you can buy it here
I have enjoyed all three instalments of HATTIE HASTINGS, and here is my honest REVIEW:
In her acknowledgments, the author describes her book as “A journey into the unknown – and the afterlife…” and although I laughed out loud in parts, I also found Audrey Davis’s book thought provoking.
We don’t like to talk about death, do we? As if to deny it’s going to happen. But, of course we all know death is the one certain thing about our lives. Inescapable, despite whacky experiments like cryopreservation that crop up from time to time. Apparently, there are thousands of cadavers frozen at -196 degrees C, in the hope of resuscitation and restoration to life and full health in the far future. But I digress.
Should we take Audrey’s book seriously? The idea a dearly loved, departed husband returns to help his wife and friends along? I think we should. We can cry about death, but we can laugh too. It’s both a serious and funny business.
The “Next Realm”, it seems, is a friendlier, more sociable place”, where there are bouncy castles, friends are friends forever and even flatulence doesn’t matter anymore. I love the way Davis attempts to fathom the “ins and outs of the afterlife”. Basically, nobody knows ,in all honesty, what is going to happen to us when we pop our clogs, so why not have a humorous stab at it?
The more serious moments, “grief is something you can drown in, or rise above and learn from,” and comments such as “if I can accept that ghosts exist, I can believe in just about anything,” are followed by down-to-earth silliness. When Hattie realises she’s not going to be able to rely on the appearance of her “rock”, her deceased ghostly husband, she says, “we never got to go on a cruise.”
Her ghostly husband, now flickering on and off out of focus, replies, “… you know you get seasick on a pedalo.”
These exchanges and countless others are endearing, laugh-out-loud, stand-up comedy which soften the basically morbid subject of death.
Once again, I chuckled throughout this book. I wrote about the author’s convincing characterisation in my other reviews, so I won’t repeat myself here. I’d have given it five stars, but I still maintain the three parts should be in one volume, not standalones. I found it irksome to have to refer back to Parts 1 and 2 to remind myself of events and characters. So, a worthy four stars it is.
I love this author’s look on life and look forward to her next creations.