Faith Hogan was born in Ireland. She gained an Honours Degree in English Literature and Psychology from Dublin City University and a Postgraduate from University College, Galway. She has worked as a fashion model, an event’s organizer and in the intellectual disability sector. Her début novel ‘My Husbands Wives’ is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. She is currently working on her next novel. She lives in the West of Ireland with her husband, four children and one fussy cat. She’s a writer, reader, enthusiastic dog walker and reluctant jogger – except of course when it is raining!
A very warm welcome to you Faith, and can I thank you, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us today.
Calum, I'm delighted to be here. I love your blog, it’s featured many a good book and sent me off reading happily as a result of your recommendations!
For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about the part of the world that you are currently resident in and why do you like living there?
I live in the West of Ireland. It is a beautiful part of the world, with the Atlantic blowing fresh and salty on our doorsteps, to the South, we have Croagh Patrick, a perfect peaked mountain that attracts thousands of climbers each year and we are only an hour from the nearest airport which will take us to London, Paris, or somewhere warmer if you’re so inclined. Me? I'm a cold weather person, I actually like the rain and I love the wind – which is probably just as well, since I'm told I live in the wettest part of Europe!
Do you think the books that you read as a child have influenced your writing in any way?
I think every book, good or bad is worth reading. Like every other kid, I grew up with Enid Blyton and her ‘Secret Seven’ books. Later, I moved onto James Herriot, Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple. I did punctuate my reading with books like ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Rebecca’, but I developed a taste for crime from a young age, thanks to those childhood crime solvers and I suppose, for me, every book has to have a little twist, somewhere in the story.
I dabbled in writing crime first, and my début novel, although not crime was born of the question – What If…?
Do you have a set routine when you are working on a novel?
I think every novel is different.
The one thing they all have in common is those first few months. Once you have the idea, it’s very hard to leave it alone. Sometimes great things can be happening in the real world, but still, if I'm starting out, on a first draft, I have a giddy feeling, itching to get back to the computer, it’s there all the time, a growing excitement that the story is taking shape. Generally, I’ll spend a few weeks, tossing ideas around. Then, one day, I’ll sit down and plan – this does not necessarily mean the book will look like the plan! Usually within a week, there are gaping differences between the book and plan. The plan, I think, is to make me feel like I have something to fall back on. The first five thousand words will be written in one sitting, then invariable other things will intrude (like life!), after that, it’s a thousand a day, more if you get a few extra hours at it. When I was working full time and there were no days to devote to the books, it took about a year from start to finish to write, re-write and feel that it was finished.
Where do you do your writing best?
I have a home office. I'm lucky, we live in a house with a lot of rooms and my husband bought me an antique desk when we got married. Since then he’s put in bookshelves and added another desk and chairs to the room. Mostly I write at my desk, with my monitor raised to eye level with a separate keyboard to type. This is to ensure my back is a little straighter than it might be if were slouched over a lap top! If I'm on a roll, planning on hitting the seven thousand words mark, I will sit in an armchair, snuggled with the lap top on my knees and a large bottle of water at my elbow. Bliss!
What helped you decide to actually write a novel?
I’m not sure there was a decision. It was always inevitable. I always wrote. Whether that was bits of poems or C.V.’s for other people or helping people with assignments, whatever, I was the go-to woman to sort out all of these little things for my friends.
I suppose, having people believe in you is the key piece to starting a novel. That and not telling anyone except those people who know you well enough to know that if you set your mind on something…
When you are writing, how do you place yourself into the time period that you are actually writing about?
My books are all set in the present tense, so far. I am working on something that nods towards six decades earlier, but I've always loved history, so looking back at that time was a pleasure. Perhaps, down the road, I may write something properly historical, but I suspect that to do so, would entail a bit more planning than my present day fiction!
How do you go about imagining, developing and give real lives and personalities to the characters that we read about within in your book?
Most of my characters start out with a voice. I tend to hear them say a sentence in my head. It’s probably something I've heard somewhere, without realising its importance and then it will float around somewhere between my ears for a while. The characters each have an accent, but very often how they look will only emerge in the writing. Sometimes, in the plan, I will take photos of people – generally from the internet and keep them in mind. For example, each of the characters in ‘My Husband’s Wives’ has a very recognisable face to me, however for some, I didn't have an iota of what they looked like until well into their characters. Quite often, apart from the main characters, I won’t necessarily know what their motivations are, nor will I know how their story ends, sometimes until the second draft is complete. The simple truth is that I can’t know how they finish up until I actually get to know them inside out and like a real person, that takes time.
Did you encounter any difficulties in getting your book accepted and published?
‘My Husbands Wives’ was a pleasure to write and although it took six months to sell, I actually think it was waiting for the right hands to land in. I couldn’t be happier with the publisher than I am with, Aria Fiction.
On the other hand, if you’re wondering about the journey to publication from day one…
That’s a whole different story!
Let’s just say there were a lot of words written before we got to journey’s end. Lots of people spoken to and lots of nice things said about the writing and waiting, lots of waiting. I’ve been lucky to have a lovely supportive agent who has a tonne of experience and wisdom, but to be honest I still pinch myself when I think about the odds of actually getting here!
Did you have to undertake any research for your novel?
‘My Husband’s Wives’ is a character driven novel. It’s a story about ordinary people making the best they can of an extraordinary situation. Mostly, I went where the story took me, it’s just that sort of book!
What is your favourite book and why?
I’d probably have to say in the last year, I enjoyed ‘Eggshells’, by Catriona Lally. Catriona is a fabulous debut novelist, the book is odd and quirky, and a little off centre, and I think that’s one of the reasons I liked it so much, of course, the writing is lovely too.
Now, ‘The Uncommon Reader’, (Alan Bennet), ‘Death Comes to Pemberly’ (PD James) and ‘Never Mind Miss Fox’ (Olivia Glazebrook) are all more than just diverting as well!
Are you currently reading a book at the moment, and if so what is it?
I am currently writing book three so, I'm working my way through Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’ and thoroughly enjoying it. When I'm editing I could be reading up on four books at a time, but usually when I am writing it’s something like a ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book or anything along those lines, I just got caught out this time!
Do you have any other hobbies or interests that you enjoy in order to give you a break from your normal routine and your writing?
Did I mention that I like to read?
I also have four children, one husband and a demanding cat!
But, I walk every day, sometimes I jog. I love a good film, currently going through a Netflix phase. I'm not a great television viewer, but I’ll make sure I catch anything worth seeing. I loved Dr Foster and wouldn't miss a Sherlock episode!
And I have a bit of a shoe addiction… but that’s a whole other story!
Apart from that there’s a parents association, the transporting of children to various activities and clubs.
Can you give us a hint about any other books that you may have in the making at the moment?
I have the follow up to ‘My Husband’s Wives’ well on the way. I'm not sure exactly how to describe it, just to say that it’s a story about finding what you’re looking for in the last place you’d ever expect. Its set in a seaside village, so it’s a summer read, and there are nods back to the nineteen sixties in it – and the most important thing, I absolutely love it!
Would you have any particular advice for ‘would be’ novelists?
Before I signed with my Agent and then my book deal, I always wanted to know if there was some magic ingredient to getting published. I mean, we've all read books and thought, ‘I could do that,’ right? Well, here’s the thing, it is about the writing, but that doesn't always cut it, sometimes it’s about timing and it’s always about perseverance. So, if you’re reading this and thinking of giving up, I would encourage you to just keep going for one more day, and then maybe another, and another…
It’s more worth it than you can imagine!
Faith, I have been absolutely delighted and very honoured that you agreed to be interviewed for my literary site. I would also like to thank-you again for taking the time to speak to us today.
It was my pleasure, I’ll continue to follow your blog with interest, and keep the good books coming! And, of course, thanks for letting me talk about ‘My Husband’s Wives’!
If you would like to find out more about Faith and her writing, the link to her website is given below:
Paul Starr, Ireland's leading cardiologist dies in a car crash with a pregnant young women by his side.
United in their grief and the love of one man, four women are thrown together in an attempt to come to terms with life after Paul. They soon realise they never really knew him at all.
The love they shared for Paul in his life and which incensed a feeling of mistrust and dislike for each other, in his death turns into the very thing that bonds them and their children to each other, forever.
As they begin to form unlikely friendships, Paul's death proves to be the catalyst that enables them to become the people they always wanted to be.