I discovered Hazel's book "Who's Afraid of Mr Wolfe?" recently and enjoyed every minute of it. It was definitely one of the best books that I've ever read. Click here to read my review of this fabulous book.
Spill the beans! Are the characters from your book based upon real people or are they completely fictional?
Good question. As a writer you inevitably store away little observations about people and they find their way into your writing, and that happened with one or two characters in ‘Mr Wolfe’, but no one is based totally on anyone in real life. Edith, for example, has the kind of enthusiasm for life that you normally find in a much younger person and I know a wonderful woman who is now 85 who is like that, but that’s where the similarity ends - she doesn’t play obscene scrabble, dress really badly or have those awful daughters! I also felt I had to be really careful that nobody I have ever worked with thought they’d been used as a model for any of the characters – I still have my freelance advertising career to think of!
Did you create the characters first or the storyline?
I came up with the characters of Jack Wolfe and Ellie first, and although I had a basic idea of how I wanted the plot to develop, once I started writing, the characters sometimes took it in an unexpected direction. I’ve heard people say that before and always thought it sounded a bit weird, but it’s true. I didn’t know Jack was going to run off to New York until I got to that part of the book.
How long did it take you to get your book published?
I managed to get an agent a few weeks after finishing the book, but it was nearly a full year before Quercus offered me a two book deal. During that year I got about 10 rejections and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t get dispiriting, but I write short stories too and had a couple of competition wins that kept my spirits up. It helped too that I talk to a number of other writers on internet forums, so that I was realistic about how much patience and determination you need. If you haven’t got lots of both, you should just write your book and put it under your bed forever.
How did it make you feel?
Completely, utterly, happy. I can’t be cool about it – I was delighted that people were going to read a story that was really precious to me. I’m still delighted about it, particularly when somebody has enjoyed the story and been touched by it.
How much input did you have over the cover and how did you choose it?
My editor at Quercus and I talked over the cover, but it was their basic idea and I was delighted with it - who wouldn’t like to have their name picked out in glitter? I did ask them to change Ellie to make her slightly more curvy though, which they were happy to do.
Where do you write and what is it about that place that inspires you to write?
I’m going to give you a really boring answer to this: I just write at a desk in our spare room at home, which is a light, bright place but there’s nothing really inspiring about it. That doesn’t matter to me - for years I’ve written for a living as an advertising copywriter so I’ve had to produce work for deadlines and haven’t had the luxury of being able to wait for inspiration to arrive. I think as long as you’ve got a comfortable chair, you just put your bottom in it, switch on the computer and inspiration will turn up at some point during the actual process of putting down the words.
Having said that, if I find myself struggling, I get up and go for a walk. I live in Northumberland and the countryside and coastline here is beautiful. It doesn’t take long to find an empty space in which to think and I’ve ‘walked away’ quite a few plot problems like that.
What book are you reading right now?
Holiday’ by Salley Vickers. I interviewed her recently at our local book festival and she was lovely. I read ‘Miss Garnet’s Angel’ a while ago and am now reading her other books. I really admire the elegance of her writing and the way in which she explores deep issues with a light touch and real wit.
Who are your favourite authors?
Ooh, difficult one – I like a lot of different authors, from a lot of different genres and couldn’t care less if something is deemed to be ‘literary’ or ‘popular’. I’ve loved Richmal Crompton who wrote the Just William books since I was little and Jilly Cooper’s early books, which I read as a teenager, ignited my love of romance novels. Other favourites are Dickens, H E Bates, Katherine Mansfield, Maggie O’Farrell, Rose Tremain, John Donne, John Cheever and Primo Levi. Oh and Dorothy Parker, can’t miss her out.
Can you tell us anything about your next book?
Yes, happy to. It’s about an ex-tabloid journalist who arrives in Northumberland pretending he’s going to write a walking book, but in reality he’s there to get friendly with a girl who is the cousin of a big film star – that way he can be first to get the gossip on her love life. When he arrives though, he gets one hell of a shock and what happens next changes his life and a lot of other people’s. Like ‘Mr Wolfe’ it’s got lots of twists and turns, humour and emotion.
What’s next for you?
More short stories: I’ve neglected them recently while I’ve been finishing the second book and I’m also re-visiting a children’s book I’ve written which has been rejected a few times and which I know I need to rewrite somehow!! On top of that I have a mass of different plots for further romances buzzing around my brain. At some point too I’ll need to do some housework…
Thank you so much Hazel for agreeing to answer these questions and let us learn a little more about you and your writing. A massive thank you for providing us with such an entertaining and enjoyable read.
Hazel Osmond lives in Northumberland and is married with two teenage daughters. She has been an advertising copywriter for 20 years. This was her first book with her second one launching later this year. She has also written a number of short stories which have appeared in ‘The Sunday Express Magazine’, ‘The Weekly News’, ‘The Writers’ Forum’, ‘Writing News’ and ‘Woman and Home’. You can read more about Hazel and her work at http://www.hazelosmond.co.uk/.