Saturday, 3 August 2013

Exclusive Interview with Penny Hancock!

I’m delighted to welcome Penny Hancock, author of ‘Tideline’, to my Blog. Tideline is one of my TOP THREE novels so far this year! I was impressed by Penny’s evocative, yet sinister, style and as a big fan of London, I loved the atmospheric writing about the Thames. 

Photo: Penny Hancock
After several years in London, Penny Hancock now lives in Cambridge with her husband and three children. She is a part-time primary school teacher at a speech and language school and has travelled extensively as a language teacher. Her debut novel, Tideline, was a Richard & Judy Bookclub pick.

Story Outline

One winter's afternoon, Sonia opens the door of her beautiful riverside home to fifteen-year-old Jez, the nephew of a family friend. He's come to borrow some music. Sonia invites him in and soon decides that she isn't going to let him leave. As Sonia's desire to keep Jez hidden and protected from the outside world becomes all the more overpowering, she is haunted by memories of an intense teenage relationship, which gradually reveal a terrifying truth. The River House, Sonia's home since childhood, holds secrets within its walls. And outside, on the shores of the Thames, new ones are coming in on the tideline...
Hi Penny

1. How did you settle on the title for 'Tideline'?
It was via an idea my husband had, he’s an artist and quite poetic and thinks in terms of images, so he took the idea of the Thames tide coming in and out and the lines that are crossed in the book and came up with ‘Tidemark’ which sounded a bit grubby somehow !! Another friend suggested  ‘Tideline’.
2. What alternative title(s) did you consider?
‘The River House’ was the original working title, but this had already been used. For a while I thought about ‘Mad About the Boy,’ which is a Dinah Washington song about an older woman infatuated with a young boy on the silver screen. I liked that one but no one else did!!
3. In the reviews and feedback you’ve had for the book – what has surprised you most? 
I think what has surprised me most is the way everyone seems to be able to sympathise with Sonia in spite of the terrible things she does, it’s what I hoped for but I wasn’t sure I’d achieved it. Everyone was also completely taken by surprise by the twist at the end which I was afraid might be obvious all the way through!
4. What's the nicest thing anyone has said about your book?
SJ Watson, author of Before I Go to Sleep, said in answer to a question in an interview about his favourite book of the moment that it was Tideline  as it  ‘blew him away.’ His other favourite book was The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood so I was doubly thrilled- just to be mentioned in the same sentence as such a high calibre writer!!
5. Who is your favourite character in your book(s) and why?
I love Helen in Tideline. She feels so flawed, but means so well, and does not see the really flawed people in front of her! She is a drinker but is under pressure, and she loves her husband and sons but they are all so busy with their own preoccupations she feels isolated. I think I can identify with her the most!!
6. Which author(s) would you invite over for dinner to get to know better?
SJ Watson because he was so nice about Tideline and because he’s a very nice guy anyway from what I know of him! Also, I’d love to sit down and have a long chat to Ian McEwan. I also adore Rose Tremain's writing. 
7. Which one question would you want to make sure you asked them?
How Ian McEwan and SJ Watson manage to get inside the darkest recesses of their characters minds. Ian McEwan did this in his early short stories brilliantly, SJ Watson does it in Before I go to Sleep.
I'd ask Rose Tremain where she gets all her most imaginative ideas from and how she imbues her characters with such fascinating obsessions.
8. What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
9. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
Writing! That sounds pretentious but it’s true, I’m rarely blocked, I tend to write a lot and then have to pare right back rather than the other way round.
10. Which Novel do you wish you'd written?

Most of Rose Tremain’s novels. And I think Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is a perfect combination of beautiful lyrical writing, well observed characters, a dark plot with the perfect twist, and immaculate sense of place.

Thank you, Penny. I can’t wait to get my teeth into your next novel, The Darkening Hour, released 29th August.

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