Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Celebrating Women's Fiction & Thriller Authors at HQ


HQ is the latest division from HarperCollins and it's one that I'm very excited to explore. Rather than sticking to a single genre, their list is an eclectic mix of women's fiction, thrillers, non-fiction and young adult, the theme bringing them all together being books that are written exceptionally well. I've already been hearing great things about them, but it wasn't until their first blogger event last week that I had a chance to meet the team and see some of the fabulous new titles they're bringing out soon – or have just published – with my own eyes.

While the #MeetHQ event was spotlighting some of their most exciting voices in women's fiction and thrillers, there was an awesome mix of books on display that I was instantly drawn to. I mean, just look at the beauties below! Yes, I did stroke the cover of the cookery book within five minutes of arriving (and maaaaaaybe some others too), but can you blame me? 😍



For the first part of the evening we had a chance to chat to fellow attendees (lots of awesome bloggers and bookish folk), Team HQ (some faces I already knew, and some new to me) and the guests of honour: authors Alice Feeney (Sometimes I Lie), Felicity Everett (The People at Number 9), and Sara Alexander (Under a Sardinian Sky). They were all so, so very lovely, and I always find it a privilege to connect with talented authors in such a relaxed and intimate environment. You get a chance to hear about their books and writing first-hand, and there is no advertisement or even fellow blogger gushing that is better than hearing the love for a novel from the person who put blood, sweat and tears into creating it. While some of the genres they write in aren't normally up my street, I was hugely interested in each of the titles after chatting to the authors themselves.



After stocking up on some of the delicious canapes HQ had prepared (from pretty mini cupcakes to strips of chicken, yum! Perfect for dinner as I'd had little to eat that day as I'd been at a work conference) it was time for a sit down hosted by Lucy Richardson, Senior Press Officer of HQ and awesome vlogger at The Book Belle.

To kick-start the panel, the authors were asked to describe their books in a single sentence. Sara said: "A girl becomes woman story set in 1950s Sardinia", Alice described hers as "A book about how if we spend too long pretending who we're not we forget who we are", and Felicity described her novel as "Neighbours from heaven become neighbours from hell." Dun, dun, dun... Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?

What scenes did the authors most enjoy writing? For Sara it was the ones where different worlds collided, Alice said she enjoyed writing the scenes where her character was in a coma because it would scare her, which felt liberating and terrifying at the same time, and Felicity had the most fun with a scene where her character is desperate to keep her background from new friends only to end up at her mother's house where the two worlds collide.

A question that always comes in author panels is whether the writers have any routines or habits they stick to that help them create their books, and the answers are as varied as there are authors in the world. Felicity's writing routine is writing in bed. She said she had the fantasy of a shed in the garden with a wood burning stove, but it didn't quite work out that way. Alice promptly responded: "I've got the shed! I have to write where it's quiet and my writing companion is my dog. Sometimes he snores loudly and I have to adjust him. He also puts his head on my hands when it's time for a break." Sara doesn't work from her bed or a shed, she said that she has to be on the move. She gets on a bike and daydreams for a few days, cooks a lot, and then by the end of the week will sit down for a few hours and it'll all come out. She sets herself weekly deadlines because she's good under pressure.

I also particularly loved the conversation around whether they use real people as an inspiration for the characters in their books, for which answers varied wildly from a resounding 'no' to 'pretty much all of them'. And what if your friends or family members recognise themselves in a character? Do they like it? Sara said: "Being Sardinian they don't tell you, they just won't feed you lunch. So far I'm well fed." 😂 

And what's next for the authors? Felicity is writing "a Gothic novel about sex and existentialism in the countryside", Alice's next venture is about "someone who can't sleep, not because of things they've done but because of things they haven't done", and Sara's current writing project is "about a little town on the Amalfi coast trawling with ghosts of a villa I went to".

Such enticing descriptions, I already can't wait to read all of these!



Thank you so much to my friend Laura for the invite to be her plus one, and to team HQ & authors for the fabulous event. I can't wait to dive into my shiny new books and discover some awesome new voices to fall in love with!


2 comments:

  1. I am so glad you had a brilliant time! I really enjoyed it too :) x

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    Replies
    1. I did, thanks SO much for the invite! :)

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