I have been a Harriet Evans fan ever since I discovered Going Home back in 2007. Since then, I've read every book and I have loved them all. Harriet was born and raised in London, where she still resides today. She started in publishing, working at Penguin, and stayed there for seven years working mainly in women's fiction. That's when she realized that she also wanted to write women's fiction. Harriet began writing in the mornings before work (got a publishing deal!) and after realizing it was getting difficult to keep both working and writing full time, she chose to leave publishing and concentrate on her writing career.
Harriet's latest novel, A Place For Us, is about a woman that decides to tear her family apart and a home built on love and lies. I'm looking forward to diving into this book and enjoying all of the twists, turns, and emotions that Harriet always provides in her stories. I had the chance to ask the bestselling author some questions and to find out what her hidden talents are, so keep reading to find out what she had to say!
Thanks to Gallery Books, we have TWO copies of A Place for Us for some lucky readers in the US and/or Canada!
Visit Harriet at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.
What inspired you to write A Place for Us?
I have a friend called JoJo whom I used to work with and she lives out of town now and I don't see her so much and I miss her. We had a long conversation about families on the phone two years ago and told each other stories about crazy things you hear happening in families that if you put in a novel wouldn't ring true. I'm sure people reading this will relate to that. There are so many weird things that happen to people you know and everyone has one story like that. A jaw dropping moment of 'They never did that!'. I just had this light bulb moment of 'ding!' and realised I wanted to write about a family, coming back for a reunion where the matriarch of the family is going to reveal a big secret, something that will absolutely make your hair stand on end. And I wanted it to be in a home I'd want to live in, a rambling, gorgeous house in the English countryside. Then there's my in-laws' house (Long Copse), in the countryside, which I love. It's a gorgeous house (you can stay there! It's a Bed and Breakfast!) and one of those homes people love coming to. I realised after I'd finished the book that it was inspired by Long Copse, too. So it was these two strands that absolutely made the book spring into life for me - it's rare it happens as easily as that!
Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions when working on a new project?
Not really. I don't talk about it much to people. I need to live with it for a while, let it percolate, like coffee. What I do do is get a nice new notebook for every novel I begin. I write all sorts of ideas in it, most of which never come to fruition.
Which of all your main characters have you felt the most connection to?
I love Elle in Happily Ever After and Cecily in Love Always. In A Place for Us, I feel very close to all the family members as I tried to show a family from everyone's point of view. But especially Florence, the eccentric spinster with a romantic heart: I want to be her when I'm fifty. And Lucy, the granddaughter, who is a bit of a hot mess but warm and kind. Most of all, David and Martha, who are the heads of the Winter family, around whom the story revolves. I just love them, I miss them, and I adored writing their stories.
What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
I like reading! How tragic. I just want to read all the time! I And now that I have a child and I don't go out so much, I really like seeing friends for dinner or drinks. I love the joy of female friendship as you grow older, and how much sheer pleasure I get from seeing old friends and how much fun it is catching up with them.
Ooh, what a great question. I would go back to about 1588 to London to see Elizabeth I and Shakespeare in real life. I would love to see what they were really like and what the city was like.
Do you have any hidden or odd talents?
I have two talents, so you judge if they're odd! One - I am really good at wrapping presents. When I was a junior editor in publishing I used to have to wrap everyone's leaving presents. I love a gift-wrap scenario. It's good we don't have Target in the UK because I would lay waste to their stationery/scrapbooking/ gift wrap aisle in about three seconds. (I just re-read that and it DOES sound odd.) My second talent is karaoke. I frequently need to reality check myself as I can get a bit carried away. I used to do lots of singing at school and had an OKish voice, but now I'm just a wailing mum out on the town who thinks she's Adele or Gladys Knight after one too many margaritas... All I'll say is, if you haven't heard my "Midnight Train to Georgia," you haven't lived.
Thanks to Harriet for visiting with us and to Gallery for sharing her book with our readers.
~Introduction and interview by Melissa Patafio
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US/Canada only. Giveaway ends June 17th at midnight EST.