I requested this interview because Jaq Hazell’s book, I Came to Find a Girl, really got to me, and I shamelessly used my position as a reviewer to pepper her with questions about it.
About the Author: Jaq Hazell is the author of London Tsunami & Other Stories. She has been shortlisted for The Virginia Prize for Fiction and the Jane Austen Short Story Award. Born near Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, her first full-time job was at Buckingham Palace. She has also worked as a humorous greetings cards designer and a journalist. She lives in London, and occasionally blogs at http://www.jaqhazell.com
Jaq Hazell Author Interview
S&S: Are you a meticulous writer who plans everything out before you begin to write, or someone who writes completed pieces here or there and joins them all together?
JH: I do try to plan, I really do, but it only works up to a point. This novel grew from a short story about a young art student/waitress who was struggling to find her identity. It took me a long time to structure this novel, and I only established where to begin after the first few drafts. I have to set the correct tone before I can continue so that can slow me down.
S&S: After I finished reading your book, it sat like a lump of lead on my chest. I had to talk about it with a fellow book blogger to sort out my thoughts for several minutes before I could even start the review. What’s your response to that?
JH: Oh dear “a lump of lead” – is that a good thing? I laughed nervously at that. I guess it’s good that you’ve had such a strong response. Date-rape is such a serious subject and one that is not covered nearly enough. When I was hawking this book round agents/publishers, I was told by one crime fiction editor at one of the biggies that they weren’t interested in rape. Murder is fine. Murder sells. They were looking for as much murder as possible.
(S&S: I think the lump of lead is definitely a good thing, simply because, as the author states, it is indicative of a strong response. )
S&S: I Came to Find a Girl deals with a heavy subject that isn’t talked nearly enough about in today’s society. Was pushing awareness of date-rape and the consequences something that was consciously on your mind while you were writing it? Or was it just part of the story?
JH: I didn’t plan to write about date-rape, but I was thinking about how we can all find ourselves in situations that can easily go awry through no fault of our own, and it developed from there. Saying that, I recently went to see Margaret Atwood talk at Kew Literary Festival and she talked about the third wave of feminism being about violence. “It’s about women being murdered and raped. It’s more self defense than self assertion.”
S&S: I always list, at the bottom of my reviews, a Trigger Warnings section. For I Came to Find a Girl, that warning will be for Date Rape. Did you have any inkling when you wrote the book that someone would consider it powerful enough to warn people about it if they’d been through/thought they’d been through any sort of sexual assault?
JH: No, I’m pretty fearless whilst I’m writing, but it is something I’ve considered on publication. I think the subject is sensitively handled. I don’t go into any graphic detail as I wouldn’t want to read anything like that myself.
(S&S: To clarify- The situation is handled with sensitivity. The ‘trigger’ is simply that its there. It pulls up memories, emotions, etc, that you may not necessarily be prepared to deal with when you pick up a book for pleasure-reading.)
S&S: Did you ever have another way planned for Flood to die? Or did you know how you’d end him with certainty early on?
JH: I had no idea how Flood had died until I got there. I did research various criminals and I’m sure that’s where the inspiration came from.
S&S: I ‘slept on it’ before writing out the questions I wanted to ask you. The thing that surprises me now in regards to my thoughts concerning I Came to Find a Girl is that the ending doesn’t matter me to me. It was Mia’s journey that does. Would you change anything about that journey now?
JH: No, I think Mia does the best she can and I like her later combative approach.
(S&S: I agree!)
S&S: …and now for some fun stuff. What’s the strangest thing you do when writing?
JH: I walk my small, cat-sized-dog a lot, especially when I have plotting issues.
S&S: What’s your “dirty little secret” book? The one you love but hope no one ever sees you reading?
JH: Well, that’s the beauty of Kindle – no one knows what you’re reading.
(S&S: That’s question avoidance! Bahahaha!)
S&S: Last, but not least: How long would Mia survive in a zombie apocalypse? What would he/she eventually die from?
JH: Mia would kick-ass. I think she has an inner “Tank Girl” and would last more than 28 days. Eventually, she’d die from starvation after consuming all her stolen supplies of dried pasta and tins of tuna.