About Hazel Buchanan:
I make my living teaching music, from which I derive a great deal of pleasure. I am an oboist, and for me there is no greater buzz than playing beautiful, rousing music from the heart of a Symphony Orchestra; except, that is, for the buzz of writing a novel. Writing is my passion.
I grew up in the south east of England and emigrated to Australia after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Bristol. I live in the mountains of northern New South Wales with my husband and the youngest of our three sons. Raising our children has undoubtedly been my most important achievement. Writing and publishing Surviving Anna comes a close second.
As well as teaching woodwind, I run the local Shotokan Karate club and administer my husband’s furniture making business. I write mostly at weekends and in the school holidays. I have also been known to squeeze in a bit of editing while waiting for a student to turn up and during orchestral rehearsals when I am not required for a particular piece. Essentially, I write whenever I can find enough headspace and time.
What inspires you to write?
My debut novel was inspired by a tragic incident that I heard of when I was five years old. The story affected me deeply and the questions it brought up remained unanswered as I grew up. It was my ongoing need to understand what had happened that prompted me to write my own fictional version of the tragedy and how it changed the survivors’ lives. Surviving Anna is the result.
More generally, books have been a central part of my life for as long as I can remember. From early childhood, I knew I wanted to be a published author more than anything. That feeling has never changed, but I guess it has taken me longer to realize the dream than I would have liked. Life has a tendency of getting in the way.
The aim of my writing is to encourage readers to question, as much as it is to entertain. I am passionate about social justice and fascinated by what makes people tick.
Tell us about your writing process.
For me, it is important to create a timeline as I write in order to maintain continuity in the story. I start with a very rough outline of the plot and add to it as I go. I find the plot inevitably changes, as I get deeper into the story and follow the leads that arise. I start with outline sketches of the protagonists. These develop far more fully as I write and the characters begin to interact with each other. I write on a laptop but outlines work better for me on paper, so I start out with a notebook.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I imagine each action scene as if I am watching a movie. I am a very down-to-earth person and one of the most surprising aspects for me of writing my first novel was discovering that the characters I had ‘invented’ were becoming the directors of their own destiny. I would not have believed it possible until I experienced my own ficitonal characters ‘coming to life’.
What advice would you give other writers?
Character development is absolutely critical to creating a believable story. You can never know too much about the people whose stories you are striving to tell.
When the process of writing or getting published becomes overwhelmingly difficult, it is okay to take a step back and leave it for a while.
When you are at the stage of doubting your own ability (and probably your sanity), think of all those authors out there who have managed to publish books that are really not a patch on yours, and refuse to give up!
When you finally get to the point of believing your manuscript is finished, put it away for a couple of months. Coming back to it fresh will give you some surprisingly useful insights.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
As a new writer of literary fiction with no established credentials and no contacts in the industry, finding a publisher was an almost impossible task. My eldest son who has an Amazon retail business encouraged me to self-publish on Amazon as a starting point. My youngest son designed the cover for Surviving Anna. The hardest part of the self-publishing process has undoubtedly been marketing. But, as with anything in life, the more effort you put into achieving your goal, the greater the rewards. I have written extensively about the self-publishing process in my blog.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I believe the current trend for non-fiction books, particularly of the self-help and lifestyle variety, will decline over the next few years, allowing story-telling to make the comeback it deserves.
What genres do you write?: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.