Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Me having a major fan-girl moment meeting the lovely Hannah at Erskineville Village Anglican Church in August 2018, during her Australian book tour for
The Peacock Summer (Hachette - 2018)
I call her novel The Shadow Year https://www.hachette.com.au/hannah-richell/the-shadow-year the BEST book I have ever read. And for a reader as voracious as I am, that's no small statement. In my opinion, Hannah Richell is the queen of the dual timeline. Her novels effortlessly weave two complex stories together with so many twists and turns, that just when you think you have figured it out...it tears you in another direction. You will often find yourself holding your breath...until she makes you gasp.
It was a blog post that popped up on my Facebook feed back in 2014 https://hannahrichell.wordpress.com/2014/08/03/life-and-death/ that first led me to Hannah, and later to her divine novels. Never had I read such an eloquent narrative on grief. It was raw and the pain seeped from the page, but it was also so full of love and hope and strength, that I needed to find out more about the writer whose words had touched me so deeply.
I devoured The Shadow Year (Hachette - 2013), and then her went back to read her first book, Secrets of the Tides (Hachette - 2012) https://www.hachette.com.au/hannah-richell/secrets-of-the-tides And I was hooked.
Five years later, with Hannah and her children now living back in the UK after the death of her husband Matt, her exquisite novel The Peacock Summer (Hachette - 2018) https://www.hachette.com.au/hannah-richell/the-peacock-summer hit the shelves. The sweeping setting, the elegant prose and the ethereal home Cloudesley had me turning the page, not wanting it to end.
The beautiful old homes in Hannah's novels are just as pivotal a character as the people who reside within their walls. They are the keepers of long-held secrets that are tantalisingly revealed over the course of the novel. In two of her novels it is a key that ultimately brings the truth to light but water also plays a pivotal role in her stories.
In December 2019, I was so lucky to be given an ARC (advance reader copy) of Hannah's brand new novel, The River Home (Hachette - Feb 2020). Hannah creates such strong, visual imagery that you feel like you are there in the room, side by side with the characters. It is another masterpiece. I immediately loaned my precious copy to a friend who after reading it, messaged me to say: 'Wow. Just finished wiping my tears. Such a brilliant writer.'
So without further ado, it is my huge pleasure to introduce you to the amazing Hannah Richell.xx
Q1: What piece of advice do you wish you'd been given when working on your very first manuscript?
A: Don’t overthink it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get your words down on the page. The real work comes after, when you have a first draft to work from.
Q2: If you could have written ANY book besides your own, what would it be?
A: I’d love to have written Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It’s one of my absolute favourite novels, so timeless and beguiling even after all these years. I’m sure du Maurier is responsible for inspiring many contemporary psych-suspense novelists’ careers, which is a genre I particularly enjoy reading. I can’t wait to see how the 2020 Rebecca film adaptation comes out. With Armie Hammer (helloooo!) as Maxim de Winter and Kristin Scott Thomas playing Mrs Danvers I have high hopes.
'My writing space is a desk in a corner of the spare bedroom at home.
The gorgeous Australian bird bunting was a gift from my husband a few years ago, as was the colourful crotchet blanket on the chair. He had very good taste. I have a few meaningful notes and photos dotted around nearby, as well as Henry Miller's '11 Commandments for Writing' and Pixar's 'Rules of Storytelling' printed out and within easy reach, for those sticky moments. I'd like to say I work here all the time, but to be honest, I often find myself drifting back to the kitchen table. For some reason I'm just comfortable writing there, at the heart of the home.'
Q3: What is the first book that made you cry?
A: I’m pretty sure it was Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White. Even just thinking of Wilbur, Charlotte and those final, emotional scenes makes me well-up. It’s such a beautiful, poignant, wise novel about love and friendship, life and death, and one that moved me as a child. I re-read this book with my own children a couple of years ago and it made us all cry.
Q4: Coffee, tea or ? (what is your favourite drink?)
A: Coffee – a strong flat white. Followed by a glass of crisp, dry white wine in the evening.
Q5: What is the next book on your TBR (to be read) pile?
A: My kids gave me Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout for Christmas and it’s next on my pile, as soon as I’ve finished Rosamund Lupton’s gripping Three Hours.
'This funny little house is an ornament from my late Grandmother's home.
It's a model of the house my grandparent's once owned on the Dorset coast and the house that provided the earliest seeds of inspiration for Clifftops, the location of my very first novel, Secrets of the Tides. When my grandmother died, my father gave me this to keep. It's a memento not just of my grandparents and the happy times we spent together as a family at their home, but now also acts as a reminder of how ideas and inspiration can grow and flourish, taking you in surprising new directions, if you let it.'
Q6: Choose one male & one female character from your novel. In a film adaptation, who would you love to see play them?
A: Oh I love this question! There’s nothing better than playing fantasy casting director for your own stories. Ruth Wilson or Keeley Hawes would make a fabulous Kit. As actresses, they can both tread that difficult line of embodying warm, passionate women, as well as showing a more aloof steeliness, when needed. I’d love to see Saoirse Ronan play Margot. Again, I think she’d evoke all the deep complexity and pain Margot carries within, plus I think she’d throw a terrific strop!
Q7: Name one thing you couldn't live without?
A: Unfortunately life has taught me a painful but valuable lesson: that we can survive losing the things and people we think we can’t live without. This lesson makes me live with full gratitude and appreciation for all the good things and people in my life, knowing that one day we will have to say goodbye.
'This is a photo of my cat, Sydney. I resisted getting a pet for a long time but my daughter nagged and nagged and in the end, I crumbled. We got Sydney (named after the city we called home for twelve years) a year ago and she has proved to be the most wonderful writing companion, for those long lonely days at my desk.
I can’t believe I resisted for so long now. I’m a complete convert. Every writer needs a furry friend!'
Q8: What is your dream holiday destination?
A: I’m currently living in the south west of England. I miss all my friends and family in Australia so my dream holiday destinations right now are Sydney and the Mornington Peninsula, places I know well, but always feel so happy to return to. If I can’t go there, I’d head to one of those amazing-looking villas on stilts on a remote island in the Maldives. It’s cold and wintery in the UK at the moment and I think that would be just the thing to warm me up … and chill me out.
Q9: If you had to choose a career besides writer, what would it be?
A: I’d either like to be an Editor, helping writers shape and publish their novels, or perhaps take on a complete career change as a psychotherapist, helping people through traumatic life events.
Q10: Name one debut author/novel you would recommend?
A: I’ve been a judge on the Richell Prize panel for the last five years. It’s been so rewarding to have a small part to play in discovering new Australian writing talent and helping emerging authors to launch their careers. This year two of our past winners will publish their books. Sam Coley’s State Highway One is published on 26 May and is a funny, heartbreaking tale about two siblings taking a road trip through New Zealand after the sudden loss of their parents. Ruth McIver’s dark, twisty thriller, I Shot the Devil, publishes in July and will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. I recommend readers look out for both books later this year. Sorry, I know this is two debut authors but I can’t pick a favourite!
'The river can take you home. But the river can also drag you under...'
'It's something she learned years ago - the hard way - and that she knows she will never forget: even the sweetest fruit will fall and rot into the earth, eventually. No matter how deep you bury the pain, the bones of it will rise up to haunt you ... like the echoes of a summer's night, like the river flowing relentlessly on its course.
Margot Sorrell didn't want to go home. She had spent all her adult life trying not to look behind. But a text from her sister Lucy brought her back to Somerset. 'I need you.'
As Margot, Lucy and their eldest sister, Eve, reunite in the house they grew up in beside the river, the secrets they keep from each other, and from themselves, refuse to stay hidden. A wedding brings them together but long-simmering resentments threaten to tear the family apart. No one could imagine the way this gathering would change them all forever. And through the sorrow they are forced to confront, there is a chance that healing will also come. But only if the truth is told.'
The new novel from bestselling author Hannah Richell. A wise and emotionally powerful story of a broken family and the courage it takes to heal.
Hannah Richell was born in Kent and spent her childhood years in the UK and Canada. She is the author of three previous bestselling novels: Secrets of the Tides, The Shadow Year and The Peacock Summer. Her books have been translated into seventeen languages. Hannah has a background in book and film marketing and has worked in both the UK and Australia on a range of popular entertainment brands. She has also written for media outlets such as Harper's Bazaar, The Australian Women's Weekly, Fairfax and The Independent. Hannah is a dual citizen of Great Britain and Australia and currently lives in the South West of England with her family.
Thank you Hannah for being my March Author Stalker victim. xx
The River Home is available through all leading bookstores and online.
If you would like to find out more about Hannah, you can find her here: