Mys­tery solved]

Paula Hawkins, au­thor of the best­selling The Girl on the Train, talks inspiration, com­mutes and gin.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Glamour Book -

Afi­nan­cial jour­nal­ist who gets into fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty – ironic, right? But that was the re­al­ity for Zim­bab­wean­born Lon­doner Paula Hawkins. Paula had worked at The Times news­pa­per in Lon­don and writ­ten books un­der the pseu­do­nym Amy Sil­ver, but her fourth novel, The Re­union (Cor­ner­stone; R223), had run out of steam and she was in a pickle while try­ing to com­plete her next; so much so that she had to bor­row money from her dad.

In sheer des­per­a­tion, she sent off a half-writ­ten man­u­script of The Girl on the Train (Transworld Pub­lish­ers; R185). Not only did her pub­lish­ers pick it up, but she landed a six-fig­ure deal and a movie ver­sion of the book star­ring Emily Blunt (out this month). GLAM­OUR How did you get into writ­ing? PAULA HAWKINS I stud­ied phi­los­o­phy, pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford as I wanted to be a jour­nal­ist, which I was, for 15 years.

I’d al­ways writ­ten fic­tion on the side, but I didn’t have much con­fi­dence as a fic­tion writer. It was only when I was com­mis­sioned to write a ro­man­tic com­edy that I be­gan flex­ing my fic­tion mus­cles. What do you love about writ­ing fic­tion? Writ­ing fic­tion is es­capist, ther­a­peu­tic and in­tel­lec­tu­ally de­mand­ing. What in­spired The Girl on the Train? The idea of wit­ness­ing some­thing from a train was in­spired by my com­mutes around Lon­don. I spent many hours star­ing into peo­ple’s win­dows, hop­ing some­thing in­ter­est­ing might hap­pen (it never did).

The idea for the main char­ac­ter came sep­a­rately, but once I put the el­e­ments to­gether, the po­ten­tial for the story opened up. What’s the novel about? The Girl on the Train is the story of Rachel, a lonely, rather de­pressed com­muter who trav­els into Lon­don ev­ery day. She be­comes fix­ated on a cou­ple whose home she sees from the train, and when the woman goes miss­ing, Rachel be­lieves she may hold the key to the mys­tery. How does it com­pare to your pre­vi­ous ro­man­tic come­dies? It’s quite a bit darker! Will you ex­plore any other gen­res? For the mo­ment, I’m com­fort­able writ­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal thrillers, and I don’t look much far­ther for­ward than the book I’m writ­ing at the mo­ment. But I don’t rule any­thing out. What do you do when you get writer’s block? and I don’t fear the blank page. But I do some­times write my­self into cor­ners and when that hap­pens, I read – of­ten old favourites, which I know will in­spire me. I also go for long walks. Or I lie in the bath – for some rea­son, this is where I of­ten have my best ideas. And oc­ca­sion­ally, I re­sort to gin! Which book is your per­sonal favourite? My favourite movies, mu­sic and books change over time, but at the mo­ment my favourite book is A God In Ru­ins by Kate Atkin­son (Transworld Pub­lish­ers; R185). It’s vis­ceral, finely con­structed and emo­tion­ally dev­as­tat­ing. Then again, I adore all of Kate Atkin­son’s books – I think her Jack­son Brodie lit­er­ary crime nov­els are very close to perfection. What do you do when you’re not writ­ing? Read, hang out with friends, ob­sess about the po­lit­i­cal mess the UK is in and watch soc­cer. I’m quite dull, re­ally.

by Jojo Moyes (Pen­guin; R185)

The se­quel to Jojo Moyes’ heart­break­ing Me Be­fore You (Pen­guin; R185), Af­ter You is set 18 months later and con­tin­ues the story of Louisa Clark as she strug­gles to carry on af­ter the love of her life, the para­plegic Will Traynor, has cho­sen to die by as­sisted sui­cide at a Swiss clinic. It’s an en­joy­able read, but it does feel a bit forced and fans of the first book may wish that Jojo had ended the story there.

Read the lm re­view of on pg 124.

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