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Ten in Ten with Author Hazel Gaynor of The Girl Who Came Home

The Girl Who Came Home
William Morrow

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic—a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

Ireland, 1912. Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.

Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harbored for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

On the latest release:

Name of the main character:

Maggie Murphy

What my main character does that I wish I could do. She reads beautiful, thoughtful, hand written letters from her sweetheart. I get the occasional text message from my husband asking whether he needs to pick up milk on the way home. It’s not quite as romantic!

Something my main character would never do.

Give up. She is a tough young woman and carries that determination and survivor instinct with her into old age. The older Maggie is very much based on my Grandma Daisy. Women of past generations have lived through some incredibly difficult times and are an inspiration.

What my main character would say about me (the author).

She would probably say that far too much coffee (and wine) went into the creation of this novel. I also hope she would say that I have done justice to the events surrounding Titanic and to the memory of all those who sailed on her, and to those they left behind. If I have done that, I can be happy.

What my main character would say I do that embarrasses her.

I suspect she would say that I talk about her relationship with Séamus too much. Maggie is a very private person and I’m sure she would be mortified to think that I have splashed her most intimate thoughts – and those of her sweetheart – all over the pages of a book. I can only apologise and reassure her that I have done this in the firm belief that people will love reading her words and discovering her story.

On Writing and the Author:

What Hazel Gaynor does:

I am a writer and mum, living in Ireland.

Why she likes it:

I left a fifteen-year corporate career in 2009 after redundancy, and took the opportunity to stay at home to look after my two young children. From the start, I knew I wanted to do something as a second-career and I started writing a parenting blog. This led to writing freelance, which led to my ultimate dream of writing novels. It took five years to get published and I am so excited about the release of my debut – especially to see it published in the US. From a period of huge uncertainty and adjustment, I consider myself very lucky to be doing a job I adore and which also gives me time with my family.

Inspiration comes from:

The past. I am drawn to the people, events and stories from history – it fascinates me. My first two novels are set in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras, but there are many other fascinating periods and people from history that I can’t wait to explore in future novels. The ideas just keep coming and I’m eager to get writing them down.

If not writing, then what?

Wishing I was writing! A writer never really leaves the desk – conspicuous uncoupling from your characters is not easy! When we are on a family walk in the mountains, I often find myself day dreaming, playing out scenes in my head or picking my plot apart. Something as simple as lunch in an 18th century pub can spark a new idea. I do try to switch off – but it’s hard. Thankfully, my children and their priorities are a great distraction – there’s a lot of inner peace to be found in building a Lego house.

What's next?

My second novel, DAUGHTERS OF THE FLOWERS, is scheduled for release in early 2015. This novel tells the story of two sets of sisters and is set around a charity for orphaned flower sellers in Victorian London. The story spans several decades across the late 1800s and early 1900s. I love the Victorian and Edwardian eras and the streets of Victorian London were a wonderfully haunting place to explore in my imagination.