Today Rachel Hickman, author of One Silver Summer joins us on the blog. Rachel is also co-founder of Chicken House children’s books publishers and is talking to us about her new novel and how different it is being on the ‘other side of the fence’!
Tell us about the inspiration behind One Silver Summer. One Silver Summer was inspired by so many things, some of which I didn’t realise until the book was finished. It’s inspired by my time spent in Cornwall with my family where the weather has its own moods; it’s inspired by the horses I’ve loved my whole life, and a small, badly behaved black terrier at home who came from Dog’s Trust. I grew up abroad so my heroine isn’t English; and Alex is a little like my son in character. First novels are like pockets filled with everything in the author’s head, or certainly, mine is.
The story really reminded me of some of the romance sagas I read when I was a teenager. What books did you enjoy in your teens and how have they influenced your writing? It was inspired by my own love of reading to escape, set in wild and romantic settings. I loved everything by Daphne Du Maurier especially Frenchman’s Creek; Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle, and just about any horse story I could lay my hands on, most especially KM Peyton’s Flambards, or Patricia Leitch’s A Devil to Ride. I would have loved Lauren St John’s novels to read and when my daughter and I were looking for a name for our new young horse, I was unbelievably touched when she suggested we name her Storm.
In One Silver Summer Saskia has recently lost her mother and is going through the painful process of grieving. It must have been difficult to write the moments where she is in turmoil; how did you research this? I’m an overly emotional person who can never hide things well, with a tendency to read too much into almost anything. It wasn’t hard to draw on my own personal stuff: the what ifs, the tough stuff of life that makes you stronger in the end, but hurts so much when it’s happening. Grief isn’t always about death and you can’t get to my age without experiencing it first-hand. I think books can prepare you, or help comfort when it comes.
You’ve worked in children’s publishing for many years. How has your insight into publishing helped you as an author and what advice would you give to anyone in a similar position? I have been shocked at how different it feels on the other side of the fence. I love my job and I get to see the overall picture which is something an author never does. I just want to enjoy the moment, reach readers, and hopefully keep writing if time allows. My work has taught me to temper my authorial expectations and to know that everyone will have an opinion – good or bad, or hmm – on something I wrote from the heart. If you put it out there, you take the rough with the love! Also, my background in publishing tells me that there is an enormous ocean of books for readers to swim in and not all of them will float. It’s nothing to do with what’s good or bad, but opportunity and luck. Publishing is the most glorious random thing; no one really knows what will be ‘the next big thing’!
Are you working on a new project and if so, will it be a similar genre? Or perhaps a sequel! Or maybe even a prequel – I’d love to hear more about Alex’s Grandmother and her secret wartime romance! I have got a sequel in my head, and I would love to write your prequel, but the advice I always give authors is to have something new and different worked out. Right now, I’m deep on Dartmoor in winter with a modern-day highwayman, but I am thinking about taking it younger. See ‘the job’ is poking its nose in after all!
Thank you Rachel for participating today and we wish you every success with
One Silver Summer.