Please tell us a little about yourself.
I live in the middle of Wales in a house that was derelict when we bought it 10 years ago. I’ve spent my life farming and then building – the last 20 years making oak windows and stairs and things.
When did you start writing?
When I was still farming and the children were half grown up, my husband was away working in India for a month and it was the busiest time of the farming year, pre-lambing. I was very run down and developed a boil on my leg which made tractor driving (and everything else) excruciating. Writing was what I started doing to take my mind off the pain and after years of hating whatever I wrote it suddenly started working for me. I’ve been spending far too much time on it ever since.
What genre do you write in and why?
I never know what to think about genre, especially as applied to my own work, but my most recent book, ‘Albi’, happened to be a historical novel. Mostly I write contemporary fiction about ordinary people leading quiet lives, wherever that may be and whatever genre that is.
How important is location in your novels?
Very. Having lived in the Sudan and in Ghana and spent several months in India – and now owning a house in Spain – I’ve had a lot of pleasure writing about other places. When the protagonist is an outsider, as Anne is in ‘In A Foreign Country’, that was fairly straightforward because I could show Ghana through her eyes. With ‘Albi’ it was much more challenging: the main character has lived all his short life in a Spanish village and sees the landscape differently as a result.
Who is your favourite (non Honno) author?
Has to be George Eliot, and the ending of ‘Middlemarch’ about the world going not so ill for you or I because of those ordinary people lying in their forgotten tombs…
Where do you write?
At my cramped desk in the study I share with my husband Nick. I get the window to the front with the pied flycatchers in the ash tree, he gets the window to the back and the green woodpeckers on the grassy bank. Mostly we don’t annoy one another too much.
Who is your favourite character in your books?
Albi. He’s so real to me that when I’m in our village in Spain I can feel him everywhere. That’s been an unexpected delight and I hope he’s still there when we at last get back after covid.
What was your favourite bit of research?
The hours I’ve spent in our Spanish house, which is full of the implements and utensils they were using 80 years ago (we possess three wooden ploughs), and listening and feeling for all those things that would have been the same in the 1930s. It’s a world that has changed a lot in the 20 years we’ve known the village, as the older generation quietly fades away, but the sheep bells still sound all round the village and the shepherds can still be heard calling them the same as they always did.
What do you like most about being published by Honno, an indie press rather than one of the big publishing houses.
The community of writers and the friendship that has come out of being published by Honno. Having the confidence that I’ll be taken seriously with the next book (though as with big publishing houses there’s no guarantee a book will be taken on). And going to the seaside whenever I go to talk to my editor.
And thank you Judith, fellow author, for all the support!
Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/2Xm3ccX ( Albi)
Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/3gdM5CY (In a Foreign Country )
Nice to meet Hilary and read her interesting story. I have lived in South Africa most of my life and I don’t ever want to visit other third world countries. Give me the UK or Europe any day. I am always intrigued by why people chose to live in third world countries when they don’t have too.
Thanks for dropping by, Robbie. Hilary certainly has had an interesting life.
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What an interesting life Hilary has had. Thanks for the introduction to her and her work Judith. ❤
You’re very welcome, Debby. Hilary is a very interesting person. ❤
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Great interview with Hilary, Judith. (I love Albi too – he’s a very real character to me!)
Yes, isn’t Hilary an inspiration, Sara. I loved Albi as well. xx
Fascinating – Hilary’s done so much with her life. I’m quite envious of her view from her study window!
Thanks for dropping by Trish. Hilary is a fascinating person to talk with as well. Yes, it is a lovely view!!