The Who, What, When, Where and Why with Hilary Boyd

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By Jade Craddock

Hilary Boyd had her first novel published in her sixties and has gone from strength to strength. This month she publishes her eighth individual novel, The Anniversary, and has kindly stopped by to answer our who, what, when, where and why.♥

1. Who has been the most important person in your writing journey?

My husband, Don, no question. I don’t think I’d ever have written if I hadn’t met him. I’ve read obsessively all my life. But it never occurred to me that I could write too – I come from a family of solid professionals, no whiff of a crazy artist in my genes. He’s one such crazy artist – a film director/producer – and the sort of man who’ll turn his hand to any creative project, writing included. And whereas I didn’t see how I could write, he didn’t see why I couldn’t.

Now, since my first published book, aged 61, I’m on a roll. Don and I endlessly discuss plots and characters – I get the male perspective from him, for instance – we angst about agents and publishers, social media and reviews… Argh! Writing can be a lonely business, but we’re in it together.

2. What motivates you to write?

Stories. I just love a good yarn. I love asking myself, ‘What would I do in that situation?’ when someone tells me about a problem in their lives. It’s so gripping, the emotional roller-coaster we all seem to be on, and my books are very much character-driven, I’m fascinated by what makes us tick. And I’m also a soppy romantic. Love really does make the world go round and I’m hell-bent on proving it.

3. When did you first start writing?

I was at university in my late thirties, doing an English degree, that I first got the idea. One of the profs kept telling me that I wrote well, even if the content of my essays didn’t always measure up! And I realised I loved the actual construction of a sentence, the process of writing.

It was a long journey from there. I wrote non-fiction first, on health-related subjects, because of my nursing background. The novels, all unpublished at that point, were snuck in on the side – I never told anyone outside my family. But it’s so much easier to write fiction than non-fiction – you make it up as you go along.

4. Where do you write?

I have a lovely, light room up in the eaves of our house. Don is across the patio in his office, so we can’t hear each other think – which is very important for our sanity. I look out onto the road through the village, so I can watch the world go by in idle moments – currently it’s massive low-loaders with great square towers of hay trundling past at nerve-wracking speed. My desk is neat, I panic at mess, but around the room are books – including such as the Latvian translation of Thursdays In The Park by Hilarÿa Boida! – my grandchildren’s drawings and photos of the family.  It’s quiet, but really cosy – and the stairs up from the ground floor keep my heart ticking over. I love coming up here and settling down, knowing I’ve got all day to write.

5. Why did you write this book?

This idea was the subject of the first novel I ever wrote, twenty years ago – and never published. A version of the tragic past event in the book actually happened to someone we knew. But I also wanted to explore the notion that if you properly love someone once, you can maybe love them again, years down the line.

I think a lot of couples these days find their marriages crumbling because being married and faithful, bringing up small children, working all hours God sends to pay the mortgage, is very, very difficult. They split up because they can’t see the wood for the trees – the love for the life struggles. But those struggles fall away as you get older – there must be some advantages, eh? And maybe then, given the right circumstances, love can blossom again.

Hilary Boyd was a nurse, marriage counsellor and ran a small cancer-nutrition charity before becoming an author. She has written five non-fiction books and eight novels, including Thursdays in the Park, her debut, which sold over half a million copies and was an international bestseller.

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