I love catching up with other writers and having a good chat about the writing life, their novels, and some of their inspirations. Recently, I had the chance to have just such a conversation with Faith Hogan author of My Husband's Wives and the newly released Secrets We Keep.
Let's start with a quick bio and an extract from Secrets We Keep, and then we'll jump straight into the Q&A.
Faith Hogan is an Irish writer who has worked as a fashion model, event organiser, in the intellectual disability and mental health sector, and (thank goodness) is now a published author as well! Faith's debut novel, My Husband's Wives is a contemporary women’s fiction novel set in Dublin. It was published by Aria, (Head of Zeus) in 2016. Secrets We Keep, released on February 1st is a bittersweet story of love, loss and life set in the sleepy village of Ballytokeep.
Here's a little something to whet the appetite...
Extract from Secrets We Keep by Faith Hogan
‘I’ve never seen anything like it,’ Kate said. It was her first thought as they turned down the cove and saw the bathhouse snuggled into the cliff face. It was a turreted, stocky grown-ups sandcastle. ‘It could have been emptied from a child’s bucket,’ was her first reaction. It had been painted, white with a light blue trim once, then the waves and the spray had all but washed that away. It still sat proudly, if shabbily, on a huge flat rock, that upturned in a lip over the sea. It was a plate, large enough for any giant.
‘Genesis Rock – it’s a metamorphic rock, probably over a thousand million years old,’ Rita said. ‘Sorry, did I mention I taught geography and home economics, once upon a time.’
‘No, but I probably should have guessed.’
‘I don’t remember the bathhouse even being open. I could imagine that I’d have spent all my days here if I had.’ Rita looked at the washed white walls that reached high into the cliff face.
‘Well, Archie said they ran it for a few years, but he didn’t say when it shut.’ This place probably held sadness for Archie, if his brother died here. Kate couldn’t feel it. Instead, it made her feel energized, as though the sea was spraying something like an invitation deep into her lungs. It made her heart pound with an expectation she hadn’t felt in years. Even the deserted castle keep that loomed up in grey stone at the tip of the headland seemed to carry a hopeful secret in its towers.
‘It must have been lovely once. Even now, you can see.’ Rita rested her hands on the thick window ledge, her nose pressed firmly to the cold glass of the windows. ‘It looks like they just closed up one evening and never came back.’
Kate walked to the back of the bathhouse; it dug into the cliff face, as though the construction of one depended on the other. Alongside the building, a small narrow road clung to the cliff for a couple of hundred yards before it feathered off onto what counted as a main road in these parts. Far below, the waves lapped serenely against the stone. It was low tide now; Kate wondered how close the water actually came to the rock. ‘I’d love to get a look inside.’ Rita followed her round to the front of the bathhouse. They peered through a sea sprayed window for a few minutes. Inside, Kate could see there were tables and chairs, a small stove and an old-fashioned counter where once someone had taken orders for afternoon tea. ‘It’s a little café, wouldn’t it be lovely if it was open for coffee?’ Kate mused, it was so much more than just a bathhouse.
Tempted? Here's a list of places to buy Secrets We Keep
And now it's chat time!
Q&A with Faith Hogan
Patricia: I thoroughly enjoyed reading My Husband's Wives and am already loving your second novel Secrets We Keep.
Faith: First off, thanks for having me on your blog Patricia, it’s a real treasure trove and I’m so glad you enjoyed the books!
Patricia: For the uninitiated, Faith, what is Women's Fiction? Is it much different from Men's Fiction? (is there even a genre called Men's Fiction)
Faith: I’m not so sure about the Men’s Fiction – certainly, in my house it’s all about golfing manuals – so I’m sure that doesn’t count.
But women’s fiction – now there’s a whole other matter. I think Women’s Fiction has changed. For too long it was considered the lowbrow end of the publishing spectrum. The last decade has seen a huge shift. First off, what we read as women has changed. There is no doubting the fact that women between the ages of thirty and fifty do the lion’s share of the reading today – but our tastes have evolved. Now, we are responsible for the success of everything from Girl on the Train to Gone Girl and let’s face it, they have been the biggest publishing phenomena since Harry Potter (which has some pretty powerful female characters too!)
For me, Women’s Fiction are books about, for, and very often, by women. They run the gamut from dear old Maeve Binchey to modern writers like Liane Moriority because books that give women a central role do not have to be about romance. There is no doubt that within the category of Women’s Fiction, romance, historical romance, cosy crime romances and erotica can sit shoulder to shoulder – but women’s fiction? For my money, it’s a blanket term that covers just about every book I’d want to read.
Patricia: How do you describe yourself as a writer? Born to write? Come to it later? Committed storyteller? Can't live without a pen & notebook handy?
Faith: Some might say committed all right!
No, I’ve always had a pen and paper handy, always been a reader. Most people didn’t actually know I wrote until I signed my first book deal. At the same time, I was the go-to-girl to get something put down on paper, whether it’s a C.V. or a grant application, an official letter or a speech – but I never broadcast that I wrote in my spare time. I always dreamed the dream though!
Patricia: Most readers would love to know more about the characters. Which are your favourite and is there anymore you can share about any of them that isn't in the novel? (We want all the goss, Faith!)
Faith: This is a difficult one without giving away the story! Suffice it to say, one man is lucky to be alive (there was a tragic death in the first draft!)
It was a very close call in the end who would get the girl – really the final pages wrote themselves and I was probably more surprised than any reader will be at who ends up with a HEA and who is left to watch the waves alone! It was emotional too, because the real love story came from the last place I expected, so much so that my working title for the book became MFEO – Meant For Each Other.
Patricia: What do you have planned for your next novel and the one after that?
Faith: Well, book three as was, has been shelved for now. It was written and edited, but it dipped into some slightly controversial areas and for now, I think it’s better to hold off. Our world is changing fast and it’s amazing, but what was sympathetic and new last week, is very often radioactive by the weekend! It’s got some great characters, but the timing was just wrong – so for now it’s having a little holiday!
The book I’m currently finishing is set in Dublin. It’s the story of three women who decide they want to break out and start over – and well, you can imagine that’s never going to be straightforward!
Patricia: Finally, I am a dedicated explorer of old and abandoned buildings. Is your abandoned Bath House in Ballytokeep a real place or fictional? And if it's real, is it a place you've explored yourself? If fictional, is it based on abandoned places you've been to?
Faith: Ballytokeep and the Bath House most certainly are real – true, they’ve been a little enhanced by my imagination. I live in the west of Ireland – a beautiful, windswept corner of the world, where the Atlantic blows fresh and salty on our doorstep. Just down the road, a little holiday village called Enniscrone in County Sligo has a working Bath House, but dug into the black stone cliffs is an old abandoned building called the Cliff Baths. It was built by the Orme Family when sea weed baths were all the rage. It has been closed for many years, winter storms have wreaked their damage on its walls, but too often I’ve walked along the abandoned winter beach and wondered, what if….
The story of Secrets We Keep took seed along those walks.
Patricia: If there's anything else, you'd like to share with readers, now's your chance...
Faith: The only thing I’d like to say is thanks for having me! It’s lovely to connect with others when you’re writing – it can be a lonely occupation. So, other writers, bloggers and readers – well they become like colleagues, all feeding into the one organic process. I love hearing from people, be it through Facebook, the website or just a tweet and I can’t thank people enough – because really there is no better feeling than sharing your book with someone who loved it!
If you'd like to get in touch with Faith, you can find her at all the usual places:
Twitter (her favourite)
And for more info, on Faith and her novels, head over to her web page: FaithHogan.com
If you'd like to buy either (or both) of Faith's novels (they really are very good), you can find all the links on her website or click/tap on one of the links below:
Just tell her I sent you!