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On Waiting: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

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Hazel Gaynor © 6 September 2018.
Posted in the Magazine ( · Historical Fiction · Interviews ).

They say time waits for no man (erm, or woman), but when it comes to writing time waits for everyone. Whether you’re waiting for submission feedback on your debut novel or waiting for publication of your sixth (yes, I am that soldier), you’d better make yourself comfortable and prepare to wait …

Waiting to Hear – Arguably the worst phase of waiting. Finally, you’ve sent off whatever it is you’ve been agonising over for years happily working on for the past few months: your debut, a synopsis, sample chapters, a rough idea for something new … Whatever it is, you finally send the email you’ve been tweaking for days. Part relief, part crushing sense of helplessness, you are now like those people in Lost, pressing Refresh for eternity. For weeks, possibly months (I kid you not), you live through every possible reaction to your work several times a day, until you go to bed at night and dream about your teeth falling out instead. How to cope? Leave the desk/house/country. Take up running or knitting or triathlons. Anything to distract you.

Waiting for Reviews – Hooray! You got a publishing deal! The waiting is over, right? Wrong. Next up, the proofs go out to reviewers, booksellers and the media and the waiting starts again. And here’s the thing: people will tell you they’ve received your book, and started reading it, but don’t always tell you they’ve finished it. Welcome to the dreaded Void Of Silence where random comments on social media send your paranoia levels spiralling. Reading a dreadful new novel. Don’t know what all the fuss is about. Convinced they’re talking about your book you daren’t even look at your own proof because you’ll want to edit Chapter Nine and rewrite the Epilogue and you can do nothing about it but wait for the verdicts to come in. How to cope? Start something new and send it out. See Waiting to Hear, above.

Waiting for Publication Date – Elephant gestation periods have nothing on publication dates. Read The Bookseller and you’ll get a sense of the decades that pass between a book being sold and a book being published. Yet somehow the months and weeks creep closer and reality hits you: people are going to read your book. Strangers. WITH OPINIONS. You do everything in your power to resist the urge to read Goodreads and Amazon Vine reviews because that, my friends, is like setting out on Frodo’s journey to Mordor. You need four espressos and a Portuguese custard tart before you can even think about opening the weekend review section of the broadsheets. How to cope? Go to the cinema. Borrow the neighbour’s dog and go for very long walks. Open the gin.

Waiting for Guests – And, Lo! Publication day arrives. You now spend hours waiting for your hairdresser to make you look less like a ball of stress and more like an author with a new book out so that you look the part while you wait for guests to arrive at your events. “It’s filling up nicely,” you tell yourself, despite the four actual people and the twenty empty rows of seats. How to Cope? Remind yourself that this was your dream and that it’ll be a great story to tell when you’re J.K. Rowling. Also, drink all the complimentary wine.

Waiting for your Breakout – Of course your debut will hit all the lists and sell movie rights to Spielberg. If not, then your second definitely will, right? Wrong. Most writers take many years and books – sometimes an entire career – to hit the #1 spot on the NYT bestsellers and sell film rights and be picked for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. And here’s the thing: it may never happen (did I say that out loud?). Which is precisely why patience really is a virtue and why waiting is such an integral part of writing. Because one thing’s for sure – we just don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know if this one will become the one. All we can ever do is write the best book possible and hope. And wait.

One other thing. These phases of waiting are not mutually exclusive. Most writers are waiting for reviews to come in, and for publication day to arrive while also waiting to hear about the new idea we sent off to our agent. But you know what, for all the sleepless nights and the worry and the faded lettering on the F9 key, we wouldn’t change it for the world.

As publication day of my sixth novel approaches, here I am, waiting, wondering, hoping. I’m distracting myself by working on a memoir on the craft of writing. It’s called, On Waiting. I may be some time.

(c) Hazel Gaynor

HAZEL GAYNOR is the acclaimed New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from The Savoy, was an Irish Times bestseller, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret, Hazel’s most recent novel for HarperCollins, was published to great acclaim in 2017, and went on to become a USA Today and Globe & Mail bestseller  
Hazel has written for publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Irish Times, TIME Magazine, Salon and the Huffington Post. She has also spoken extensively about her research and her writing on radio and TV, including The Ryan Tubridy Show, Elaine, BBC World Service and ABC Australia. Hazel’s work has been translated into 9 languages to date and she is published in 16 countries. She lives in Kildare with her husband and two children. For more information visit www.hazelgaynor.com, @HazelGaynor on Twitter, or @hazelgaynorbooks on Facebook.
About The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter:

From Cork to Rhode Island, can a young Irish girl find home … and herself?

From the New York Times and Irish Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home and The Girl From The Savoy comes a sweeping historical novel inspired by the astonishing true story of a remarkable young woman.

Blending fiction with impeccably researched fact, this extraordinary novel inspired by real-life heroine Grace Darling, follows two female lighthouse keepers who live a century apart, but whose stories are forever linked by their instinctive acts of courage and love in moments of unspeakable fear…

1838: Northumberland, England. When lighthouse keeper’s daughter, Grace Darling, is involved in the daring rescue of the stranded survivors of a terrible shipwreck, she becomes one of the most celebrated women of her age. But the friendship that develops between Grace and an artist who sets out to capture her subtle beauty, is far more precious to her than her unwanted fame.

1938: Newport, Rhode Island. Nineteen-years-old, pregnant and in disgrace, Matilda Emmerson is sent away from Ireland to stay with her reclusive relative, Harriet, the assistant lighthouse keeper. When a discarded, halffinished portrait opens a window into her family history, Matilda finds her destiny inextricably linked to Grace Darling.

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is a sweeping historical novel that explores the ties that bind mothers and daughters and the connection between two women learning that where you are has the power to shape who you are. As always, Hazel delivers a cast of strong, courageous women for readers to fall in love with.

Order your copy online here.


HAZEL GAYNOR is the acclaimed New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from The Savoy, was an Irish Times bestseller, and was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret, Hazel's most recent novel for HarperCollins, was published to great acclaim in 2017, and went on to become a USA Today and Globe & Mail bestseller Hazel has written for publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including the Irish Times, TIME Magazine, Salon and the Huffington Post. She has also spoken extensively about her research and her writing on radio and TV, including The Ryan Tubridy Show, Elaine, BBC World Service and ABC Australia. Hazel's work has been translated into 9 languages to date and she is published in 16 countries. She lives in Kildare with her husband and two children. For more information visit www.hazelgaynor.com, @HazelGaynor on Twitter, or @hazelgaynorbooks on Facebook.
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