Lauren Walsburg: Congratulations on My Life as a Bench! It is a wonderful book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I’ve been keeping an eye on the reviews and it appears that I’m not the only one who loved it. How important is it for you as a writer to receive feedback?
Jaq Hazell: Feedback is always useful, especially from beta readers who can help you improve a novel. I’m always interested to hear what people think of my work and it can be fascinating to see different interpretations.
LW: You’ve previously mentioned that My Life as a Bench started as a flash fiction piece. When you begin a new story, do you sit down and plan it out or do you start writing and see where it takes you?
JH: I’ve tried both approaches, and find a little planning can speed up the writing process while mapping out a story in too much detail makes writing a chore. At the very least, it helps to have a sense of an ending, a vague idea of where you’re heading, and to aim in that direction with a healthy degree of uncertainty.
LW: My Life as a Bench has a diverse range of characters. Which character was the most difficult for you to write and why?
JH: All the characters were equally difficult at the beginning because I didn’t know them. There are so many decisions to make along the way. Where was this character born? What are her parents like? What caused the estrangement from her dad? Perhaps Ren (the protagonist) was the most difficult because she needed a full back story and a complete life.
LW: You’ve included several key locations in the novel. There is often a debate about whether place or character is more important in writing a story. Where do you sit in the debate?
JH: If I had to choose, I’d go with character, but then again if place is written well it should become a character in itself so perhaps they are equally important.
LW: What can we expect next from Jaq Hazell?
JH: I am working on a new novel which is progressing slowly while I promote Bench, and I also have a children’s novel, a middle-grade humorous adventure called Horace Fox & the Dark Hedges which will find its way out into the world at some point in the near future.
About Jaq Hazell
My favourite author is…
I have loads: Emily Bronte, Dickens, Hemingway, James Salter, Jeanette Winterson, Mark Haddon, Ali Smith, Meg Rosoff and many more.
If I were an animal, I would be…
a fox. I spent a lot of time imagining life as an urban fox while writing Horace Fox & the Dark Hedges. I love seeing foxes in London. I love how opportunistic they are, born survivors, they adapt to wherever they are in the world.
Sweet or savoury?
I have a weakness for sweet, but if I had to eat one way or the other for the rest of my life I’d say savoury.
My favourite word is…
Zanzi & Bijou – the names of my daughters.
The best place to write is…
anywhere. You can’t use location as an excuse, you have to get on with it and make the best of wherever you are – be like a fox.
Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Jaq. I loved My Life as a Bench and I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
Check out the links below for more information about Jaq Hazell and her work.