At first I did wonder whether the novel was going to go down the old life = new start route, with the character rejigging their life and having a happy ending. Predictable, so I am sure you can sense my relief when it became clear that the main characters life wasn’t that straight forward…in the slightest. Kate Hunt had done a bit of to-ing and fro-ing over the years, but little did she know that she was going to clock up even more miles on her return to Ireland. Heartbroken and emotional, Kate has multiple decisions ahead of her, none of which can be solved over a cup of tea and a jammy dodger.
I couldn’t get enough of this storyline! Yes, I was a bit concerned that it was going to end up predictable, however, ‘Secrets We Keep’ is a storyline with incredible depth. The highlight for me was the historical influence. Not only did we delve into the characters past, we were also made aware of the history behind certain points in Ireland. Being part Irish myself and having never been, the insight to the history of certain buildings and areas was mind-blowing.
Everything flowed really well overall, although I did find myself becoming a bit impatient when males came on the scene as I wanted to get back to Kate’s family history! I sound a geek now eh!
I really do think that ‘Secrets We Keep’ is Faith’s best novel so far as its shown a different side to her writing without having to add a severely drastic situation to the overall storyline. It kept me on my toes, had me wondering ‘what ifs?’ and even had me sitting there with my mouth open trying to catch fish (that’s shocked to you and me by the way). There is something incredibly special about ‘Secrets We Keep’ and I really believe that that special something is the fact it was written from the authors heart.
Gripping, heart warming and positively eye-opening; ‘Secrets We Keep’ goes above and beyond with such an enchanting and emotional storyline. It is pretty clear that a lot of research went into the novel as well as a lot of effort. Faith Hogan, you’ve done yourself proud; a truly wonderful read.
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Q & A with the lady herself, Faith Hogan!
Welcome back to TWG, Faith Hogan!
First off, thanks for having me Kaisha! It’s lovely to be back dropping in on TWG!
TWG: For those that aren’t overly familiar with your work, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a published author?
Well, like you, I’m a Mammy first (Irish mothers are always Mammy’s!!) I live with my husband, four children and a fat cat called Norris in the beautiful, if somewhat windswept west of Ireland. I just love books, always have and once I discovered eBooks, well let’s just say I’m a seriously happy bunny. I’m one of those people who has always written, whether it was sitting in a waiting room or wrestling with a longer piece of fiction. The road to publication was what it was – I think we get to where we’re going when we’re ready to be there. I’ve been lucky, my agent is the best and Aria Fiction are a seriously dedicated and lovely bunch – I can honestly say, I’ve loved every minute. Now, I get to talk to bookish types like yourself all the time and it’s even better than I could have hoped for!
TWG: Your first novel, My Husbands Wives (published by Aria in May 2016), has got such a deep and dark feel to it in comparison to your new novel, The Secrets We Keep. Was it intentional to write two books with storylines verging on both ends of the spectrum, as it were?
I’m not sure any book is intentional – they just sort of need to be written! I always believed I’d write crime and My Husbands’ Wives grew from the question of ‘What If…; My agent felt I had a women’s fiction book in me, if we could just get it out! Now, it’s flowing out of me and the words are just flying onto the pages – it’s amazing to love what for so long you resisted.
Secrets We Keep was born of the place – Ballytokeep is based on a small seaside town near where I Iive. The characters are from my imagination, but there is an old Bath House dug into black stone cliffs and I’m sure I’m not alone in having looked at it and maybe asking that same question once more – What if…
TWG: How hard has it been to write two novels and get them both published, in under a year? I am in awe! What’s your secret?
Well, the writing is actually the easy bit! Aria Fiction are the wizards who got them out there. I had started Secrets We Keep once I sent off My Husbands’ Wives – it was a way of keeping my nerves even! Really, it’s down to time and making the most of it. We have a busy house, but I’m lucky – I have a husband who is happy to dig in and a family around me who are all rooting for me, in all the best practical ways.
TWG: Having read both of your books (and thoroughly enjoyed them), were there any parts of the storylines that you find quite difficult to write, on a personal level?
In the first draft of Secrets We Keep we had a tragic death and to be honest, I’m really glad that I changed that in a later draft, the change was actually more emotional than the death. It felt as though I could touch on the notion of soul mates. Secrets We Keep had a working title of MFEO – Meant For Each Other and I think that was the bit that kind of got me!
As regards things that would cause me sleepless nights – I never write about children in peril, never write about children as victims – I know, I couldn’t cope with that at all – in fact, I love a good thriller, but I won’t read anything with a child victim – I think it affects me more now I have children of my own. Life is too short to go reading things that make you sad or upset!
TWG: Your second novel, Secrets We Keep, has just been released, congratulations! How did publication day feel the second time around?
To be honest, the night I got the news that Aria were interested in taking me on was the best night ever. We announced to family and opened a bottle of champagne – I’m not a drinker, but even I had a glass of bubbly that night!
On the night of publication,(My Husbands’ Wives,) I thought I’d explode with excitement. I lay in bed for hours, spinning everything from the text to the blog tour over in my mind. It dawned on me, that I was going to bed as a writer, but I would waken as an author and in some profound way, I felt it changed me from what I always wanted to become to who I was meant to be!
For Secret’s We Keep, the party was planned well in advance, just a very nice meal out with my nearest and dearest, well, it’s not every day you publish your second book, is it?
TWG: Secrets We Keep seemed to be centred on genealogy, which I found extremely interesting. Have you ever had (or wanted) to delve further into your own family history?
I think every family has secrets – sometimes, there better left alone!
In Secrets We Keep it all turned out for the best, but in real life, what’s good for one can be disastrous for another. I live in the same area that my family has lived in for generations. Recently, my husband visited a graveyard about twenty miles from where we live and he stumbled across my great, great, great grandparents graves, by chance more than by design. I knew they were there, but I’ve only been there twice. The man with him remembered the ‘old master’ (my father’s family were all teachers) and he sang a song that had been written about him in the village where he taught. It’s nice to hear things like that, but I’m sure that there are many other ditties written about school masters back in the day that were not so very complimentary!
TWG: Were there any characters from your books that you found yourself disliking?
Now, let me see – would you fancy Duncan Delaney?
TWG: Those that are familiar with your work know that you have joined the ever growing list of Irish authors. I have Irish heritage yet I have never been there! How important was it to you that you set, The Secrets We Keep, in Ireland? Is that a theme you will use for your other books going forward?
I suppose I’m inspired by the landscape – by the wind and rain, maybe more than by the sunshine. There is nothing to compare with the autumn sound of the wind raging through the trees and the scatter of tawny leaves at your feet. Perhaps one day, I’ll decide that I just love sun, sand and sangria and move to… you see, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d want to be. So, probably yes, for now I’ll be writing about what fills my soul – those bright and breezy days, walking along the coast or through shaded woods, far from that ‘madding crowd.’
TWG: This is a question that gets asked in every single interview that I do: what was your favourite book(s) as a child? Oh, I’m quite boring that way, I grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton. I could blame her for my love of crime fiction, but the truth is, I graduated from her, probably too early to Agatha Christie and then I ended up getting a compendium of Arthur Conan Doyle and I was hooked forever. Thankfully, my reading cache has widened somewhat, but that’s where I started!
With the kids I’ve gone back and read Roald Dahl and I’m probably the biggest Harry Potter fan in the house. Now, I’m loving David Walliams too – he’s funny, current and brave.
TWG: If you could walk into a book shop, pick up any book and have the author name change to yours, which book would it be and why?
It would have to be Kate Atkinson – I love her style of prose.
Then, I’ve also gotten lost in quite a few Kate Morton books and everything about them is just dreamy as a writer – I’ve even bought some of them in hard back – although I’ve read them on my kindle! They’re just the right mix of women’s fiction, historical fiction and intrigue.
TWG: When you’re not busy writing books for me to read (I’ll share them, honest), what would we find you doing?
Did I mention that I have four children, a husband and very fat cat…
Seriously, I love the simple things, going for a walk, meeting up with friends, hanging out with the kids. My oldest is partial to a Netflix binge, so although I’m hopelessly behind on anything cool I love to sit late into the night with him for that (occasionally)!
And of course, there’s always chocolate…
TWG: As you know, TWG LOVES an exclusive (or two), do you have a little something that you can tell me about any upcoming books? It’ll be ‘The Secret We Keep’, honest ;).
Well, there is talk of a trade paperback for My Husbands Wives in May, now that’s been a well-kept secret for a while…
TWG: It is still very early in 2017, how is the rest of the year looking for you, book wise? Are there any new books on the horizon? Different genres?
I have something very close to finished. It’s a story about three women who decide to strike out and change their lives and we all know how easy that is!! Let’s just say, it’s not as straight forward as they thought 😉
TWG: One last question; in ONE sentence only, what advice would you give someone who wants to enter the world of authors, and publish a book?
I’d say first, write because you want to write, not because you want to get published. Write because it’s what you do, because it’s who you are.
Then, I’d say read, read, read. Read books like you want to write, good books and terrible books, they all have something to teach. Read books that show you specifically how to write, there are lots of them out there.
Finally, the most important thing, buy, get or borrow a very comfortable chair – you may be sitting in it for a very long time!
Thanks again, Kaisha for having me on the blog –I love TWG!!
Thank you so much for letting me interrogate you!
If you wish to keep up to date with Faith’s books, here are a few author links for you to nosey at: