Continuing my celebration of the Chill With A Book Award winners, I am delighted to welcome debut novelist, Andrea Derby to the blog today, to discuss her novel, The Husband Who Refused to Die …
Huge congratulations on winning your Chill Award! You must be so happy that your work has been recognised in this way. Now, before we carry on, would you please introduce yourself to my readers, just in case they don’t know you already …
Thanks so much for inviting me to take a place under the Spotlight. I’m Andrea Darby and The Husband Who Refused to Die is my debut novel. It’s in the contemporary women’s fiction genre but has an unusual, topical, premise that has attracted a lot of attention!
Before writing the book, I worked as a journalist for more than 20 years, many of them freelancing from my home near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.
So, your book has been awarded with a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, what inspired you to write this story?
The idea came to me after reading an article in a women’s magazine about a young couple who’d both signed up to have their bodies frozen when they die.
They’d paid a large sum of money to be cryonically preserved, in the hope they may be brought back to life at a later date â€“ when science has advanced.
I’d been searching for an original premise for my debut for quite some time, hoping to tell a story in which the extraordinary happens in ordinary lives – and I immediately knew this was it!
I was fascinated by the motivations and implications of such a radical – and unusual – choice, and, as a journalist, excited by the opportunity to research and learn about something outside of my own, and most other people’s, experience.
I was even more excited to discover that, although several hundred people are signed up to be preserved after death, cryonics has never been the premise in realistic, contemporary women’s fiction; only science fiction. Dare I say The Husband Who Refused to Die is a first?!
My head was spinning with ‘what if’s?’ when it came to contemplating cryonics: What if someone I loved passed away and wanted to be frozen? What if there was no funeral? What if I felt I couldn’t grieve in the normal way? What if I thought it was creepy and confusing? What if I couldn’t find closure?
It’s these questions that led me to create Carrie and Dana’s story.
What does the award mean to you?
As a debut novelist, it’s such a thrill to have recognition from readers and to know they’ve enjoyed the story you’ve chosen to tell. Thanks so much Chill readers!
Are you working on a new book? Tell me about that …
I’m in the early stages of writing my next book, and it could well change, so there’s not much I can say, other than that it will also be in the contemporary women’s fiction genre. My aim is to get it published in 2018.
When not writing, what can you be found doing?
Playing or teaching the piano, reading, hiding in coffee shops with my laptop and a pot of tea or a flat white, and entertaining Frank the family poodle.
Which three authors have most influenced your journey to becoming an author?
Irish Murdoch, John Irving and Maggie O’Farrell.
Why did you choose the genre you write in?
Although I enjoy many genres, I mostly read contemporary novels and felt my writing ‘voice’ was more suited to accessible women’s fiction.
Which other genre would you choose if you had to change?
I like the idea of writing a psychological thriller, to play around with unreliable memories and dark twists. On the other hand, a cosy mystery has a certain appeal too.
Quick fire questions …
Twitter or Facebook?
Tea or coffee?
Marmite – yes or no?
Early riser or sleep in?
Sleep in. Despite years of stupidly early starts as a journalist on a regional newspaper, I still find it hard to function first thing.
Pj’s or ‘normal’ clothes when writing?
Normal. I’ve been self-employed for so long, I treat any writing as work.
Planner or pantster?
A bit of both.
Book or kindle?
Pineapple on pizza – yes or no?
Absolutely. Pineapple on everything. I love it!
And finally, What is your favourite book of all time?
Ooh, don’t make me choose! I Can’t! There are so many. I read Wuthering Heights in my late teens and it remains special to me, and I loved This Must Be The Place by Maggie O’Farrell, which I read recently, but – probably A Prayer for Owen Meanie, by John Irving. It has everything – fantastic writing, brilliantly drawn characters, a strangely compelling story and, though I’m not sure I fully understand it, I find the book particularly challenging and thought provoking. It’s one of the few novels I have re-read several times.
Thank you for joining me today Andrea and many congratulations again on your Chill with A Book Award!
Now I certainly want to know more about this book and I’m sure you all do too, so here’s the blurb …
Carrie’s no ordinary widow. Husband Dan has died unexpectedly and left behind an extraordinary wish – to be frozen. He believes his life’s simply been ‘suspended’, that he can come back … one day … when science has moved on. He’d hoped his wife would want to do the same. But she doesn’t.
Two years on and Carrie, mum to increasingly truculent teenage daughter Eleanor, tentatively reconnects with an old boyfriend, whose dramatic exit from her life has always been a painful mystery. But their romance is hampered by Carrie’s never-ending personal problems, not least her interfering sister-in-law Sunny, a reflexologist with a soft voice, loud clothes and a bag full of natural remedies. Sunny’s intent on keeping her brother’s memory alive and ensuring Carrie honours his request.
After Dan’s story is resurrected in the news headlines, some distressing secrets from the past are revealed, and Carrie is taunted by someone with a serious grudge.
But are the secrets true? Will she discover who’s behind the malicious acts – and why?
Told with warmth and wit, The Husband Who Refused to Die is a pacy novel with an original premise that casts an unusual light on a story about love, loss, family and friendship.
Thanks again for joining me today Andrea, it’s been great getting to know you.
If you’re an indie author, click here to find out more about the Chill Awards and you can keep up to date with all Andrea’s news by following her various links below.