As always, I'm thrilled to have authors stop here for blog tours. Lorraine Cannell has just popped in, and I'm so excited to talk about her psychological murder mystery (Just in time for Halloween).
Lorraine, us a little bit more about your book.
Hollow is a psychological murder mystery, interweaved with the supernatural. The main character is Liv, a fifteen-year-old amnesiac who joins her aunt’s psychic circle for a bit of fun, but who instead opens a doorway to the spirit world, a doorway from which she can never return. In essence, it’s about families, and what trauma does to them, and the terrible secrets they hold. But it’s also about self-discovery.
So scary and intriguing! I can't wait to dive in. I imagine certain scenes were harder to write than others. What was the hardest part of the writing process for you?
I had some publisher interest when I wrote Hollow, but it was turned down at the acquisitions stage. I think the hardest part was picking myself up from that. I knew there was something about my writing that wasn’t working, and I approached the Golden Egg Academy in the UK for help. After a year and a half of mentoring and various structural and line edits, I felt that the story had come on leaps and bounds. I tried another round of submissions to try and secure an agent, but the YA market is really tough right now. In the end, I decided to self-publish Hollow and I don’t regret that decision for a second. I’ve had some great reviews and I was also long-listed in the Bath Novel Award 2017.
That's incredible. Agreed that YA is tough right now, for sure. But that's amazing you received that award. This book sounds exciting all the way through. What scene were you most excited to write?
The final scenes were my favourite scenes to write, and in fact, I wrote them early on in the process. I had a good idea of how the story was going to end but I added an extra twist that came late in the day. There’s nothing like seeing all the threads of your story finally coming together like a carefully weaved tapestry, but it also means if you add something late in the day, you have to unpick parts of the story and add new threads. That’s what I love about endings.
Agreed. I really love the imagery of the threads. I'm sure you liked writing certain characters more than others. Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
I have a soft spot for Ally, Liv’s cousin. She is flawed but strong at the same time, and like me – she has a tendency to bury her emotions rather than confronting them.
"Half of the battle is getting the story onto paper and completing the first draft."
I'm the same way in a lot of ways. You talked a little about your publishing journey and some difficulties involved with that. What is your advice for any readers who would love to write a book?
I would urge anyone who has a story inside them to give it a go. Half of the battle is getting the story onto paper and completing the first draft. That in itself is a massive achievement. And if anyone is seriously thinking about writing a story, they should use this coming November as an opportunity to get a first draft done with NaNoWriMo – challenge yourself to write a 50,000-word novel (https://nanowrimo.org). It might seem like a crazy idea, but banging those words out stops you from overthinking things and helps keep the story momentum going. And once you have the first draft in your hands, that’s when the real fun begins…
Is there anything else you'd like to add about your book that you think readers should know before picking it up?
If you get spooked easily and have trouble sleeping, don’t read Hollow at night.
Ah, so true. I can't wait to read this. Thank you so much for joining us! Readers, make sure to check out this fantastic author and her book in the links and extract below.
Extract from Hollow
Another one of the group moves forward; my silent, faceless doppelganger. Except she isn’t. Or is she? My padded cell is failing, my head hurting with the possibilities. She looks so much like me – the same tone to her hair colour, the same body shape. I watch her shuffle forward, the others falling back, take in what she’s wearing.
I recognise the white short cropped top, but there are jeans too, and black suede boots caked with mud. She reaches out to touch me, her fingers hovering near my collarbone, and I realise – there’s no way she could have been me, some other version of the girl that I could have been. I was crazy to ever think it. She’s taller than me; by two inches, at least.
The water swells at the edges of the room and splashes up against the skirting boards. The source of it, behind me, is deafening. But the girl’s fingers are almost upon me, and I’m transfixed by the rivulets of blood running from her head, the way they find a course into the rippling channels of her face. Who are you? I think. But then a stronger force, some kind of self-preservation instinct, tunes into the roar of water behind me and pulls me around.
About the author
Lorraine Cannell is a novelist, largely specialising in Young Adult fiction. HOLLOW is her first Young Adult novel and was long-listed as part of the Bath Novel Award 2017.
She lives in a Kentish Oast House in the UK with her husband, three children and two golden retrievers.