Sunday, April 30, 2017

Because I Was Lonely by Hayley Mitchell - Interview & Book Review

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 Book Blurb

Meet Rachel. She is caught in a spiral of endless crying, dirty nappies, and sleepless nights. She fears for her sanity and the safety of her children.

She's lonely.

Meet Adam. Suffering from the pain and trauma of a terrible accident that he blames himself for, he stays at home, unable to bring himself to leave the house.

He's lonely.

So when Rachel and Adam rekindle their long lost friendship online, what starts as a little harmless flirtation, soon becomes an unhealthy obsession, and slowly the threads of their lives unravel before them.

Four lonely people . Two unhappy marriages . One dangerous, but inevitable climax.
 
About Hayley Mitchell
 

Hayley Mitchell spends most of the time writing books in her head and was finally able to put finger to keyboard and capture some of the words in the form of her debut novel Because I Was Lonely. A Law graduate she has spent most of her life working with people and much of her career as an advice worker for charities. Always fascinated by people and their relationships she began to write fiction. She is very lucky to live in Wiltshire with her husband, whose support has been invaluable and their two children who amuse, inspire and exhaust her everyday. She is now writing her second novel.
 
Links

Interview

1) Could you tell us four random facts about you?

 I once went on stage and sung Valerie in front of a large crowd at Bruton Packhorse Fair with a live Karaoke Band, they play you sing…ALONE!! I did have some cider before I did it, I needed a bit of West Country courage as I was shaking from head to toe, but my husband dared me and I’ve never been one to shirk from a dare! I was followed by Michael Evis and to be honest I’m not sure who gave the worst performance.

I’m a keen amateur photographer. Everything has to be black and white.

I love my Mountain Bike. I try to get up to Scotland once a year as the tracks in the Cairngorms are fantastic, not too extreme for me but you can go for miles in isolation with just trees, mountains, fresh air and wildlife for company. We get up early before the kids are out of bed I go for an hour then my husband goes for an hour because the kids are too young to leave yet. If we get chance to go together we are a bit competitive so it’s probably safer to go alone, it’s also fantastic mind space, quiet and a wonderful time just to think.

I’m quite fond of a good music festival except the festival hair! I hate my festival hair!!

2) You write about grief and depression in a beautiful way, what inspired you to write about this difficult topic?


Death was sadly everywhere at the time. I think it helped me, it was cathartic and provided that release that Rachel and Adam don’t get in the book. I lost both my parents within a couple of years of each other and sadly my cousin took his own life. I couldn’t escape the grief so I wrote about it instead.

Death and depression are two subjects that we just don’t talk about enough. We can’t hide from death yet we rarely voice our feelings on the subject, we often see prolonged grief as a weakness as we do depression. I think if we were all a little more open about our feelings then life would be more straightforward. All of us have days when we feel like we can’t cope. Sometimes all we need is a hug and someone to talk to, but if you don’t get this then your emotions can spiral downward. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a support network who helped me through that very difficult period of my life, unlike my characters, yet I still have days when the death of my Mum floors me. It makes my whole body hurt and there is no escape from the pain you just have to live in that moment until it passes.

3) Could you describe the main characters of Because I Was Lonely in six words each?

Rachel – Lonely, irrational, desperate, exhausted, angry, hurt.

Adam- Lonely, grieving, self-absorbed, obsessive, sad, needy.

David- Lonely, selfish, loyal (to his parents) confused, detached, hard- working.

Julia- Lonely, strong yet vulnerable, lonely, disappointed, faithful, driven.

I think they were all very different people before life became difficult. If I described them before it would be:

Rachel- Fun, insecure, loving, complicated, happy to party.

Adam- Calm, hard working, insecure, chilled, happy, relaxed.

David- Focused, confident, loving, lacking empathy, happy, loved.

Julia- Focused, hard working, driven, needing to be loved.

4) Your characters aren't perfect, they're human with plenty of problems and emotions, why have you chosen this approach?

I love fairy tales but I don’t think I could write them. I get annoyed with righteous characters because they are too good to be true and I presume they are hiding something! I think my perception of humanity may be warped by working in the family section of a court for many years and it has made me a little cynical, however I am a great believer that people can redeem themselves and once you forgive someone you should work hard on leaving the past behind.

Things are rarely what they seem at first glance, people and their relationships are complicated, often transient, sometimes convenient but the ending of them is rarely the fault of just one party. I wanted real characters but I think my characters would be very different people if they just felt loved and valued. It’s something we all respond to. A good relationship, whether it’s with a friend, family, partner or children requires investment in time and emotion. Listening and talking are essential. My characters talk but not to the right people and not in the right way.

5) What's the best writing advice you've ever been given?

Keep going!

6) Could you describe your writing process?

I write in the mornings after a quick check on the social media and emails. I write in short bursts, a lot of coffee and water are consumed. First drafts are chaotic and incomprehensible sometimes even to me! I re-draft multiple times and envy anyone who can get it almost there on the first draft.

I’m driven by the responses of the characters as I write I don’t plan so the story follows on from how they react to a given situation. Sometimes they surprise me, which makes me sound a little bit insane. Although, in my defence, I do spend a lot of time thinking like my characters, it’s a bit strange when I’m writing a man in his forties! I do spend time thinking about the clothes they might wear, the car they would like, their interests, music, what their house would look like and what their favourite food and drink would be, so as I write I respond as them. If that makes sense?

7) Where do you read and where do you write?

I mostly read in bed but if I’m reading a particularly good book have been known to lock myself in the loo just so I can finish it in peace although the kids generally find me!

I write at my desk, when I edit or re draft I sometimes go to the kitchen table or the sofa. If I’m stuck I go out and sit in a coffee shop with my laptop. The laptop is a cover for listening in on other people’s conversations.

8) You write about two people who find each other again through Facebook, where did you get the idea for this part of your story?

A conversation on a train but trust me the book doesn’t even touch the surface as far as how bizarre that conversation was!! It’s not the story of Because I Was Lonely, my characters already existed they were just in the wrong story. The conversation gave me the idea of obsession.

9) What are your plans for the future?

I’m just over half way through the first draft of my second book. I sold my small business in December so I’m taking a few months to write full time but if it doesn’t work out then I will be writing my CV ! I have a fantastically supportive husband who has agreed to this as long as I do all the cooking!
 
Book review
By Suze
 
 
Rachel and David used to have a lot of fun together and they were very close. After starting a family and having two kids things changed. Rachel is no longer the confident woman she used to be. She's depressed, doesn't care about her looks any longer and is struggling with the care of two small children. She's on her own as David has withdrawn himself from their family. He works long hours and doesn't support his wife at all. He comes home every night, but isn't really there in spirit.

Adam used to be a jovial man who got along with everyone. He's married to the ambitious and critical Julia and they have a family. After a terrible accident their life changed. He was too traumatized to be the person he once was and he's now obsessively compulsive and has nothing to look forward to. Julia escaped this life of doom and gloom and is working and living somewhere else during the week. Adam can do nothing right and this doesn't help him heal.

Adam and Rachel used to be best friends when they were students. When Adam sends Rachel a friendship request on Facebook she accepts. They discover that talking to each other is easy. It makes the loneliness and boredom disappear. Because they live far away from each other they keep themselves happy with texts, but for how long can it continue without consequences, what effect does their renewed connection have on their daily life?

Because I Was Lonely is a raw emotional story. Adam and Rachel are both depressed and Hayley Mitchell writes about their problems in an open and honest way. I was surprised by the amount of detail she gives and sometimes it shocked me, but I also admired the way the information is being presented. Adam and Rachel's text message are versatile, sometimes they are sad and sometimes flirtatious, but from time to time they're mean and jealous too. They have many different emotional layers and that makes the story interesting to read.

Adam is a good guy who has lost himself and Rachel is lost inside herself, which makes them have a lot in common. There was already a connection a long time ago, but now it's even deeper because of everything they've been through. Hayley Mitchell's story is realistic, it's something that could easily have happened to two people who are alone and desperate. I loved that she's chosen such a serious and difficult topic for her book and think she's turned it into an excellent story. I learned about a side of Facebook I'd never given any consideration and I loved the originality of it.

Hayley Mitchell's writing flows easily. I liked that there are four points of view, which makes it possible to get to know all the main characters through and through. Most of the story focuses on Adam and Rachel, but their spouses, Julia and David, have a voice as well. This gives an objective insight in the situation. Hayley Mitchell doesn't judge, she just tells their story, which is something I applaud. She writes about the black and the white and the many shades of grey in between in an equally fascinating way and there's never any blame and there aren't imposed opinions. To me that felt like being enabled to look through someone's window while being able to hear and see their conversations. I think that's fantastic. Because I Was Lonely is very special and I absolutely loved this unusual, complex story.

19 comments:

  1. It seems like there may be some sadness to these charcters.

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  2. I like character driven stories and multiple POVs. This sounds intriguing. Enjoyed the interview too. I like to discover interesting things about authors:)

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  3. Thank you for the interview and review.

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  4. Looks like there's a lot of tension between public and private selves!

    --Trix

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  5. This one sounds very emotional and a little on the dangerous side as far as adultery goes. I may have to pick this one up.

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  7. This book sounds a little too close to home for me. Tempted to read it and afraid at the same time.

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  8. Sounds kind of sad. I'm more into uplifting books right now.

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  9. Sounds very unusual, indeed. But that makes me want to read it now.

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  10. This kinds of sounds like my life, but without the whole obsession part.

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  11. Like the sound of this book. Will have to check it out.

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  12. We need more books that help reduce the stigma of depression.

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  13. It sounds like a very emotional book , I will have to read it :)

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  14. It sounds like there is a lot of drama in this book. It would be a good read.

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  15. What a difficult topic to write about. However, Ms. Mitchell appears to have done an excellent job of portraying her characters and their complex predicament in a realistic yet non-judgmental manner, allowing us to come to our own conclusions.

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  16. Loved the review; very curious about the book.

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