Hazel Gaynor talks about THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY
The Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor is a fascinating historical novel that touches on intense and compelling themes where dreams really do come true. Readers will take the adventurous journey with the main characters as they struggle with love, hope, loss, and healing, within the backdrop of World War I.
Elise Cooper: Why did you decide to write about this era?
Hazel Gaynor: I worked with author Heather Webb on an anthology, Fall Of Poppies, which was set around Armistice Day of World War I. This overlapped with the manuscript for this book. It is set in the 1920’s, just after the Great War ended. I am fascinated and love the Roaring Twenties. There was so much social change and I liked researching how the war affected this new decade.
EC: Were you inspired by it?
HG: Yes. Women’s roles changed dramatically. The Great War opened their eyes to a new way of life when they entered the work force. For many it became impossible to return to a life in domestic service after the relative freedoms of factory or office work. The war also challenged the accepted social norms for young ladies. Many volunteered as nurses or had to manage without their husbands and sons, so that they became more independent, including fighting for the vote.
EC: Did you think the Savoy was a supporting character?
HG: Yes, people in the book and in the real world talk about it as a living, breathing character. It is a place where things were happening, where people came and went, with lots of interesting drama.
EC: One of the themes of the book was loss. Please explain.
HG: There was this loss of innocence. Remember the famous line as soldiers went off to war, ‘It will be over by Christmas.’ The families left behind the lost years together. Many waited for four years for loved ones to come home, and physically they might have, but the person once known, no longer existed. The lost years created a period of separation that placed an emotional strain on the loved ones. Typically history does not write about the women left behind on the home front, which is why I wrote the backstory of Dolly. Many were haunted by the loss of the life they had hoped to have. Unfortunately, people did not talk about how they felt. Instead, having to endure a stiff upper lip and a get on with it attitude.
EC: Are you a fan of My Fair Lady because it seems to have a similar storyline?
HG: My second novel, A Memory Of Violets, was inspired by the play Pygmalion. The character Eliza Doolittle always fascinated me. She started me thinking about the flower sellers in Victorian London. In this book, there is the teacher, Loretta May, and the pupil, Dolly. I do not think I did it consciously, but was organically influenced by the play, although I changed the male teacher to a strong woman. I definitely work things out in my subconscious thoughts. Those silent hours are so vital for letting early ideas percolate and for solving plot issues when you are in the depths of re-writes and edits.
EC: Can you describe your main characters?
HG: I wanted to write strong women who were not victims and were in charge of their own identity. They are not needy of a man to take care of them. My descriptions of the characters:
DOLLY: Gutsy, plucky, ambitious, honest, and nice.
LORETTA: Charming, assertive, loyal, and supportive
TEDDY: He had mental scars. Wounded, honest, generous, and giving.
PERRY: A follower, troubled, the black sheep, and complex.
EC: What do you want the readers to get out of the book?
HG: The same things I get out of a book. The love of reading. To get excited and be passionate. To be entertained, using it as an escape, with precious me time.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book projects?
HG: Coming out next year about this time is a book that is part historical novel and part present day. It is inspired by a true story that took place in 1917. Two girls jokingly claimed they photographed two fairies in their garden. But it somehow snowballed after falling into the hands of the Sherlock Holmes author. Another book out Fall 2017 will be co-authored with Heather Webb entitled, Last Christmas In Paris. It is in letter format between the two main characters spanning 1914 – 1918. It is a love story about a young English woman and a soldier who promise to spend Christmas together in Paris until the Great War sends them on different paths. We will write the relationship between a male and female where we respond to the other person’s spontaneity.