A Quickie with Jaq Hazell

Tell me about your latest book and why we should read it?

My Life as a Bench is about Ren Miller who has died aged seventeen and yet her consciousness lives on, inhabiting her memorial bench by the River Thames in London. Ren longs to be reunited with her boyfriend Gabe, but soon discovers why he has failed to visit. Devastated, she must learn to break through and talk to the living so she can reveal the truth about her tragic end. Recently named as winner of the YA Fiction category in the International Rubery Book Award 2017, judges described My Life as a Bench as ‘Moving and unforgettable’.

If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?

If someone wrote the story of my writing life, the title would be The Long and Winding Road. I’ve been writing for over twenty years and even though my work has been shortlisted for awards and my psychological thriller I Came to Find a Girl was included in the Telegraph’s Best Crime Fiction of 2015 I’m yet to break through.

What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?

After reading I Came to Find a Girl, one lady thanked me for helping her realise that she’d been date raped many years ago. And a girl called Klaudia enjoyed reading My Life as a Bench so much that she made me a little bench (which now sits by my desk).

If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?

I like writing alone, but if I could collaborate with one of the greats I’d choose Emily Bronte, Jane Austen or Margaret Atwood – girl power.

Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).

When I was a kid one of my favourite toys was a rubber skeleton. He cost four pence from the local hardware store and I named him Jeremy Rycraft.

Finally please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.

I’ve recently read a couple of YA classics. Junk by Melvin Burgess is a brilliant illustration of how quickly young lives can spiral out of control through heroin addiction. While, One by Sarah Crossan is about conjoined twins. Written in blank verse, it’s spare, stylish and moving and thoroughly deserves the many prizes it has won. Currently, I’m reading Moondance by Diane Chandler which is about the emotional and physical impact of IVF.

Who is Jaq Hazell: Jaq Hazell’s debut novel, psychological thriller I Came to Find a Girl, was included in The Telegraph’s Best Crime Fiction of 2015, and was also shortlisted for the Virginia Prize for Fiction.

Born near Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, to an Irish mother and an English father, she studied textile design at Nottingham Trent and has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London. She has worked as a journalist and magazine editor. She lives in London.

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