~ Hazel Harps On

Ups, Downs and Disbelief

Would you believe it? My debut novel, ‘Ellie and the Harp Maker’ is spreading across the world! August saw its publication in both the US and Canada. AND I’ve received my first foreign language edition of the book. It’s out in Serbia!

Here's Purrsy showing off my US hardback.

The beautiful Serbian edition (and how I love having all those cool extra Js in my name…)

I’m beginning to realise that the success of a novel lies not only in the ability of an author to capture the imagination of her readers, but also in the hard work of the marketing team. My US team at Berkley has been absolutely phenomenal. Thanks to the efforts of the lovely Tara, Danielle, Jessica and Fareeda E&THM has featured in countless literary publications, websites and newspapers including The Washington Post, no less! (Read the review here). And thanks to the fabulous Ruta of Viking Canada, who arranged for me to meet a certain very important journalist in London, 13 major newspapers across Canada have run this interview.

Photos people have kindly sent: E&TH on sale in New York and Toronto

Even more touching are the emails I’ve received from people I don’t know, thanking me for writing the book, telling me how they love my characters Dan, Ellie and Phineas the pheasant. A few have said the book has helped them get through a hard time - how utterly humbling and heart-warming!

Given all of this I should be happy through and through, all made up of happy particles. But at the moment I’ve got a severe attack of Imposter Syndrome. The popularity of book one must be a fluke, mustn’t it? I got lucky. Book two, which I’m currently in the throes of editing, will surely be a massive flop?

'Throes' is the correct technical term here, because, much as I love the story and characters, I’m having a real tussle with those edits. You know how upsetting it can be when you’re criticised? Well, hearing back from editors is basically receiving 500 criticisms all all at once. And you can’t just let them bounce off you; you have to mull over each and every criticism to see what you can do about it. Yes, you know the book will emerge much stronger in the end but the process can be painful, like having to perform multiple surgical transplants and amputations on a loved one.

While I’m in whinge mode, I’ll just mention that my foot continues to give me grief. I’m in the habit of taking Exmoor walks when in need of inspiration, but now I (sob) physically can’t. I shall definitely blame my left foot if book two is a disaster.

As for the harp… alas, I’ve had to put off several gigs. But there are some gigs you can’t cancel. I forced myself into shoes (ouch!) and played surprisingly well for several hours at a wedding in Taunton. I also couldn’t bring myself to disappoint one of the lovely groups of Care Home residents I’ve grown to know so well. To them I’m not an author, I’m just the messy-haired harpist who comes to visit every month with a collection of jolly songs. “I’ve learned a new one,” I told them last week. “I hope you like it.” “We love everything you do,” one of the ninety-year-olds answered. Well, that was some boost! And there I was again, transported straight back to the summit of Happy Mountain…

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