Author Interview: Paula Hawkins


I am absolutely delighted to be a part of the official blog tour for The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Not only have I read and reviewed this incredible book but I was also given the opportunity to interview fantastic debut author, Paula Hawkins. I asked Paula how it felt to have her novel compared to the likes of Gone Girl, the possibility of The Girl on the Train being made into a film, and how it feels to have her first novel released to such acclaim…

Hello Paula, a huge, warm welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?

Thank you for inviting me. I’m a novelist and former journalist, I was born and brought up in Zimbabwe but moved to London in 1989 and have been here pretty much ever since.

Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel, The Girl on the Train (released 15th January 2015)?

The Girl on The Train is a psychological thriller which examines the fine line between normality and the loss of control wrought by addiction. It’s protagonist, Rachel, looks like a ordinary woman as she commutes back and forth from London on the train every day, but Rachel isn’t what she seems. Her behaviour isn’t normal at all, and when she witnesses something shocking on her commute, she becomes dangerously entangled in a mystery to which she believes she holds the key.

I love the synopsis for The Girl on the Train, it sounds absolutely thrilling and I can’t wait to start reading. What inspired you to come up with the idea for the story?

I spent more hours than I’d like to think about shuttling backwards and forwards to various jobs in various parts of London, and many of those hours were spent absently gazing out of the windows at the same streets and the same houses. Every now and again, you’d get a really clear glimpse into someone’s house, and I loved that. I loved imagining what people’s lives were like in those houses. And I started wondering to myself what I’d do if I saw something in one of them – something out of the ordinary, something frightening or shocking. That’s how the germ of the idea for the book came about.

What does it feel like to hear your debut novel compared to the likes of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep?

It’s extremely flattering. Both are excellent books, with beautifully drawn, complex protagonists at their heart. But the comparison is also daunting of course, because it sets up quite a bit of expectation.

Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep have both recently been made into hugely successful films. Is that something you ever envisage for The Girl on the Train?

The Girl on the Train has been optioned by Dreamworks, so yes, I’m very hopeful that one day it will be made into a film. I’d love to see my characters on the screen, it would be thrilling.

Have you read either of those novels yourself? Which types of books and authors do you enjoy reading?

I have read both Gone Girl and Before I Go To Sleep – they are exactly the sort of books I adore. Lately, I’ve also loved Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman, The Silent Wife by ASA Harrison – I could go on and on. I love Tana French, Wiley Cash, Paula Daly, Megan Abbott, Harriet Lane, Evie Wyld – and my favourite of all time is Kate Atkinson.

You originate from Zimbabwe after moving to London in 1989. What made you decide to come to the UK and how do the two countries compare?

I moved over here when I was seventeen – my father, who is an economics professor, came to the UK on sabbatical. I finished my A levels here and then got a place at university in the England, so when my parents went back, I stayed on. Zimbabwe was a wonderful place to grow up, but there weren’t a lot of opportunities for me there career wise: I wanted to be a journalist, and London was the perfect place to pursue that.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?

I started writing The Girl on the Train in early 2013: I wrote the first half of it very quickly, in just a few months – I didn’t do much else other than write during that time, I was a bit obsessed. When I showed it to my agent, Lizzy Kremer, she was very excited about it, but she had me re-writing for another couple of months to get it into shape to show publishers. When I did, I was astounded – there was so much excitement about it, and I had offers from four excellent imprints. I chose to go with Transworld who have done an incredibly job with it: every step – from the brilliant editing job by Sarah Adams (one of the best crime editors in the UK, if not the world!), to the gorgeous design and fantastic publicity campaign – has been an absolute pleasure, start to finish.

How does it feel to have your first novel released into the big, wide world?

Terrifying. Exciting, too.

And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m writing a thriller which centres on the relationship between two sisters, one of whom is dead when the book opens. The book is about the things that happened to these two women in childhood, and how those events have shaped them as people. I’m interested in the way we remember things, in the stories that we tell about ourselves, and the way in which those stories and memories go to make up who we are. I want to examine what happens when someone is forced to confront the fact that some of those stories may not be true at all, that they might be rooted in a lie.

A huge thank you to Paula for answering my questions and to Naomi at Transworld.

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To get hold of your copy of The Girl on the Train click here.

Paula Hawkins | Twitter | Goodreads | Transworld Books |


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