Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Louise Hare Interview - Miss Aldridge Regrets

Photo Content from Louise Hare

Louise Hare is a London-based author. Her debut novel, This Lovely City, was published in the UK to wide acclaim, and was a Between the Covers Book Club Pick on BBC Two. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of London.

What inspired you to pen your novel?
The novel evolved from a short story I wrote while I was studying for a Masters degree in Creative Writing. It was about a jazz singer witnessing a murder at the nightclub where she sings. At the end of the story I sent her off to catch a train to Southampton where she was going to board a ship. Everyone who read the story wanted to know what happened on the ship so I decided to find out!

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My first novel, This Lovely City, was shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize which is a UK prize to recognize a work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that evokes the spirit of a place. I didn’t win but an artist was commissioned to make a short animated film of one of my favourite scenes from the book. I thought it was brilliant, and so unexpected.

Was there a defining moment when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
For a long time I thought that writing would just be a hobby. Meeting other writers made me realise that it could be possible. I also realized that I had a lot of stories that I wanted to tell, that weren’t being published.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Write about something that interests you. I found my niche by thinking about books that I loved but also the books that I would have loved to read if they existed. Similarly, don’t write cynically. I’ve known writers who think that if take something that is popular right now and write their own version, they’ll find it easier to get published. In my experience, this doesn’t work. It takes a long time to write a novel and if your heart isn’t in it, you’ll end up with a book that feels flat.

Can you tell us about some of your upcoming projects?
I’m working on a follow up to Miss Aldridge Regrets which is a lot of fun to write. And I’m also thinking about a novel that I wrote back in 2020 and is set in London in the 1760s. I have a rough draft of it but I know a lot of it needs to be changed. I’m hoping to have time this summer to do some more research and fix the problems.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope it’s fun, more than anything. It was certainly a lot of fun to write! I like to write about issues that interest me. First and foremost, the novel is a murder mystery, but I wanted to talk about what was happening in the world at the time – the rise of fascism, for example. Lena is mixed race but passing as white so I wanted to explore how that makes her feel and how she struggles with her identity.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Lena?
As a character, she came to me almost fully formed but I was surprised at how important the relationship between her and her father became. When the book begins, he’s been dead for nine months or so. I loved writing those moments when Lena is remembering him. Even though he never ‘appears’ in the book, he became really important to understanding Lena.

What was one unforgettable moment while writing MISS ALDRIDGE REGRETS?
Originally I was going to create my own ship. For some reason I thought that would be easier! While I was researching I found a website with all the deck plans of the RMS Queen Mary, along with photographs from 1936. It was a real gift and I realized then that it was ridiculous not to use such an iconic ship in the novel.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d like to introduce Frankie Abernathy to Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby. They’d either become best friends or they’d absolutely hate one another. It could be a recipe for disaster though as they’re both dreadful people.

  • Another Country – James Baldwin
  • The Book of Night Women – Marlon James
  • Kindred – Octavia Butler
  • Fingersmith – Sarah Waters
  • The Nickel Boys – Colson Whitehead
  • Real Life- Brandon Taylor
  • The Binding – Bridget Collins
  • Small Island – Andrea Levy
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  • City of Girls – Elizabeth Gilbert
Meet the Characters
Lena Aldridge – A biracial English nightclub singer looking to start a new life on Broadway. Running from her past…but why? This was my role of a lifetime and, indeed, not every player would make it to their curtain call.

Francis Parker  One of the richest men in America. With his health failing, what will happen to his family… and his money? He might be ancient but retirement seemed far from his mind.

Eliza Abernathy  Francis’s daughter. Likes her cocktails and keeping secrets. Eliza Abernathy, neĆ© Parker, was in her mid-forties, still a stunner as they said round my neck of the woods.

Jack Abernathy  Francis’s son-in-law. Runs the company for him. Things he runs everything else, too. The broken veins in his cheeks marked him out as a drinker even before he called for the waiter to bring more wine for the table and a large whisky for himself.

Frankie Abernathy  Jack and Eliza’s son. The spitting image of his father… unfortunately. I knew his type too well. Handsome, the sort of chap who’s used to women fawning over him.

Carrie Abernathy  Jack and Eliza’s teenage daughter. An innocent… so far. Her body still held the awkwardness of childhood, all elbows and knees and very little in the way of curve, but she walked with an air of confidence.

Charlie Bacon — New York police detective turned assistant to a Broadway impresario. Lena’s ticket to a new life. Charlie Bacon. Who was he? A fixer, he’d called himself. A man who solved problems.

Daisy Lancaster – Francis’s secretary. But what is her relationship with Jack Abernathy? I wondered if she chose to dress in black because she had loved her husband do much, a modern-day Queen Victoria, or if it was more for the dramatic effect. My money was on the latter.

Dr Richard Wilding  Francis’s doctor. Prone to foul moods… and disappearances. His appearance was everything I would have expected: serious expression, dressed smartly but with no regard for fashion, in a tweed jacket, bespectacled. A forgettable face.

The glittering RMS Queen Mary. A nightclub singer on the run. An aristocratic family with secrets worth killing for.

London, 1936. Lena Aldridge wonders if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn't worked out. Instead, she's stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho, and her married lover has just left her. But Lena has always had a complicated life, one shrouded in mystery as a mixed-race girl passing for white in a city unforgiving of her true racial heritage.

She's feeling utterly hopeless until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. After a murder at the club, the timing couldn't be better, and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. But death follows her onboard when an obscenely wealthy family draws her into their fold just as one among them is killed in a chillingly familiar way. As Lena navigates the Abernathy's increasingly bizarre family dynamic, she realizes that her greatest performance won't be for an audience, but for her life.

With seductive glamor, simmering family drama, and dizzying twists, Louise Hare makes her beguiling US debut.

You can purchase Miss Aldridge Regrets at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.