Netta Wilde was all the things Annette Grey isn’t. Netta Wilde was raw, unchecked and just a little bit rebellious. She loved The Clash and she loved being Netta Wilde.
Annette Grey is an empty, broken woman who hardly knows her own children. Of course, it’s her own fault. She’s a bad mother. An unnatural mother. At least, that’s what her ex-husband tells her.
The one thing she is good at …
the one thing that stops her from falling …
is her job.
When the unthinkable happens, Annette makes a decision that sets her on a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. Along the way, her life is filled with friends, family, dogs, and jam. Lots of jam.
Suddenly anything seems possible. Even being Netta Wilde again.
But, is she brave enough to take that final step when the secrets she keeps locked inside are never too far away?
– When and where do you prefer to write?
I prefer to write in the morning, in my office which is actually a converted bedroom. My desk is in a bay window so I can look out at the sky and the trees when I need a bit of clarity for my thoughts. It also faces the back of the houses in the next street. Unfortunately, not quite as inspiring as looking at the sky and the trees but it does occasionally supply an amusing distraction.
– Do you have a certain ritual?
Not so much a ritual as a routine. I find it makes me more productive. I try to do some yoga first thing in the morning. Not necessarily for any spiritual reason. It just works better to do that first. When I finish my morning’s writing I do half an hour on my exercise bike.
– Is there a drink of some food that keeps you company while you write?
Lots of mugs of green tea with orange and lotus flower (it’s by Twinings) and the occasional coffee. I’ll usually have a mid-morning snack to keep me going. Nothing too naughty – probably a few crackers and peanut butter or cream cheese.
– What is your favourite book?
Although I read quite a lot, I don’t really have a favourite author. That said, if someone offered me a Haruki Murakami novel, I wouldn’t say no. I love the way he creates surreal worlds within perfectly normal worlds. His characters are always fascinating too. I also like the way he drops lots of pop culture references into his stories. So far I’ve only read two of his books – Dance, Dance, Dance and Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World – and I loved them both.
– Do you consider writing a different genre in the future?
I tried writing a crime novel once but it was so hard. I’d quite like to get my teeth into a psychological thriller. I have an idea brewing but I’m too busy with the Netta Wilde series at the moment. Maybe one day.
– Do you sometimes base your characters on people you know?
Yes, I do. Not exact copies of people I know but bits of them. For example, there are bits of Annette Grey that definitely came from a good friend.
– Do you take a notebook everywhere in order to write down ideas that pop up?
Not really but if an idea comes to me when I’m not at home, I use my phone to send myself an email. My inbox is full of cryptic little messages that only I understand. I really should get a better system.
– Which genre do you not like at all?
I’d never run any genre down but I suppose one that doesn’t really do anything for me, as a reader, is romance. I’m just not romantically inclined. I’m suddenly aware that sounds like a typical break up line – ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ Very unromantic.
– If you had the chance to co-write a book. Whom would it be with?
Haruki Murakami. Do you think he’d be interested?
– If you should travel to a foreign country to do research, which one would you chose and why?
The next book I’m working on is Finding Edith Pinsent. In Being Netta Wilde, Edith has already died so we only really know her through her diary entries. In this new book we meet her at different stages in her life. At one point in the late 1960s she goes to San Francisco to hang out with the hippies. It would be good to go to have a look round what’s left of the hippy scene in Haight-Ashbury.
Thank you, Hazel Ward and Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the author
Hazel Ward was born in a back-to-back house in inner city Birmingham. By the time the council knocked the house flat and packed her family off to the suburbs, she was already something of a feral child who loved adventures. Swapping derelict houses and bomb pecks for green fields and gardens was a bit of a culture shock but she rose to the occasion admirably and grew up loving outdoor spaces and animals. Especially dogs, cats and horses.
Strangely, for someone who couldn’t sit still, she also developed a ferocious reading habit and a love of words. She wrote her first novel at fifteen, along with a lot of angsty poems, and was absolutely sure she wanted to be a writer. Sadly, it all came crashing down when her seventeen-year-old self walked out of school after a spot of bother and was either too stubborn or too embarrassed to go back. It’s too long ago to remember which. What followed was a series of mind-numbingly dull jobs that paid the bills but did little to quell the restlessness inside.
Always a bit of a smart-arse, she eventually managed to talk herself into a successful corporate career that lasted over twenty years until, with the bills paid and the children grown up, she was able to wave it all goodbye and do the thing she’d always wanted to do. While taking a fiction writing course she wrote a short story about a lonely woman who was being made redundant. The story eventually became her debut novel Being Netta Wilde.
Hazel still lives in Birmingham and that’s where she does most of her writing. When she’s not there, she and her partner can be found in their holiday home in Shropshire or gadding about the country in an old motorhome. Not quite feral anymore but still up for adventures.