Hannah discovered the power of narrative aged 8.
“I wrote a story about, ‘X’ and my classmates thought it was about one of them. It wasn’t.”
She wrote a journal, every day from aged nine until she met her husband at 24, but she didn’t start writing fiction until she was in her thirties. By this time, she was a theatrical agent, representing prize award winning writers and comedians.
“I wrote romantic comedies on the bus, on a small laptop. Being an agent was fun, but stressful. Writing provided a wonderful balance.”
When Hannah’s second son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, everything changed.
“It was like a bomb in the middle of my life. I had all these different emotions about motherhood and felt a compulsion to write about it.”
Leaving the agency, she enrolled in The Novel Studio course at City University.
“It was a bit like an MA. It was so valuable meeting people doing a similar thing for two nights a week.”
Hannah won the course’s prize, and her debut went on to win the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writing prize. It’s being adapted for TV.
“My husband is writing the script.”
Who is Hannah Begbie.
Date of birth: 1976 in London.
Education: Barbican City of London School for Girls. Cambridge University, history of art.
Family: Husband Tom. Jack, 7, Griffin, 4.
The Day Job: Fulltime writer.
In Another Life: “I’d be a 21st Century version of Alison Moyet.”
Favourite Writers: Maggie O’Farrell; John Cheever; Lorrie Moore; Raymond Carver; Arthur Miller; Edward Albee; Jonathan Franzen.
Second Novel: “I’m in the middle of it. It’s a jump off from the ‘Me Too,’ movement.”
Top Tip: “Keep going through the moments of least belief, because that’s the point where there’s a breakthrough.”
The Debut: Mother. Harper Collins: €8.90 Kindle: €4.44
Devastated when her baby is diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, Cath seeks support. She meets a father, Richard, in a similar situation. She becomes obsessed with him, yet close contact with Richard endangers the life of her baby. Going through a myriad of conflicting emotions, can she hold back from this chance to escape reality?
The Verdict: Simply brilliant! An emotionally charged, heart-stoppingly addictive page turner, which informs, shocks, and entertains.
Published in The Irish Examiner on 8th September.
© Sue Leonard. 2018