On a sultry summer's day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again...
Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can't she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?
Hannah Richell's Secret Of The Tides was one of the most widely praised fiction debuts of 2012. Her new novel is an equally captivating story of secrets, tragedy, lies and betrayal told with the same sure touch and ability to capture the light and dark of relationships.
Hannah Richell was born in Kent and spent her childhood years in Buckinghamshire and Canada. After graduating from the University of Nottingham she worked in the book publishing and film industries. She now lives with her husband and two young children in Sydney.
The Shadow Year
Author: Hannah Richell
Question: Did the success of Secret Of The Tides inspire you to continue writing?
Hannah Richell: It did because in getting a publishing deal for Secret Of The Tides they wanted to buy two books which meant I could treat writing more as a professional job opposed to a private hobby which was incredibly motivating. Even more motivating was the deadline that they set me. It was amazingly motivating.
Question: What inspired the idea of The Shadow Year?
Hannah Richell: The first thing that came to me was a setting and I don't know where it came from. I started thinking about an abandoned cottage which was completely fictional and came to me as an image; the abandoned cottage was beside a lake in a very remote place in the English countryside. I started to think about the cottage and who might have lived there and it was that which started me on The Shadow Year and what became the whole plot of The Shadow Year. I think I was interested in moving away from writing about family relationships which is what Secret Of The Tides, my first novel was about, and exploring the relationships of a group of close knit friends. I found in doing that by the end of the story the group of friends become this dysfunctional family unit anyways and they take on these different personalities. It was an interesting experience writing about friendships opposed to families specifically.
Question: How did you go about creating the character of Lila?
Hannah Richell: There are two strands of the story and one is set 30 years previously and Lila's story is a present day story and she really was somebody who I wanted readers to be able to connect with. She is a young women and when the book opens she is living in London but going through a difficult time in her life as her marriage is really in crisis because of where she is at, in her life and it's her journey that takes you through the book and by circumstances she ends up at the same cottage that this group of friends have been at, 30 years before and she unravels the history of what happened at this very remote place. Lila is probably the character that is most like me in that I used to live in London, she is of a similar age and I wanted her to be a character that felt really relatable to the reader.
Question: Did you have a specific audience in mind when you wrote the book?
Hannah Richell: Not really, for me I love to loose myself in the story as I write and I don't think I write specifically for somebody, a particular market or a particular reader. For me the whole process of writing is about taking the thread of an idea and seeing where it takes you. It's always kind of interesting once the novel is finished to re-read it which is like a whole new experience of discovering it, again. I don't write for a specific reader but I write the kind of books I would enjoy reading, myself. I like books that have a sense of mystery to them and a certain unravelling that is similar to a puzzle that you have to piece together.
Question: Are you working on another book?
Hannah Richell: I am in the process of pulling together my ideas for my third novel. I am a little distracted by the release of The Shadow Year which is obviously a very exciting time and I've given myself a few weeks to let that happen and as soon as things are a little quieter I can throw myself into the next book.
The Shadow Year
Author: Hannah Richell