All I See Is You | The Way Home | Violet | Alice & Jean
Tell us about your latest book.
My newest novel is set in Dunedin in New Zealand during the Depression. It’s 1932 in the story, a year that saw a lot of marches and riots around the country as unemployed men and women demanded help from the government and local health boards. The Depression was different in NZ than it was in the US, and for many people there was still plenty. But if you were unemployed, your circumstances were dire. Into this walks my main character - a young woman fresh off the boat from England. Unfortunately for Eliza, she’s never been able to read or speak, and her mother died on the way over. Unless Eliza can find someone to help her, she has little chance of surviving.
I challenged myself hugely in this novel - choosing to write a character who cannot speak. It was important that I made her still engaging, so that you almost don’t notice that she cannot speak because she is still so alive on the page.
What’s your writing process?
I keep it extremely simple. A nice, regular routine, where mornings are for writing and I’m done by lunchtime. I usually write for two to three hours five days a week. I have a word count I like to meet, and I start at the beginning of the story and write through to the end. I don’t outline at all and will often begin a novel with little more than the opening scene and an idea of how I want the book to feel to the reader.
Are there themes you like to explore in your books?
I suspect so. While my books are romance more than anything else, I like immersive writing and for me romance is also a handy way of digging deep into human relationships and the necessity of being vulnerable and authentic with each other (and ourselves). Also, I’m big on kindness and responsibility. I don’t tend to write characters who jump to conclusions or allow misunderstandings to surface. Love has a healing quality to it that I think we tend to overlook, and I like to explore this aspect of it in my stories.
Do you listen to music while you write?
I do, and I always have. Back when I was just beginning to write, I would play the same album over and over so that it became a programming thing - when I heard that music, my brain automatically knew it was time to write. I still generally play the same playlist over and over for a book, only swapping to something new when I start another book. And I prefer music that has lyrics. No idea why, but I do catch myself singing along every now and then.
What's your favorite genre to read?
You know, this is a hard one. I used to love horror and suspense, then I read a lot of crime. Now, I’ve found myself casting around trying to find new genres to read. I no longer like graphic violence in books, and I love stories with a domestic setting. I really enjoy that more women write and publish now, because I think we’re getting stories that have those very domestic settings and considerations, and it’s meaningful.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I am working my way through Susan Hill’s Serrailer crime novels that I missed last time I binged on them. I like Susan Hill’s writing so very much. It’s very British, and very quiet, and even her crime novels are very domestic in their setting and outlook. She is a master at characterisation and I’m always looking to learn while I read.
What's the next project and when can we expect it?
I am in the midst of getting ready to launch my novel set in Dunedin in the Depression. It’s titled All I See Is You, and is due out on March 30th, available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. I’m pretty excited to see what people think of the work in which I did several things differently than usual.
Having said that, however, I started writing my next book last week, and so now it’s my favourite thing ever and all I want to think about.
Lily Hammond is a New Zealand writer of historical romances for women who love women. She also writes contemporary romance as Ana McKenzie, and suspense as Kate Genet. She lives in Dunedin, New Zealand - the setting for many of her novels - with her American wife Valerie. When she's not writing her books, she writes inspired synopses and blurbs for other writers, and wishes she had a bunch of exciting hobbies to tell you about. Mostly though, she just reads.