Saturday 16 November 2019

Write side... with novelist Hazel Gaynor


Hazel Gaynor
Hazel Gaynor
Kim Bielenberg

Kim Bielenberg

Novelist Hazel Gaynor on her new book 'The Cottingley Secret' and how Arthur Conan Doyle was away with the fairies.

How did you end up writing a novel about fairies?

It was my agent who suggested writing the story of the Cottingley fairies. It is based on events that happened in Yorkshire, where I am from. It is based on the true story of two girls who claimed to have seen fairies at the bottom of their garden in 1917.

Why did people take their claims seriously?

In order to prove there were fairies, the girls borrowed a camera and staged photographs. One of them had made drawings. She cut them out, and put them in the ground.

When did the fairy photos become famous?

They fell into the hands of Arthur Conan Doyle, who published them with a magazine article. The fairy photographs became a sensation.

Do you think we have reached a fairy moment now?

When the photographs became famous, it was just after the World War I, and people were devastated by what had happened. With Donald Trump and what is happening in Korea, people are ready to escape into this charming world.

So will we be following Danny Healy-Rae, who claimed that the little people caused a dip in the road in Kerry?

It's easy to laugh about fairies affecting the condition of the N22. What is behind that is the ancient connection we have to sacred places - fairy trees and fairy forts. Our ancestors really did respect them. Mess with them at your peril.

When did you move to Ireland?

My husband is Irish and I came here in 2001. We now live in Kilcullen in Co Kildare.

How did your first novel, a story about the 'Titanic', end up as a bestseller in America?

I originally self-published The Girl Who Came Home as an e-book, and it sold 100,000. About a year afterwards I was contacted by an agent, and it was published by HarperCollins. It was absolutely thrilling when it hit the New York Times bestseller list.

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