Postcard For Reader + TIME

Interview: Mary Hooper

Mary Hooper is here today! Mary's the author of Fallen Grace, which I reviewed yesterday, along with a half a dozen other young adult historical novels. And if there's one thing I like, it's a woman who writes young adult historical novel.

Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby who died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Emmeline Unwin and Mr James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family, who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune.

Just click read more to learn about funeral parlors, writing techniques, and the lovely Mr. Darcy!

Nicole: Fallen Grace is set in a funeral parlor. What sort of research did this entail?
Mary Hooper: I didn't go and work in one! I read lots of books, jolly things like The Victorian Way of Death, A Victorian Celebration of Death and The Victorian Undertaker.

N: Where did the inspiration for Grace (as a character) come from?
MH: I just lined all my research up and thought about what sort of person would manage to deal with all that I was going to throw at her.

N: What's the biggest difference between writing middle grade and writing YA?
MH: With YA I am writing exactly what I, as an adult, would want to read. I don't think about the age of the reader at all. (My editor does, she picks up on any swearing!)

N: You're quite the fan of historical fiction - all of your published young adult novels are set in the past.
MH: No! I have been writing books for twenty odd years, and for the first half I did almost nothing but modern novels (Megan, for instance, about a girl who gets pregnant at 15.)

N: Damn, I knew I was missing one. Anyway, if you could go back in time, where and when would you go?
MH: I like the idea of Restoration London, bawdy and riotous and fun - but I would want to live at Court and be extremely rich.

N: In your 'About Me' on your website, you talk about having written over seventy books, many of which are set in modern day. You say you enjoy writing historical fiction more; however, is it more difficult when it comes to research and such?
MH: More difficult, but also more exciting: highwaymen, countesses and plague rather than i-pods, tablets and kindles.

N: If you could switch spots with any character in any book for a day, which character/book and why?
MH: Um...difficult one, because all my characters have a rough time of it until the end of the book. I think, maybe, I'll pass on switching.

N: It's raining fictional men! Which one would you pluck out of the sky for your own?
MH: Oooh, Mr Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, please. But only after he's fallen madly in love with me.

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Interview: Mary Hooper + TIME