May book selection & author |

May book selection & author

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For the month of May, not only shares a novel full of intrigue, drama and friendship in The Shadow Year, by Hannah Richell, but they also share words of wisdom from the author. Read how Richell deals with passion, inspiration and distraction - all while being a noted author and mom.

Written by Hannah Richell

I am sitting at my kitchen table trying to write this short piece as an introduction to my life as a writer. I’m trying to think of something fascinating, something remarkable that might intrigue or amuse you; something that may even convince you to seek out my new book. But the truth is that I’m struggling. As I try to conjure something fabulous to tell you, I find myself distracted by events of a far more domestic nature. My daughter, three-years-old, is going through a ‘puppy’ phase. She appears at my feet, crawling on all fours, asking me to play ‘fetch’. She’s funny and she says ‘please’ so I throw an invisible stick across the room, buying myself a few minutes of quiet, until it’s my son’s turn. ‘Mom! My shark’s tooth has fallen under the sofa.’ Eventually I return to my laptop, shark tooth safely retrieved, but I have little more than moments to write this new sentence before a quarrel over two Lego men and a plastic dinosaur erupts and I am called away to referee once more. It’s days like this when I wish the urge to write had arrived prior to my first pregnancy.

I’ve always kept a diary, scribbling my thoughts into an assortment of journals over the years – but oh! – all those blissfully empty, nothing-much-to-do hours I wasted. What was I thinking? The odd thing is, I still don’t understand how it happened – how I made the leap from office marketing exec to author – but however it occurred, I know it’s somehow inextricably linked with becoming a mom. With motherhood came a fierce new love, a rush of hormones, and the kernel of a story I felt compelled to pursue. I wrote doggedly, cramming words into spare moments, driven by the want or perhaps need, to carve a tiny private space for myself amidst the total abandonment of my body – my time – my life – to raising another person. What began as a loose, freeform experiment became a story about family torn apart by tragedy, and eventually a novel that was lucky enough to find a publisher.

A couple of years on and family remains a solid theme in my writing. My second novel, The Shadow Year, also focuses on the bonds that connect us as humans – the light and shade in our relationships. It’s a novel that explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters and the fierce love and (sometimes) rivalry that can rear up between siblings, which it does so in this particular story with disastrous consequences.

So here I am: a daughter, a sister, a wife, and now a mother too. I’m fortunate that the darkness my characters experience is pure fiction and I’m lucky to be able to claim a few hours each week away from my funny, charming, demanding children to write my stories. But I also know how fortunate I am that my family is there to return to at the end of a working day.

The Shadow Year

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 housemates, it offers an escape, a chance to drop out for a while. 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? And 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? THE SHADOW YEAR is a mesmerizing story of tragedy, lies and betrayal.

Pick up a copy to start off your summer reading, and as always, join throughout the month for lively discussions about The Shadow Year. is an online book club run by busy moms like you. Moms who might not have the time (or energy!) to attend an actual book club, yet want to experience the love of story in a community of people who feel the same way. We choose a book a month that we consider unputdownable. Happy reading!

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