Interview with Hazel Prior

I first discovered Hazel Prior’s books when I read Away with the Penguins a few years ago, which remains one of my all-time favourite books. Her fourth novel is coming out later this year. Hazel kindly took the time to answer my interview questions, which I hope you enjoy.

Which childhood books and authors were your favourites? Do you think they influenced you in wanting to become an author?

I loved, loved, loved the Narnia books by C S Lewis. Like many children, I longed to go to Narnia and to meet Aslan and the other animals. That early enchantment must have cast quite an influence over me. At least, I am writing about wildlife a lot these days. It also made me realise the importance of escaping to an imaginary world, which is something we all desperately need from time to time.

The other book I remember adoring as a child was The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. Animals again! But such characterisation. Through those spotty dogs I experienced what it is to desperately care about fictional characters; also how much we can learn from the way they deal with difficult situations. I was intrigued and started creating my own stories from a very young age. I particularly remember writing Badger’s Adventures and a series starring Harold, who was a very brave beetle.

How did you get your first book published?

I entered the first three chapters for a competition. When they were longlisted, I was asked to send off the rest of the novel, which meant I actually had to write it… within 10 days! I only had a very short, messy, handwritten draft, but somehow I managed to finish it and get it typed up and sent off in time.

Then, since I had a manuscript, I thought I should try and get it published. I found a literary agent through the one-to-one appointments at Winchester Writers’ Festival. That all went pear-shaped, though, and I lost her again nearly a year later when we disagreed about edits. So, rather desperate and disillusioned, I sent out the novel (which became Ellie And The Harp Maker) to more agents. Finally I was signed by the fabulous Darley Anderson, who got me my first two-book deal with Penguin Random House, not to mention publication in America, and (so far) 18 foreign languages.

If you had to write a non-fiction book, what subject or person would it be about?

I know plenty about penguins now, and I find them endlessly entertaining and would never ever tire of research. So, penguins!

How do you come up with titles for your books?

Actually, none of the titles of my books have been chosen by me. What seems to happen is that I suggest something, and my publishers don’t think it will sell and so come up with something else. After throwing ideas back and forth for ages, we settle on something. I love my most recent title, Life And Otter Miracles, which was the brainchild of my editor, Francesca.

When you’re being interviewed about the books you’ve written, do you ever forget the names of your characters?

It’s only happened once so far, with a very minor character. But I think it might happen more and more over time, especially if I end up writing a lot of books. We’ll see!

What’s the strangest thing you have researched (or Googled!) for a book you were writing?

Do penguins snore? (The answer is yes!)

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

I’ve read a lot of wonderful books recently, many that haven’t even been published yet. Probably the best is: The Collected Regrets Of Clover by Mikki Brammer. It’s just so unusual and charming.

What’s your least favourite household chore?

Cleaning up cat sick… with vacuuming the stairs as a close second.

Do you have any rituals when you start writing a new book?

No, I don’t normally have any rituals, but I will go on plenty of walks to think about my plot. There is usually plenty of panic involved too.

Tell us about your latest book/upcoming book/Kindle deals/anything you want to promote.

My next book, Life and Otter Miracles, will be out in mid September. It’s a book club read with a bit of mystery and a big cast of lovable characters, both human and otter. You can pre-order it here:




Thank you so much for having me, Karen!

Published by karenlouisehollis

53, lives in Lincoln, England. Published writer, book blogger and reviewer, mum, grandma, cat owner, vegetarian. Loves reading and sewing. My second novel is out now - a second chance romance set at the seaside - STARTING AGAIN IN SILVER SANDS BAY.

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