Today, I’m extremely excited to welcome Hayley Webster to the blog. Hayley is the author of the gripping novel Jar Baby, which is all about family secrets. I was also lucky enough to receive a copy to read and review, so keep checking back for that review!
Welcome Hayley to ‘A Book and Tea’, how are you today? I’m tired but glad to have a day off work!
I’m good thanks Clare. Been having a lovely, relaxing Easter weekend with lots of family and food and laughter. My favourite kind of weekend.
Your latest novel ‘Jar Baby’ is about the life of Diana Rickwood and her decision to try and make a life for herself in London. After so many years she finds out a family secret and is in shock with the web of secrets. Where did the idea for the story spring from?
It sounds gruesome, but the whole book started with a very vivid image in my mind of a fetus in a jar – like Victorian hospitals had lined up in rows in storage cupboards. I wrote a description of a baby in a jar, just that, and from there this whole story of where the baby had come from and all these people linked to it sort of appeared around that one image.
Diana’s childhood is spent living near the seaside, did you like going to the beach when you were younger or do you wish you went more often?
I love the sea. And I love the coast. As an adult I like the bleaker parts, with the angry wind and sand and the fierce waves. But I also love seaside towns, especially Norfolk ones like Wells Next The Sea, as there’s this feeling of life being very potent there. I love taking my daughter to the sea now. My parents used to take me to traditional seaside towns in the holidays, like Great Yarmouth, or Bournemouth – and I loved everything about them; thee garishness of the colours and the sand and the ice creams and the fact my sister and I would get something like a Gordon the Gopher, or a glitter wig – something totally outside our normal reality.
I’m very excited to read Jar Baby because I’m a sucker for a family secret, without giving too much away, is it a shocker?
It’s about as shocking as family secrets can be, really. But I’ve learned that all families have secrets, and most of them are far more dark, ridiculous and shocking than anything you find in fiction.
Did you always know you wanted to write a novel or was it a spur of the moment kind of thing?
I have always wanted to write, since very young. I’ve always been an avid reader – my mum started teaching me when I was three, and I think a lot of readers become writers by the very fact their heads are full of narratives and voices and stories. I didn’t know I wanted to write about a baby in a jar. That definitely felt like a spur of the moment thing!
Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
My book deal with Dexter Haven is for three books and I am working on my next book, which is quite different, called Oracle Street about people living on a particular street where a huge crime has been committed and how they all suspect each other in the aftermath. However that could change as I do tend to write several things at once.
If you could have written any book in the world (besides your own) what would it be and why?
For its sheer brilliance of ideas, romance, feeling and vastness of intellect and emotion I would have loved to have written Possession by A.S. Byatt. It’s just so good. She wrote all the poetry in it, created all these characters in past and present, explored intellectual ideas and yet it’s got such heart – it makes me cry – and it’s just unbelievable.
No interview is complete without a few questions about tea. Firstly, how do you take your tea? Secondly, do you have a favourite mug? And finally, do you love having biscuits when you drink a cup?
I like my tea strong, with only a dash of milk. Skimmed milk as I hate gloopy tea! I I prefer it in a mug with a white inside as it looks more drinkable for some reasons, and I always drink it when it’s really hot. I can’t be doing with cold tea! I do have a favourite mug. It’s white, with blue flowers on it, and it is huge. Like a bed pan. Tea throughout the day never comes with biscuits, but after supper in the evening I love a big cup of tea with some ginger nuts or custard creams. Perfect wind down!
About the Author
Hayley Webster was born in 1977 and grew up in Berkshire. After the death of both her parents, she studied Literature at the University of Essex and then a Creative Writing MA at UEA and has worked in magazine publishing and as a teacher. She writes about art, fashion, food, philosophy, friendship, family secrets, and why we do the things we do. She cannot resist a good mystery. She lives in Norwich with her family, and thinks there is nothing quite like staring up at a vast, Norfolk sky.
Find out more about Hayley on Twitter at @HayleyBooks.
About Jar Baby
Diana Rickwood’s isolated childhood by the sea with her uncle, Rohan, a celebrated Fashion Designer, is dramatically shaken up by the arrival of Rohan’s ‘muse’ model Stella Avery. Diana severs her links with her past and moves to London, trying her best to forget. But ten years on, Rohan’s sudden death forces her to look again at that past, to dig beneath the surface. What she finds is shocking; a web of secrets and half truths that hide a family shame – but also reveal a poignant hidden love story.