Michelle Paver lunch at Le Pont de la Tour

People - Books Thursday, 24 January 2019

Wakenhyrst, due for a big push from Head of Zeus, is 'my most personal story'

Le Pont de la Tour, the grand venue for Head of Zeus' pre-publication lunch for Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (standing in the photo), reminded the author that, not too far from there, she had practised her first career as a lawyer. "20 years ago, I escaped!" she exulted. It has proved to be a good move. There followed the multi-million selling Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series as well as other acclaimed novels for adults and children. Now comes Wakenhyrst, a compelling gothic novel that HoZ and PR company ED-PR are, in her words, "working their socks off" to market, promote and sell.

Wakenhyrst was, Paver told the lunch guests, "my most personal story" - particularly in the character of teenager Maud Stearne, who has to survive an isolated existence in the Fens before the First World War with a lustful, misanthropic and increasingly disturbed father. Maud is based on Paver's Belgian grandmother's stories about the women in the family: "They were tough, and they had to be, because the men were horrible."

The novel reunites Paver with Fiona Kennedy, now running HoZ's children's list but editor at Orion of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - also known, after the first volume, as the Wolf Brother novels. "It's such a joy working with Fiona again," Paver said. "The six years we spent on Wolf Brother were the highlight of my publishing career."

Paver is a technophobe, or perhaps techno-sceptic: she does not do email, and she works on a 20-year-old computer, backing up her work on floppy disks. But her agent Peter Cox has persuaded her to get a more modern machine for a monthly video series, Michelle LIVE, in which she engages with her many dedicated fans. A good few more will get the chance to meet her when she goes on tour at publication of Wakenhyrst in April.

Guests at the lunch included Antonia Senior (Times), Alexandra Heminsley (Grazia), Joe Haddow (BBC Radio 2), Cathy Slater (Dulwich Books), Dan Kelly (Hatchards), Jen Heard (Amazon), Dean Drew (Blackwell's), Emma Draude (Ed-PR), and Peter Cox (Redhammer); while HoZ fielded Fiona Kennedy, Dan Groenewald, Nikky Ward, Suzanne Sangster, and Natalie Audley.

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