Get to Know Harriet Innes, the Author of our new YA Fiction 'The Chronograph'


Introducing Harriet Innes, the Author of the exciting scientific, historical, romantic fiction; The Chronograph. We are delighted to announce this 2022 publication, and let our readers know more about the person behind the writing!


We caught up with Harriet to find out what inspires her, how she found the process of writing her debut novel, and what she gets up to in her spare time... other than writing of course!



What inspired you to start writing/how long have you been writing?

I was an avid reader as a child. I always had my nose in a book and would spend hours in my room doing nothing but read. I can remember my Dad quietly opening my bedroom door if he hadn’t seen me in ages, to see if I was okay – because I would literally lose track of time. I had a very active imagination and would act out all kinds of adventures with friends during break time at school. So, I think it was natural that I also loved to write my own stories and particularly enjoyed creative writing in English lessons at school. I was also very involved in music and then acting as I got older, interpreting other people’s writing and learning how that felt and what I connected with emotionally – all of which has helped me as a writer. Then, as I focused more on my business career, I forgot about writing. But when a business coach suggested I tap into my creativity more, I wrote a poem. And then the poem unlocked a story in my head. And then the story tumbled onto paper, and The Chronograph was born.


When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Telling myself I’m a writer is something I have to do every day. Especially because it hasn’t been my main career to date. So I would say that although I’ve written The Chronograph, I’m still in the process of transitioning to feeling that I can really call myself a writer – even though it’s something I love and I’ve actually produced a finished novel!


 

"...if you immerse yourself in the richness the world has to offer and couple that with a healthy observation of human nature, opportunities for the next story will always present themselves."


 

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I fall into the category of people who write very organically. In fact, I see whole scenes play out like a movie in my head. I can see the characters, what they look like, what the environment is like, I can hear what they’re saying. I write what I see and hear in my mind’s eye as it unfolds. I’m not sure if it’s a quirk, but people seem to find it interesting!


What does success mean to you? What is your definition of success?

Someone once told me that the main thing to make sure you do as a writer is to actually finish the book you’re writing! That may sound obvious, but it’s true that there are so many stories that are started and lay half-finished in your notebook or on your computer – I have a few of those! So actually finishing the book is a success in its own way. I think if you can manage to stay authentic to yourself during the course of your writing, that’s also a success. And finally, if you find an audience whose lives you’ve impacted positively by bringing some pleasure and enjoyment through your story – that’s the ultimate success.


What’s the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

I think what surprised me the most was how characters would walk onto the page and present themselves to me. They would almost take over the telling of the story themselves. I found that if I allowed my pen to follow their lead, then the story would unfold more naturally. The worst thing I could do was fight the flow.


Where do you get your inspiration?

With The Chronograph, it was based on a poem I wrote as part of a creativity exercise. Some of the specific incidents in the book were triggered by things I experienced or saw, or by the specific time I was writing. For example, there is a scene in which hummingbirds make an appearance, that was inspired by watching them in my back yard when I was living in California. The Battle scene was written around Remembrance Sunday. Overall, I’m a real lifelong learner and I’m fascinated by many things – history, spirituality, quantum physics and the universe, philosophy, art, old movies – if my interests were animals, I’d have a menagerie! I believe that if you immerse yourself in the richness the world has to offer and couple that with a healthy observation of human nature, opportunities for the next story will always present themselves.

 

"I write what I see and hear in my mind’s eye as it unfolds."



Can you share a snippet that isn’t in the blurb or excerpt?

Through quirks of time, the relationships between the main characters are not all they seem. And that’s all I’m saying!


Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?

I’m super-fond of Sebastian. He’s such a plucky kid and doggedly loyal to Lorna. I was rooting for him all the way through the book.


What is the key theme and/or message in the book?

It really is a good old-fashioned story about good versus evil, and courage in the face of adversity. It’s no more complicated than that really.


What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

I loved to read – and still do -almost as a form of escapism by immersing myself in a different world. So I hope The Chronograph offers readers that same opportunity to put the real world on hold for a short while. I didn’t particularly set out to address any specific contemporary or moral issues – I just wanted to write the kind of adventure that I used to enjoy when I was younger. So maybe this will take some readers back to the kind of stories they used to enjoy as well. Overall, I just want people to enjoy the story and feel uplifted at the end.


Who is your favourite author and why?

That is such a difficult question because – as in other areas of my life – I have a broad range of interests. I haven’t broken the childhood habit of reading anything I can lay my hands on. Hence, I love the classics – Jane Austen is incredibly witty and a very astute observer of her times. Joanna Trollope is another amazing observer of human nature and relationships. Philip Pullman, Tolkien, CS Lewis – amazing world-builders and story tellers. A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh is so much better appreciated as an adult! And I love any good detective/mystery story.


What book is currently on your bedside table?

Long Summer Day by RF Delderfield (first in the A Horseman Riding By trilogy), Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie, and The Future of God by Deepak Chopra. I’m quite an eclectic book hopper!


What is your favourite quote?

I’m not sure who said it, but it’s along the lines of remembering that we’re called “human beings” for a reason, and not “human doings.” I love this because it reminds us that we should take time to pause and just be in the moment with ourselves, rather than running around like headless chickens all the time. Being is what brings the inner peace many of us crave.


 

"Being is what brings the inner peace many of us crave."


 

Which famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

Assuming this is a “living or dead” question, I’d ask Agatha Christie. She is brilliant at plot and pacing, and her work is as popular today as it ever was. I wish I had the kind of brain that could write murder mysteries – I think they’re fascinating. I hope one day that something I write will have the kind of longevity her work does.


How many bookshelves are in your house?

Nowhere near enough!


What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Reading! Plus I do yoga, play a little flute and piano, and I like doing counted cross-stitch and crochet. Sometimes I’ll just kick back, close my eyes, and listen to opera. Anything that takes me out of myself and my day for a while.


Favourite artist and favourite song?

So, so, difficult. Can I do a Top Five? I’d include Life on Mars by David Bowie, I’ll Stand By You by the Pretenders, The Chain by Fleetwood Mac, ABBA’s Fernando, and Come Undone by Duran Duran. Oh rats, I forgot Bridge Over Troubled Water. Sorry, make that six!


If you could choose three people to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Assuming alive or dead, then I’d say the Dalai Lama, for his wisdom, and John Lennon, who I’ve always found to be fascinatingly enigmatic. The third person isn’t famous, and I won’t name her, but she’s someone I’ve worked with over the years – suffice to say she is not only smart and a very deep thinker but also has amazing humility. I could listen to her all day. Daniel Craig can be butler for the evening. You shouldn’t need to ask why!

 






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