Author Interview: Cary J Hansson

Meet Cary J Hansson and read more about her bestselling debut novel on Amazon, A Midlife Holiday. Impressive to say the least. Cary’s an ex-dancer, actress, waitress, cleaner, TV presenter, double-glazing sales rep, fax machine operator (what’s a fax machine?). You name it and she’s cleaned it, served it, sent it or sold it.

Book Summary: Helen Winters worries the walls are closing in. With her children grown and her husband literally climbing Mt. Everest on her fiftieth birthday, she regrets not taking the more daring paths she dreamed about in her youth. So when a well-meaning gift reveals a depressing image of her future, she takes a leap of faith and jets off to Cyprus for a vacation with her two lifelong friends.

Basking in the glorious sunshine and crystal-blue waters while enjoying the attention of handsome European men, Helen starts to feel truly alive. But one of her best friends isn’t in Cyprus for the sunshine, and when Helen learns the true reason, tensions threaten their lifelong bond leaving Helen to wonder if she can she shake off years of disappointment and claim her well-deserved happiness.

A fantastic page-turner filled with humour, life lessons and enlightenment.” Readers Favorite

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your published book (s).

I’m a 55 yr. old mum of three. Twins of twenty,  and a late-life baby, who is now eleven (do the math!). I’m English,  but I’ve lived in Stockholm, Sweden for ten years. My debut, A Midlife Holiday, revolves around an impromptu holiday, three life-long friends take. The story focuses on friendship, how important but also how fragile it is; how it changes as we grow older and how compromises must be made – especially because the character who arranged the holiday has a secret (and controversial) reason for going. When the secret is revealed , it causes such a shock the friendship itself is threatened. Along the way are plenty of laughs and a middle-aged romance as the leading character rediscovers the joy in life.

Tell us about the genre you like to write, and how is it similar / different from other women fiction genres?

Well it’s not romance. And it’s not historical fiction and it’s not aimed at younger women. So where does that leave me?

Perhaps a reviewer of mine can explain it better. “This is chick lit, grown up and middle aged. Redefining what it is to be in our prime.”

All my heroines save themselves.  So I think straight away there’s a big difference to traditional romance fiction. And my books are set in today’s world, so don’t expect petticoats or steam engines. And so far, all of my work centers around female friendship. Have you ever heard of the Bechdel test? It was first applied to the representation of women in films and to pass, a film had to have the following criteria: two women, who are named characters, talking to each other about something other than a man. Crazy simple, isn’t it? Do you know how many films that we all grew up with fail? Nearly all of them. I don’t know about you, but when I’m  with my girlfriends we have far far better things to chat about other than men! Suffice to say every one of my books would pass this test with flying colors. My girlfriends get me through, and we really haven’t seen anywhere near enough literary focus on the truly life-sustaining force that is female friendship.

What are some of the biggest challenges hen lit authors face today?

Well if they’re anything like me it will be finding the time to write, in-between looking after elderly parents, obstinate teens and hapless husbands. That, and the continuing battle to have the literary world take us seriously. Small ordinary lives are as every bit as heroic and worthy of examination, as the traditional hero narrative.

Given the ongoing popularity of chick lit, where do you see hen lit ten years from now?

It’s going to carry on. Today’s midlifers are only just getting started. Expect more and more books about the truth about being a grandmother for example, the reality of in-laws and extended families as you’ve touched upon yourself Carolyn. These stories are funny and brave and fascinating and touching and women love them,  and its women who buy the books!

When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a writer?

At forty I started a higher education programme with an aim to go onto university. I vividly remember the tutor saying to me that I could write a book. I thought the idea was preposterous. As I say in my bio, I’ve been far too busy living, to sit down and start writing. But I did go to university and I came out with a First-class degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and I sat down and started. Ten years and seven books later I’m still writing, I still love it and I’m nowhere near finished saying what I want to say. So … somewhere in all that I guess is the answer!

Do you have a day job other than being a writer?

 No. I made a deal with my husband that this was what I wanted to devote the time to. It sounds like a dream. The reality, once you add in rejection and isolation (writing is a lonely business) is far from that.

What are some things that inspire you to write?

Women. In real life and the stories we tell each other.  I once watched a woman, in a cafe,  spoon-feed her severely disabled adult son. She was fully made up, jewellery, eyelashes the works. And I was sat in sweat pants. I cried, over her bravery and sheer will to keep going in the face of what had to be incredibly difficult circumstances. This inspires me – I want to tell her story, shout it from the rooftops so everyone can see what I’m seeing. My mother also is an incredible story teller (or source of gossip, to put it another way). Plus,  one of my books was inspired by the tragic story a mother at my son’s nursery once told me. I’m always listening, always watching.

What is your typical writing routine like?

I used to start straight away at 8am and work through to approx. 12. Now I make sure I walk or do yoga or swim first. I swim in the sea year-round and can thoroughly recommend it. But the creative writing is always done in the mornings. Mon- Fri.

What kind of message do your book (s) convey to readers?

Take responsibility.

It’s never too late.

Live. Love. Laugh … corny but true.

Does your book (s) incorporate certain aspects of your own life (and / or that of others)?

Ah,  well there are always stories that I weave in, little events that have happened. But generally no, what I write is fiction.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

Lucia Berlin and Jean Rhys are my favourite writers of all time. Rhys was writing 100 years ago, yet if you read Good Morning Midnight today it’s incredibly modern. It still resonates. Lucia Berlin … well … What a life,  and what a style she had. You’ve whipped through a short story of Berlins before you’ve even picked your coffee cup up. That’s talent. Who else? Elizabeth Strout, Kate Atkinson, Jane Green, Terry McMillan.

Any advice you’d like to give for aspiring writers at this stage in life?

Sit down and start writing. It really is as simple as that.

Bio:
Cary is a fifty something mum of three, an ex-dancer, actress, waitress, cleaner, TV presenter, double-glazing sales rep, fax machine operator (what’s a fax machine?) You name it and she’s cleaned it, served it, sent it or sold it. After years of globe-trotting and messing about, she settled down to a BA in Literature and Creative Writing, got a First Class and promptly moved to Sweden to start her own mid-life adventure. She swims in the Baltic sea year round, paddle-boards under midnight suns and has learned to sail.
The author of six books and several short stories, Cary’s work has been shortlisted in national and international competitions. She writes stories about ordinary people, living lives of extraordinary courage and indestructible humour. She promises only two things: no knights in shining armour and no flying cars. Her characters save themselves, as in the end we all must do.

To learn more visit: www.caryjhansson.com

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