18 March 2010

Interview: TARA HYLAND, the author of Daughters of Fortune + GIVEAWAY - Win one of FIVE copies!

Scroll down to see how you can be
one of the FIVE people who will win
a trade paperback copy
of this fantastic debut!

Some of you may remember how much I enjoyed Tara Hyland's debut novel DAUGHTERS OF FORTUNE and for those of you who missed it, you can read my review here.
Now comes the good news: I got to interview the author (yay!), which is fantastic as I'm fascinated by authors and I love asking them questions, it's such an honour!
Want even more good news? The book is officially out today (HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, TARA!) so feel free to grab your copy!
And now without further ado, here is the interview, in which Tara provides some fascinating answers about her inspiration, reserach, deleted characters, her gorgeous covers, publishing advice, her next book and more ... Read on!

1. On your website, you say you wanted to write the kind of book you enjoy reading with a strong storyline and an escapist edge - you did an excellent job at that, but how did you get the inspiration to feature three daughters of a fashion mogul? Are they based on any real people?
I came up with the idea for Daughters of Fortune when I was reading another book actually, which was also about siblings fighting over a fashion business, but it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, so I decided to have a go at coming up with my own. I was actually going to set the book around a jewellery dynasty to begin with, as Tiffany & Co used to be one of my clients when I worked in finance, but then another author used a jewellery business, so I settled on fashion instead.
In terms of the characters, from the beginning I wanted all three girls to be very different, each with their own issues, but all equally compelling. I originally just thought of them in terms of a few words - very ambitious, driven Elizabeth; gentle, naive Caitlin, who inadvertently becomes a rival to Elizabeth; and damaged, wild child Amber. From there, it was about coming up with plausible reasons why they were so different, even though they are related, as I wanted them to feel believable. While none of the girls are based on real people, when I was writing the novel, there was quite a lot in the media on Kate Moss / Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse / Blake Fielder, which echoed the Amber and Johnny relationship. But that was just a coincidence - I'd already written them in as characters. I suppose it's quite a familiar story - the girl who is so in love with a guy that she doesn't realise how bad he is for her, even though everyone else can see it.

2. The story starts in the 1970s and ends in the 2000s and tackles both business and fashion so I imagine you must've done quite a bit of research. What research methods did you use and what were some of the most fascinating things you discovered during your research?
Yes - there was an awful lot of research involved! - on the changing times and locations, as well as the business and fashion. In terms of the business side, I worked in finance for the best part of a decade, and I had mainly retail clients, so that was just from general knowledge. I've also been lucky to do a lot of travelling in my life, so I've visited many of the locations mentioned; for example, my husband spent a year in Tokyo back in 1997/98, and I went to visit him a couple of times, so I know Japan quite well. On the fashion side, I also read a couple of books: The House of Gucci by Sara Gay Forden, which gave me a feel for the rivalries within a family-run fashion house, and How Fashion Works by Gavin Waddell, which helped with the details of Caitlin's fashion course. And the rest was just down to imagination!
The most interesting thing I found out during my research was about Belleville, the artistic area where my Paris scenes are set. Originally I was going to use Saint Germain, but it felt a bit passé. As I looked into the art scene in Paris, I stumbled across Belleville in an article online, and it seemed like a much more alternative, cutting-edge place - especially in the early nineties, when that part of the books is set.

3. On your website, you also talk about how you got published and you also say you had to make the book far shorter than it originally was. Can you reveal any of the scenes that were deleted?
Yes - the book got a lot shorter! The first draft that I sent into my agent, back in January 2008, was 220,000 words long, and he said that he wouldn't submit it to publishers until it was cut to 150,000 words - that meant losing a whole 30% of the manuscript! One of the big things that I cut out was a character called Rupert, who provided the basis for a love rivalry between Elizabeth and Caitlin (Elizabeth was in love with him, but he preferred Caitlin, who then preferred Lucien - yes, it was quite complicated, and it was probably a good thing that it went!)

4. Which five words would you use to describe your book?
Fashion, glamour, secrets, wealth, passion.

5. How did the gorgeous UK and US covers come about? Did you have any say in them? Can you share any interesting stories on how the covers were designed?
The UK cover was originally quite different. I saw a first draft in July 2009, and it had a white background, with three blank-faced girls, full-length on the cover, strolling side-on off the page. Apparently they were meant to be the three daughters in the novel, strutting down a catwalk. I hated it! The girls on the cover all looked the same, almost like mannequins, which seemed weird, as everyone always comments on how the three main characters are so different, especially in the way they look and dress. It looked more like a cover for a book about modelling. So I wrote a long email saying how much I disliked it, and that for me it didn't capture the spirit of the book - and then found out that no one agreed with me! I felt very much like the lone voice of dissent, and honestly, I really didn't think anything was going to change. Then two months later, I received a new draft of the cover - and it was the one you see today! I couldn't believe how different it was! I was quite amazed (and grateful) that my publishers had listened to my concerns and gone away and totally reworked the design. And now it looks wonderful!
The US cover was a lot more straightforward. The one you see is pretty much the same as the first draft. They wanted a Gossip Girl feel, and also to capture the idea of upper class Englishness, and I think that's what they've done perfectly.

6. If your book was turned into a film, which actresses and actors would you ideally like to see playing your main characters?
Ooo - I like this question! Mainly because I love movies / TV almost as much as books! There's quite a big cast of characters in my book, so I'll just go with the three sisters:
Elizabeth - I always imagine Katherine Heigl's body, as Elizabeth's meant to be statuesque, with Sarah Michelle Gellar's head (the way she is in Cruel Intentions, quite bitchy and sharp!)
Caitlin - A shorter Liv Tyler (I always imagine Caitlin is about 5'6, whereas Liv Tyler is 5'10)
Amber - if she ever turned to acting, Avril Lavinge!

7. As a debut author, what have you learned on the road to getting published and what advice would you give to aspiring novelists?
I've learnt that everything in the world of publishing takes time! I originally contacted my agent in March 2007 (you can read the full story on my website, www.tarahyland.com), and it took another eighteen months to get the manuscript ready for submission to publishers, and another sixteen months from there to actually seeing the book published! But, even though it's been a long path to publication, it's also been an amazing experience, and I hope that I get to be a novelist for the rest of my life.
My advice to aspiring novelists would be to seek out feedback on their work - get a friend, relative or someone in your writing group (basically, anyone who is going to give you honest, constructive feedback) to read your manuscript before sending it off. It's so easy to get too close to your manuscript, so that you can't see the wood for the trees, and an outsider can often spot problems that you can't. My editors invariably come up with concerns and ideas which I would never think of. Even now, I'm looking at reviews on my first novel, seeing what people say, and trying to think how I can improve my next book, while still keeping the elements people liked about Daughters of Fortune. So far, Book 2 is 10% shorter and has less characters! Those points may sound familiar, Bookalicious...

8. The rumour has it that you've finished your second book - can you give us some details on what it's about and when it will be published?
I've just handed in the first draft of my second book (early March 2010), and it should be out this time next year, so spring 2011. My agent and editors saw a reasonably detailed synopsis last year, before I started writing, but I still haven't heard what they think of the full manuscript, so it's a nerve-wracking time! It's about a mother who abandons her daughter for fame and fortune, and the consequences of her actions on both their lives. It takes in the golden age of Hollywood, which was such a glamorous, dark period. There's also a big mystery running from page one of the book, although the story is still character-driven. Here's my synopsis (although my publishers haven't seen it as yet, or said they liked the book, so it may change!)

An unwanted child: San Francisco, 1958. On a dark December night, a baby girl is left at the Sisters of Charity Orphanage on Telegraph Hill.
A mysterious suicide: One year later, movie star Frances Fitzgerald takes her own life. Her husband, wealthy businessman Maximilian Stanhope, is rumoured to know more about her death than he’s letting on, but nothing is ever proved.
A terrible secret: What is the connection between these two events? That’s what Frances’ daughter, Eavan, wants to find out. Abandoned by her mother when she is just seven years old, her childhood is filled with hardship and loss. Even though as a young woman she finds professional success as a journalist, on a personal level she struggles to trust those around her. Unable to commit to the man she loves, Eavan becomes convinced that uncovering the secret behind her mother’s death is the only way to lay her demons to rest. But finding out the truth may end up tearing her apart.

9. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Just a big thank you to Bookalicious Ramblings for reviewing Daughters of Fortune. And I hope that readers enjoy the book.

Thanks so much for your time and brilliant answers, Tara! Oh, it's a rather safe bet that this book will be a great hit with the readers! And I cannot wait for the next book - it sounds fantastic!

Other reviews of DAUGHTERS OF FORTUNE: Chicklit Reviews, Chicklit Club, Girlie Gossip.

Lastly, make sure you watch the video below to learn more about this book straight from the author! To learn more about Tara Hyland, visit her website or her publisher page for more videos & info.

So you say you want to read this book? Well, here's your chance to win a copy!
  • There will be FIVE winners and each gets a trade paperback copy of this brilliant book.
  • To be entered, just leave a comment and tell me why you want to read this book. :)
  • You don't have to be a follower to be entered.
  • The contest is open INTERNATIONALLY and it ends on April 1st.
Here's how you can get more entries:
+ 2 if you're a follower of this blog;
+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter: @TaraHyland;
+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter: @simonschusterUK (they're kindly sponsoring this giveaway);
+ 2 for tweeting about this contest or retweeing this tweet (provide link);
+ 2 for mentioning the contest in your sidebar;
+ 5 for posting about this contest on your blog with the picture of the cover and a video of Tara.

I need to get a hang of the Google Docs thingy, but until then I'll have to do this the old fashioned way, sorry. Good luck, everyone! :)


Emidy said...

Wonderful interview! I remember reading your review of this book. I've been wanting to read it from that point on! I'm going to have to get my hands on this one soon.

from Une Parole

Rogrady - Book Lover! said...

I haven't heard of this author before, but her book sounds so..... cool! With: Fashion, glamour, secrets, wealth, passion :)
Thank you both!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

AWESOME questions!

sarah said...

i would love to win this book, i have read a number of good reviews for it and your interview is fantastic.
i am a follower of this book, follow both tara hyland and simon&schuster on twitter and have retweeted the comp here: http://twitter.com/sbroadhurst
sarah x

Leah said...

Fab interview, thanks so much for that!

Milka said...

Great interview!
+2 I am a follower

Rogrady - Book Lover! said...

+2 I'm a follower
+2 I retweeted [roroTBR]
+1 I follow Tara
+2 I mentioned this on my sidebar.

I want to read this book because:
By reading your interview, and review, I think it sounds really interesting- I like the sound of Amber :) - and I would love to give it a go!

Thanks for hosting a great contest Suzana!

mel butcher said...

This book looks great, I want!

Anne Cater said...

Fabulous review, I'd love to read this - I've re-tweeted too!

Emma said...

i'd really like to win a copy of this book because (beware, it's a VERY original reason)...i love to read! there :)

Morgan said...

I really want to win this book becuase it looks amazing and I love the cover-it's gorgous. Thanks so much for having this giveaway.

+2 follower

Jeanne C. said...

ooooh, +2.... I'm a follower! I want this book because of the amazing cover and I love the spanning of generations in an epic novel! Coolio!

bianca_riot said...

I want to read this book because it looks and sounds like a great book that i would be interested to read. Nothing beats a relazful day with a book, and i wouldnt pass up the opportunity! :)

+2 Follower of blog
+1 Following Tara on twitter (@bianca_riot)
+1 Following Simon & Schuster on twitter
+2 Retweeting contest


bookaholic said...

I have read quite a few books dealing with the fashion industry. But never one which so intricately deals also with the families of the industry heads. And I love it how Ms. Hyland covers a time span of thirty years so delicately! I totally agree with what you said in your review...even I am bonkers over the cover!! :)

+ 2 follower of this blog
+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter: @TaraHyland- @Debasmitadhar
+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter: @simonschusterUK- @Debasmitadhar
+ 2 for retweeting: http://twitter.com/Debasmitadhar
+ 5 for posting about this contest on your blog with the picture of the cover and a video of Tara:http://bookaholicsoye.blogspot.com/2010/03/giveawaydaughters-of-fortune-by-tara.html


Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

This looks great!! Awesome interview! I'd love to enter the contest!

+2 I'm a follower


tkj81 said...

i'd love to read this book as i need a change from vampires! I seem to only read paranormal books at the moment!
+ 2 i am a follower of this blog

mariska said...

Because this book has it's own mystery to solve, and i love mystery :)

+ 2 a follower of this blog;
+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter (@becunique)
+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter
+ 2 for retweeing this : http://twitter.com/astrid_fiona/status/10687687194
and tweet'd : http://twitter.com/becunique/status/10710961229

uniquas at ymail dot com

Mystica said...

The book has a nice mix - fashion and passion. Sounds dynamic enough for me.


Aye.Me? said...

Great, in-depth interview!

I want to read this book because:
1. Your review makes it sound great :)
2. I loooove long books
3. Tara sounds really nice
4. I need it for my debut author challenge attempt
5. ...I just love to read. :)

+ 2 I follow this blog
+ 1 I follow Tara on Twitter (@Aye_Meeee)
+ 1 I follow Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter (@Aye_Meeee)
+ 2 I retweeted that tweet
+ 2 I added this contest to my sidebar

Thanks for the giveaway. :)


Rhoda said...

Fab interview. I love the sound of the book, sounds like a great read.

+ 1 I follow Tara on Twitter (@justforcomps)
+ 1 I follow Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter (@justforcomps)
+ RTd on twitter(http://twitter.com/justforcomps/status/10723424135)

Lucy Reynolds said...

I'd love to win a copy of this book as not only am I ALWAYS running out of reading material (I resort to the back of cereal packets!) but I'm also very intrigued about these 'secrets' mentioned by Tara. I do love reading about secrets, especially if they're about glamour and passion : )

+1 I follow Simon & Schuster UK (@AetharaGirl)
+2 I retweeted http://twitter.com/AetharaGirl

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

I would like to read this book because the premise sounds fascinating!

+ 2 I'm a follower of your blog
+2 tweeted here: http://twitter.com/Stella_ExLibris/status/10727992422
+1 I follow Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter (@ Stella_ExLibris)

stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

angie said...

I would love to win a copy of this book because it looks very interesting and good! I am always looking for new authors to read.
+ 2 I am a follower of this blog
+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter: @TaraHyland;@bangersis
+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter: @simonschusterUK @bangersis
+ 2 for tweeting about this contest or retweeing this tweet http://twitter.com/bangersis/status/10755464817
Thanks for the giveaway!
email bangersis(at)msn(dot)com

Sharli said...

t sounds like a really good read and I the story behid the book type of interview intrigued me even more.

+ 2 follower
+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter: @Entre_Libros
+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter: @simonschusterUK @Entre_Libros
+ 2 for tweeting: http://twitter.com/Entre_Libros/statuses/10755570725
+ 2 for mentioning the contest in your sidebar: http://blogentrelibros.blogspot.com/

Thank you!
entrelibros_blog at hotmail dot com

Sharli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mel u said...

I found your blog via the blog hop-love your design-really beautiful-I am now a follower

GABY said...

I want to read it because its the kind of book I like.

+ 2 follower of this blog;

+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter: (@magabygc)

+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter: (@magabygc)

+ 2 tweet: http://twitter.com/magabygc/status/10771626863

+ 2 sidebar: http://historias-imaginarias.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...


i really want this book cause its so nice the idea and the cover too!

Extra entries:

+ 2 I'm follower of this blog

+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter: @TaraHyland
(YES! @lizzyrm)

+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter: @simonschusterUK (they're kindly sponsoring this giveaway);
(yes! @lizzyrm)

+ 2 for tweeting about this contest or retweeing this tweet (provide link);
I retweeted! also I made a new tweet: http://twitter.com/Lizzyrm/status/10798595968

+ 2 for mentioning the contest in your sidebar
http://atlantidaliz.blogspot.com/ in the bottom!


Thanks =D

FionaChan said...

I want to read the book because it sounds super interesting and fun, and of course it has gorgeous book cover :D plus, I trust your review. + I need more books :(

+2 is a follower! :D
+1 followed tara (username: FionaChan)
+1 followed simon & schuster uk
+2 tweeted! http://twitter.com/FionaChan/status/10982590944
+2 mentioned http://fionalevesque.blogspot.com/
+5 blogged http://fionalevesque.blogspot.com/2010/03/bookalicious-ramblings-daughters-of.html

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've come across Tara's book. The cover may not be my style but then again ppl says don't judge a book by its cover.

Will give it a try for this competition :)


Anonymous said...

The cover isn't really my style but people says don't judge a book by its cover.

Waiting for the story to blow me away.


Aik said...

I'd love to read this book because it sounds really great!

+ 2 I'm a follower of this blog;

+ 1 for following Tara on Twitter: @aikchien;

+ 1 for following Simon & Schuster UK on Twitter: @aikchien;

+ 2 for tweeting about this contest or retweeing this tweet;

+ 2 for mentioning the contest in my sidebar;

+ 5 for posting about this contest on my blog with the picture of the cover and a video of Tara.

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Spav said...

I've never heard of this author before, but the book sounds great. I would love to read it!

+2 Tweet: http://twitter.com/Sparima/status/11255814973
+2 Blog follower
+1 Follow @simonschusterUK (@Sparima)


J'adore said...

I love to read books, from new and different authors that I wouldn't pick normally, and I always love to read different genre, This Book seem PERFECT!

P.S: Your Blog is FAB!

Michelle said...

This sounds like a fun read! I love Tara's description of each sister in the video clip.

+ 2 I'm a follower of your blog.

P.S. I love your blog!

Teresa said...

This looks like a fun read. I'd love to win it.

I just started following as well.

teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com