“Having your agent say your book is good is like having your mum say you’re pretty,” says Paula Hawkins, author of the best-selling novel, The Girl on the Train.
A worldwide sensation, the novel was optioned by a film company before it had been published – obviously her agent, was right. The film starring Emily Blunt will be out in October.
While marketed as Paula’s debut novel, like most authors, Paula Hawkins has been writing stories all her life. She was a journalist for 15 years and has previously published four books under a pen name before the huge success of this psychological thriller.
Paula had commuted to London for many years on a train, but this time, the train ride (and Dymocks) brought her to Brisbane for appearances and book signings in the Ithaca Room, Brisbane City Hall.
The inspiration for the book
Hosted by the always entertaining, Frances Whiting, Paula told her audience that she often wondered if something exciting would happen as she gazed out of the window.
“Nothing ever did,” she says, but it did plant the seed for this riveting tale.
Rachel, the main character, is an alcoholic who often blacks-out, leaving the reader unsure about her credibility. So when she witnesses a dramatic event from the window of the train, the police regard her as an unreliable witness.
Every character in this suburban noir is flawed; personalities battling with depression, fear of losing a spouse, sex addiction, grappling with motherhood or a crippling need for attention. It will keep you guessing until the end.
The film adaption
Although the book is set in London the movie has been filmed with the commute to New York as a backdrop. This could cause some controversy amongst fans.
But Paula says that the filmmakers have still kept the essence and mood of the book which was her main concern.
“The scenery is much prettier, looking into big American backyards with their white picket fences,” she says.
What’s next for Paula
Paula is currently writing her next novel—also a psychological thriller—that hinges on the premise that all of our memories are different, and everyone will have a different take on events that happened at a certain time.
“It’s like when siblings get together and remember a family story completely differently,” she says. But what if the story being remembered is something really awful?
Paula agrees that there is more pressure this time around after the phenomenal success of her first book and also more time pressures as she travels the world speaking at Writer’s festivals, doing book signings and making appearances.
At home she writes every day from nine-to-five and can’t seem to fully believe the magnitude of her success.
She is smart, funny, and very modest and I am amongst the millions of readers who will be rushing out to buy the next tome written by this talented author.