Save the date 2021 Festival 21-31 October

Sandra Simpson takes a peek at the lockdown of Kāpiti Coast novelist H G Parry.

Hannah Parry who shares her Paraparaumu home with her sister is making the best use of her lockdown time – “endlessly watching” the 2006 BBC series ‘Robin Hood’ on demand, looking after a menagerie of pets and managing to fit in some work on her new book.

Writing as HG Parry, Hannah has a PhD in children’s literature and has been “writing forever for fun”, though never thought she would be able to turn it into a career. She had written a novel, assuming its future lay in her bottom drawer until she shared an office at Victoria University with someone who was writing seriously.

“I started getting interested in what they were doing and was able to sign with an agent in California on the basis of what I’d already done – I was told it wasn’t publishable but I could work on it.”

That manuscript turned into ‘A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians’ which is due to be published in June and has become the first book in a two-part series with Hannah currently finishing part two.

Her first novel to be published, however, was ‘The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep’, which came out last year and has been winning favourable reviews for its intriguing premise of, what happens when characters step off the pages and into the streets?

“I wrote that book just as I was finishing my doctorate. I was in a really interesting brain space as I’d been looking at books for 3 years solid. I wanted to write about stories and books and early on fixed on Charles Dickens and then ‘David Copperfield’ as his most autobiographical novel – when he was writing about Uriah Heep, he was writing about his nemesis.”

Describing the scheming, manipulative Heep as “one of the most beautifully repulsive characters ever written”, Hannah says he seemed like a good villain to play with, although putting his name on the cover didn’t happen until much later.

Other well-known characters asserting themselves in the book include Heathcliff, Dorian Gray and Mr Darcy – five Mr Darcys in fact and, yes, one looks suspiciously like Colin Firth!

“I’m interested in the line between reading for pleasure and literary interpretation,” Hannah says. “People talk about the romance of ‘Wuthering Heights’ but I think it’s about inter-generational trauma! Heathcliff isn’t moody, he’s a menace.”

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New to Fantasy novels? HG Parry suggests a beginner’s reading list:

‘Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’ by Susanna Clark: For anyone who likes historical novels

‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger: Romance and science fiction, what’s not to like?

‘Glamourist History’ series by Mary Robinette Kowal: Regency period romance and fantasy.

‘Here and Now and Then’ by Mike Chen: For anyone who likes Dr Who.

Any book by Terry Pratchett (also an award-winning children’s writer) and Douglas Adams. “Douglas Adams helped get me into sci-fi,” Hannah says. “I’d had a very traditional start with ‘The Lord of the Rings’ when I was about 11 and couldn’t believe what Douglas Adams was doing, he was so funny. Terry Pratchett is another comic writer with amazing depth.”

Sci-Fi fans can meet Hannah ‘in person’ at the July-August World Science Fiction Convention (CoNZealand) being held in New Zealand for the first time – the physical event in Wellington is being replaced by an online convention.