Q&A with Hannah Beckerman
The Dead Wife’s Handbook
- Tell us about your novel, The Dead Wife’s Handbook.
The Dead Wife’s Handbook is the story of Rachel who’s died of a heart attack at the (too-young) age of 36. The novel opens a year after her death, where we find her in some sort of netherworld, watching over her husband and seven-year-old daughter as they try to rebuild their lives without her. It’s about Rachel’s family and friends – as well as Rachel herself – coming to terms with their grief and understanding the impact Rachel had on their lives.
- How did you come up with the idea of writing from a deceased persons perspective?
I came up with the idea after a conversation with a friend about her ex-husband. She’d told me how she felt uncomfortable about the possibility of him telling his new partner her secrets. I started thinking about how that probably makes many of us feel uncomfortable and that the most extreme version of that would be if you were dead but nonetheless able to witness what was being said about you. Suddenly there was this dead character – Rachel – in my head, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how she felt.
- I couldn’t stop crying throughout the book, I really did feel Rachel’s heart ache. Was there a particular part in the book that you felt was most difficult to write?
I did cry quite a lot during the writing of the book! I think the scenes that were most affecting for me when writing were some of the conversations between Max (Rachel’s husband) and Ellie (their daughter). I love their relationship, and I love both of them as characters, and so Max’s tenderness and Ellie’s childlike desire to understand (even though she really can’t yet) were very emotive to imagine. There were times when my husband would come into the study and I’d be in floods of tears!
- Your book club questions at the end of the book are very thought provoking. What are your thoughts on book clubs and have you ever been part of one?
I’ve never been part of a book club but I love the idea of them. When I was a TV Producer at the BBC I ran a project called The Big Read which was partly about getting people to vote on their favourite novel, but largely about extending the reach of reading. So I was involved in organising projects to set up book clubs and reading groups around the country. I think they’re a fantastic way for people to have a shared experience with a book – and we all know there’s nothing better than raving about a book you love or ranting about one you didn’t!
- What can we expect from your second novel?
I’m just working on revisions for book 2 at the moment. The subject is under wraps (I haven’t even told my mum yet!) but it’s a story about family, relationships and identity with a few dark secrets thrown in for good measure!
Thank you So much to Hannah for taking part in this Q&A!