The Booktopia Book Guru asks
author of The Girl on the Train
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, I lived there – and went to school there, obviously – until I was seventeen.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve, a human rights lawyer (bleeding heart liberal); at eighteen, a foreign correspondent (thanks to romantic notions of what that might entail); at thirty, an author (also thanks to romantic notions of what that might entail).
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I can’t think of a single one, which suggests that I’m incredibly stubborn (or possibly that I simply can’t remember all the ridiculous things I believed when I was eighteen).
4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Impossible to pick just three, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Macbeth, The Black Paintings by Francisco Goya, and the song Down by the Water by PJ Harvey.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Because I can’t draw, or paint, or dance, or play an instrument. Writing is the only thing I’m any good at.
The Girl on the Train is a story about a lonely commuter, a voyeur who witnesses something shocking on her daily journey to work, and who finds herself drawn into a mystery which, unbeknown to her, she is already an integral part.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
Talking specifically about The Girl on the Train, I’d like to have given the reader food for thought about the nature of perception, about the judgements we make about the people we see every day and the people that are close to us, and about how flawed those judgements frequently are.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To write something I’m proud of. That’s all.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Find someone whose judgement you trust to read your work: no one does this all alone.
Paula, thank you for playing.
by Paula Hawkins
YOU DON’T KNOW HER. BUT SHE KNOWS YOU.
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
About the Author
Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction.
Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.