Bunny Finds A Friend author Hazel Yeats knew from an early age that she wanted to write, but it turned out she would have to wait decades to get around to making that dream come true. But this debut writer says that once she got the bug, she has never looked back.
In our Spotlight Interview with Hazel, we talked to her why she set her novel in the Netherlands, why she’ll probably never write a children’s book, and the question people really want to know: what the heck does the title Bunny Finds a Friend mean?
Read on to find out:
First, congratulations on the publication of Bunny Finds a Friend! What does it feel like to have your first book published?
Thank you. And wow. Having a book published is like a dream come true. Really, there’s no other way to describe it.
Tell us a little about your novel, Bunny Finds a Friend. What is it about?
The story is basically about all the things that make life interesting—love, family, commitment, humor, books, finding one’s destiny, and sticking together when the going gets rough.
The main characters are [a] Dutch [woman named] Cara and an American [woman named] Jude, who meet in Amsterdam under rather bizarre circumstances. Their second encounter, although weirder still, makes it clear how they connect on every level. These two are actually so compatible that they can’t believe their luck. And while a new spring makes Amsterdam come to life, they spend a few blissful months together.
But when the complications in their lives, especially in Jude’s, become more and more prominent, they act on old impulses, and they begin to push each other away rather than face their challenges together. Cara, who has a hard time trusting her luck in love, ends the relationship. Sadder and wiser, she tries to pick up her life, but she can’t seem to find her old groove back. At that point, her formidable sisters arrive on the scene, like a Greek chorus, and take matters into their own hands.
Bunny Finds a Friend is a rather unusual title for a lesbian romance novel. How did you come up with that title?
Jude, one of the protagonists, is a children’s book writer and creator of the Bunny series. Bunny is an adorable white rabbit who is faced in each volume with a grown-up problem or issue. Jude’s mission is to write about these issues in a way that will appeal to young children. One of the happier volumes in the series is the one where Bunny finds a new friend. The title of Jude’s book ended up being the title of my book. And the analogy is obvious—it’s not just Bunny who finds a friend, Jude finds one too, and considerably more than that.
Why did you pick the Netherlands as a setting for your novel, and what role does the setting play?
When Jude first came to the Netherlands to get acquainted with her European fans, she felt at home instantly, which is one of the reasons why she got an apartment in Amsterdam where she could live part of the year. Amsterdam is a magical place to many people, and that magic is quite tangible to Jude. She loves the city’s unique history, the abundance of culture, the picturesque canals, and the whole Old World charm. The laid-back attitude suits her, and the fact that she finds love there further adds to the city’s appeal. It’s the perfect backdrop for their story.
Jude, one of your main characters, is a famous children’s book writer. Do you have any ambitions to write a book for children? Or is there anything else you have in common with Jude?
I can’t say I’ve ever considered writing for children. I don’t think I’d be cut out for it. I like my words too much to confine myself to using only the simpler ones.
Jude and I have in common that we both love writing more than anything.
Can you tell us a little about how you experienced the editing process at Ylva?
Since Bunny is my first published book, I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I can’t imagine a more pleasant experience with any editorial process anywhere than the one I had. Ylva’s editors are helpful, patient, communicative, and totally committed to helping authors produce the very best work they can. This has not just been a great learning experience for me, but great fun as well.
You created an interesting cast of supporting characters, especially Cara’s sisters. Could you imagine writing their stories too?
I do love those girls, meddlesome as they are. Especially Myra. She’s so incredibly grounded and practical and yet so caring and mild. She has the biggest heart. While it would be fun to write their stories, they do belong to this particular book for me. There are other characters I want to focus on right now.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I cycle. Sometimes just to get from A to B, sometimes because the weather is nice and it’s fun, and sometimes to clear my frustrated head (in which case I tend to mow down the occasional pedestrian).
I do a bit of walking too, and I like photographing, the sunset being my favorite subject.
I enjoy watching movies and sitcoms, and I love to read. There’s great joy for me in talking about books and anything to do with reading and writing.
Oh, right, I almost forgot—I have a day job.
Are you working on a new novel? What can your readers expect next from you?
I’m in the first stages of a new novel. It’s not a romance novel but a work of general fiction. It’s an ambitious project, and I’m very excited about it.
I’m also working on a short story and on a series of poems. I know very little about poetry, but that doesn’t stop me from writing it during boring train rides. My poor judgment makes it a very relaxing activity where I feel no pressure at all. When I finish one, I can never tell whether it’s crappy or brilliant. I usually decide on brilliant.
How can your readers stay in touch with you?
Please email me at email@example.com
Thanks for talking with us, Hazel. Congratulations again on your book!