Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour Legacy by Carole Hayman. Thanks so much to Amber Choudhary at Midas PR for the invite. Before we get to the Q&A, here’s what the book is all about:
“At a moment when powerful men everywhere are being exposed for their crimes, Celia receives an email out of the blue, accusing her ex-husband of committing a rape decades before. She feels compelled to investigate, but where should she even begin? Together with Carly, her millennial colleague at the Harland Herald, she revisits a past she thought she’d left behind, full of partying, drugs and free love. At the time, she’d thought she was at the centre of something – she’d been swept up in the maelstrom of the summer of love – but did she miss something rotten at its core? From writer, producer and presenter Carole Hayman comes this insightful, compulsive thriller. Told through a series of flashbacks to Celia’s wild youth, Legacy examines the ideas of memory, feminism and changing sexual politics. “
Available from: Audible
What inspired you to write Legacy?
As a classic Baby Boomer, mostly my own past and a gnawing compulsion to re-evaluate it through the prism of today. Have things changed for women? How have they changed? Did all the things we Boomer women thought we were fighting for – politically, intellectually, emotionally financially – actually come to pass?
I’m particularly interested in issues around consent. What we do and don’t agree is permissible and why – and how much those ideas have changed since the 70s.
We women weren’t so good at supporting each other then – the territory was narrow, and it was everyone for themselves. It might sound sad – well, it is sad – but such was the position of women, that if you were a chosen one you got privileges and were the envy of all your mates.
On a narrative level – The grooming gangs in West Yorkshire were being convicted while I was writing and those nasty, disturbing stories were out and about – no question I picked up on them.
I’ve always written about women , often in quite extreme circumstances. My own taste runs to the dark side and I do love a good murder mystery. But I’m also a sucker for romance and the grand love affair – I’m always looking for my own next one. In my dreams. (Literally.)
What struck you about the #MeToo movement that moved you to include it as a central theme in Legacy?
Actually, by the time the Harvey Weinstein story struck and the movement really took off, I was already well into Legacy. Of course, for every Harvey Weinstein there are – and always were – a thousand others. Some of whom I encountered myself as a young woman. So, when the stories began to surface, it was marvellous serendipity – I felt I was on the right track!
I suppose too, I was lamenting that we women had let it get so far for so long, without standing up to it. I remember the times I tried to back in the day, and how often I would find myself alone. It was very frightening to speak out – you did it at your peril. You wouldn’t get employed again – it was that simple. I suspect it still is. It was a relief and very cathartic to see so many women coming out with their stories from 30 odd years ago, though frustrating to realise how many had secretly happened while you were going through your own dark night.
As I said above, the grooming gangs of Yorkshire were in the press as I wrote. But I also live in an area where people-smuggling is a constant – and so many smuggled women end up in modern sexual slavery.
Why did you focus on the 1960s particularly?
The late 60s and early 70s were such magic times to be young. We were escaping from the grim 50s. It was free spirited, funky, glorious freaky fun, sex, drugs & rock and roll-fuelled hedonism. The clothes, the hair, the colours! What’s not to love?
So of course, I had a great time. Some of the time. Some of the time, I was taken advantage of. I noticed the same was happening to lots of women around me – but we wouldn’t have called it exploitation. It was just how the times were. We counted ourselves lucky to be out in the real world, not home alone wearing a frilly pinny – one arm beating a cake mix , the other holding a baby.
I didn’t stress about the not so good stuff – just took it as the downside of the freedoms I was otherwise enjoying. If things went badly, I blamed myself.
In Legacy – a not quite ironic title – I wanted to revisit that era with hindsight. I wanted to uncover and reappraise what was really going on. Those times, though naughty, seemed oddly innocent – but we were still in the dark ages where sexual and gender politics were concerned.
How would you describe the relationship between Celia and Carly?
I would describe that as a true friendship. An unusual, across generations friendship which benefits them both. Celia is kind of like the mother you didn’t have: wise about the human condition and understanding about dilemmas, especially of the heart – but not foisting her opinions on you, or expecting emotional payback.
Celia benefits from an exclusive and up-close view into the modern generation with its current ideas about cultural norms and boundaries. She loves that she can see her younger self in Carly – the energy, enthusiasm, hunger for experience and excitement over discovery.
Carly is at first in awe of the stories of Celia’s wild past, but soon comes to see her vulnerabilities. She quickly becomes a supportive partner in Celia’s search for the truth. They bond over what turns out to be a troubling, if fascinating journey: an investigation into the past, which changes them both.
What are you writing next?
You mean, when I’m not making marmalade?
No, seriously, I’m quite superstitious, so I don’t usually talk about work in progress.
I will say that a major project is The Hive Opera, for which I wrote the libretto. Though set for several performances in 2020, it’s been indefinitely postponed due to Covid. I’m on a mission to get it going again – I want to see it with full bells and whistles in an opera house soon.
I don’t do well with enforced idleness, so I’ve started experimenting with new things. I now post on Instagram as Larder Lout! My Avatar is Vera of Ladies of Letters exotic cookery fame , who shares her increasingly don’t try this at home recipes. Like what to do with a squash. No suggestions, thank you.
I’ve just started work on a new opera – this time, a comical-satirical tale of smuggling and skulduggery set in the politically rotten 1880s and the similar present. It will have lots of jolly sea shanties and be the complete opposite of The Hive, which is based on a female serial killer!