Dangerous Women by Hope Adams was published by Michael Joseph on 4 March 2021.
Hope kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about Dangerous Women.
Dangerous Women is a novel based on real events. In 1841, the ship Rajah set sail from London for Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) carrying 180 women convicts. Sailing with them was Kezia Hayter, a young woman of 23 who’d been appointed as a Matron to help the convicts with handicrafts and in general to be in charge of their welfare on the voyage. Kezia, the Captain, Charles Ferguson, and the Surgeon Superintendent, James Donovan, as well as a clergyman, the Reverend Davies are all real historical figures. The voyage of the Rajah was very well documented. Kezia kept diaries. We have the ship’s logs and so forth but I added an element of suspense by having one of the convicts being stabbed by another right at the beginning of the book. We then want to find out who did this and why. And there’s a ticking clock because the crime has to be solved before the ship docks.
2. What inspired the book?
I visited a wonderful exhibition at the V &A in 2010 called Quilts, and saw the real Rajah Quilt hanging on the wall. It’s beautiful and when I read the story of its making, I was hooked. It did take eleven years finally to have the novel in front of me, but it’s been an obsession from the day I saw it. I have spent eleven years looking over my shoulder, dreading that someone else would beat me to telling the story.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I’m a planner. I used to do a rough plan on one sheet of paper but since 2003, I have made a detailed plan for every book. It’s quite hard to do at the beginning but it does make writing the book much easier. You’ve got a recipe to follow, as it were. That’s not to say that things don’t change as you’re writing. Of course, they often do, but it’s very comforting to have a structure of the whole book before you begin. It’s like having a map before you start a journey…
4. Dangerous Women is your first novel under the name Hope Adams but you have written many more as Adele Geras. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that still surprises you?
It’s true! I’ve written more than a hundred books for readers of all ages and six adult novels under my real name. There’s not much that surprises me now, I have to say, but I think it’s wonderful and sort of unpredictable that they’ve adapted to the pandemic so brilliantly. It’s strange having events by Zoom and launches by Zoom and virtual everything, but the whole process of publication has been wonderful and kept my spirits up all through Lockdown. And I’m hoping soon to be able to go and stroke my book in a real bookshop after April. It’s such a sumptuous production. Michael Joseph have really pushed the boat out and it’s a thing of beauty. My publishers have been wonderful from beginning to end of the process and I feel tremendously lucky.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
I read a lot and knit all the time and I spend a lot of time writing emails and posting stuff on Twitter! I also watch far too much television. I’m a great binger of box sets….
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
The complete works of William Shakespeare. Plays, of course, but sonnets too.
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Could you have been something else entirely? Done something quite different.
My answer would be: a country and Western singer. Or the star of a musical. Any kind of musical theatre…. I am (or I was! I’m old now) a performer.
About the Book
The Rajah sails for Australia.
On board are 180 women convicted of petty crimes, sentenced to start a new life half way across the world.
Daughters, sisters, mothers – they’ll never see home or family again. Despised and damned, all they have now is each other.
Until the murder.
As the fearful hunt for a killer begins, everyone on board is a suspect.
The investigation risks tearing their friendships apart . . .
But if the killer isn’t found, could it cost them their last chance of freedom?
About the Author
Hope Adams was born in Jerusalem and spent her early childhood in many different countries, such as Nigeria and British North Borneo. She went to Roedean School in Brighton, and from there to St Hilda’s College, Oxford