Hazel Longuet is a lifelong wanderer. She has spent her adult life exploring the world – she was lucky to work as a marketing consultant, so her job took her all over the world. From Bolivia to Egypt, from Sweden to Colombia. Always with a book in her hand and a dream of writing. Some poor health gave her the time she needed to write her first book. An urban mythology inspired by more than 20 years of living in Egypt.
Tell me about your favorite destination?
Oh, that’s so hard. I have favorite things about so many. I loved Bolivia – the people were so poor and yet the happiest people I’ve ever met. If they could bottle that, their poverty would be gone in one day. Egypt is my soul country – from a tiny child, I was enraptured by the mythology and history, so it was no surprise to anyone that I ended up staying there longer than anywhere else and finding myself a wonderful Egyptian husband. I love the style, romance, and food of Italy. The lush, exotic vegetation of Cambodia as well as their beautiful historic sites… England is home, but right now I’m wishing it was just a little less rainy!
Which is your favorite mythology?
Egyptian and Peruvian, followed closely by Norse. I’m fascinated by most mythology- the similarities they share and the vast differences. History is my inspiration for all my book ideas.
Why do you think Gods and Goddesses are such pranksters?
Oh, great question! Well, if you’ve lived a millennium and have endless time facing you I’m pretty certain pranks help fill the days. Often the pranks could also help humanity grow, but I’d place my dollar bet on entertainment in the face of eternity. I know I’d be tempted.
Don’t you find that all Goddesses of love have been extremely promiscuous?
I guess they have to some extent. But there are some great love stories like Isis and Osiris. Isis goes to quite some extremes to resurrect her husband. That must be love, surely. Again though an eternity with the same person…. temptation must be high.
You write about Gods and Goddesses, but do you believe in them?
I believe in higher powers, and I certainly believe there is more to life than we can see or prove. It’s a question that fascinates me. Could these beings exist? And if they do, what would they want to achieve? The entire paranormal, metaphysical area opens so many questions that science can’t yet prove or disprove. I’d love a time machine to travel into the future and find out the answers.
Explain the genre of Urban Mythology to a ten-year-old?
The ancient mythology of Egyptians, Grecians, Romans, and Norse playing out on modern Earth… I guess the Marvel films of Thor and the Avengers could loosely be classified as Urban Mythology.
What is the place of romance in your fiction and your life?
I tend to love the dark romances of yore. I love Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Brief Encounters. The passionate love that burns too brightly to survive… I’m not your typical happy-ever-after girl. Luckily I am blessed with a happy marriage in real life, but my reading definitely tilts towards tragic love. My books have love and will have more as the series progresses so I will have to have at least one happy-ever-after, but the gods can be cruel masters!
Tell me about a happy marriage. What’s the recipe?
For us living apart – now I know that doesn’t sound conventional, but it really works for us. It keeps us excited to see each other and fresh stories and experiences to share. He lives in Egypt and I live in the U.K. It was forced by circumstances and we were very apprehensive, but it’s worked brilliantly. It’s not forever, but we are making it work for us. It’s a bit like dating all over again. I think also compromise and putting your partner’s needs before yours – as long as they do the same. But most important above everything is humor – shared laughter is the most important part of a relationship to me.
Tell me about your book writing process. How does one write a book?
My first book was House of Scarabs which came to me fully formed in one of my dreams. I had got to about 75% of the way through the dream when my husband woke me with a coffee. I was furious as I was desperate to know how it ended. Poor guy treating me to coffee in bed and ended up with an earful of abuse. Anyway, the story stuck with me and I really wanted to know how it ended and decided the only way to find out was to write it. That book took me five years to write – fear kept paralyzing me. What if I wasn’t any good? I’d spent a lifetime wanting to be a writer, but what if I lacked the skills? I’ve since found out this is quite common, but boy did it slow me down. I found a dream editor who eased me into publishing it with gentle words of encouragement.
The day I launched it was the most terrifying day of my life… I shook the entire day. But the reviews came in, they were good and I started on the prequel – Genesis.
My question was more about the process of writing. Do you start with the character or the world? How do you organize a book?
Well, House of Scarabs isn’t typical because I had it all. With my other books, I plot out the storylines first. What happens when to whom? The plotting is at a very top level. Probably no more than 4 pages of notes… Then I deep dive into the characters. I find photos that look like how I see them in my mind. I have a wiki for my books. In it is detailed breakdown of each character – their descriptions, characteristics, family tree, habits, where they grew up – everything you can imagine. I need to know them inside out before I can start the book. They must be as real as my best friends in my mind. Even the bit part characters are detailed in my wiki. This helps to keep things straight in my mind and acts as a great reference resource as I write the series.
With the plot and the characters in hand, I open Scrivener (a novel writing software) and write chapter cards that give top line breakdown of what happens per chapter. Once all the chapter cards are written, I know the story, and I can write.
Writing is done in sprints of 20 minutes. I aim to do about 8 – 10 sprints per day.
How do you feel about being popular and everybody prying into your personal stuff?
I don’t really see myself that way. Many of my readers have become friends who send me interesting articles about Egypt. One recently lost her dog, so I’m naming a dog in my next book after hers. People are generally lovely… the odd one who isn’t can be ignored. Plus, it’s always up to me how much I share.
Do you own pets?
I have two dogs (both rescue) a one-eyed Rottie called Asha and a 7-month-old puppy who the rescue swear isn’t half Shetland Pony (I think they may be lying 😉 – he’s huge). I also volunteer at the Rottweiler rescue – every book of mine has a Rottie in it somewhere. They are a gorgeous and totally misunderstood breed.
Tell me about your dog?
He’s half poodle, half Beauceron, and a total pickle. He came from a rescue at 6 months old with very little training and having terrible toddler tantrums, so it’s been an interesting month. My writing has taken a back seat whilst I focus on training him. A dog his size with no training is a very bad idea so he’s in intensive training. Still throwing tantrums but not so frequently thankfully.
What is fascinating about your main character?
Ellie is the main female protagonist in the series. When you first meet her she’s not that likable – she’s had a troubled life, and she’s emotionally locked down. But underneath she’s a strong and passionate woman. As the story progresses, she begins to come out of her shell. I love that journey. She’s the type of woman you’d want on your side. Her emotional journey fascinated me as I was writing it.
Well………does your character have something of you?
I have three main protagonists – Ellie, Ben, and Gerhard. Ben is an Archaeologist in his ’30s and Gerhard’s in his 70’s and runs a bookstore. Ben’s humor is a direct reflection of mine, and Gerhard’s quiet thoughtfulness also comes from me. Ellie is who I wish I could be – she’s way stronger than me.
Who do you admire the most?
The person I most admired was my grandmother, who saw good in everyone and spent her entire life trying to help others. She was a yardstick by which I measure myself. I also admire all the women who forged the way for us today – the pioneers in science, literature, and politics.
The world is a little crazy right now, isn’t it?
I’ve just returned from a writing conference which nearly didn’t happen because of the coronavirus. Many of the dystopian authors were seeing life reflect art. It’s obviously less impactful on writers because we tend to be in isolation writing most of the time but still I worry for my parents and the weaker members of our communities. I hope the measures being taken will reduce the impact and lower the infection rate. I intend to stay calm and write.
How do you create conflict in your stories?
My characters are fighting against an obvious foe – an ancient assassin’s guild formed to prevent them from obtaining their goal – so there’s obvious conflict there. But they are also fighting their own destiny… and that makes for really interesting conflict… They are pawns in a long-planned out scenario planted by the gods thousands of years before – so rather powerless. Inner conflict is often more interesting than physical conflict.
What is sacred in your life?
Family, friends, nature, and love…
Are you in love?
Yes. With my husband, my dogs, and my family.
I remember Prince Charles was asked that and said: “Of course, whatever love is.” If you can’t say yes immediately you’re not in love. I’m also very much in love with life.
Think if there was something you needed to tell, and I forgot to ask.
Hmmm… I guess there could be many things, but maybe what’s next for me? I’m plotting out a series of novellas based on a magical Manor House and the adventures of generations of its owners as it gifts them various paranormal skills. I’m excited to start that project. I’m also in early talks to start writing a series in a shared world with some other authors which would be great fun. Every day I thank the powers that be that I’m able to write – it’s such an honor and let’s face it who wouldn’t love exploring their daydreams.
Thanks to Hazel for making us fall in love with mythology and life.
Find Hazel’s Book House of Scarabs on Amazon: