If you’ve recently visited a coffee shop in the Toowoomba area and noticed a woman staring at you intently, or eavesdropping on a conversation you had with friends, don’t be alarmed. It’s probably just Paige Hardt deciding whether to include you in her next novel.
The keen observer of human nature, who is celebrating the recent e-release of her debut novel I, Peter Wood, often takes to coffee shops in the local area to find inspiration, relishing in the prospect of observing people as they go about their everyday lives otherwise unnoticed. It is in these observations that she finds the little quirks that make her characters three-dimensional and somewhat real, rather than a name on a page.
I, Peter Wood centres on family relationships and how people relate to one another. After Peter Wood’s sudden death, his estranged family is thrown together in their grief. A set of rules determines that they must spend one full week together, learning to love and appreciate each other again, in order for them to receive access to his will. Failure to do so will result in Wood’s billion-dollar company being dismantled, and consequently, the forfeiture of their inheritance.
The idea is one Hardt worked on for some time, starting with the title and a few chapters. Not getting anywhere with the project, she decided to leave it for a while and picked it up after a year and a half. Inspiration took hold and she finished the novel in seven weeks, before approaching boutique publishing house French Press Bookworks (an imprint of Pen Name Publishing) in the US. Having tried to publish her work since she was a teenager, Hardt didn’t really expect to hear anything from the publisher, despite having high hopes of finally realising her dream to be a published author. Yet just a few weeks after sending off the completed manuscript, she was successful in landing a publishing contract. ‘It was so strange because one second I’m just sitting there – years and years of trying to get published is all I know – and the next second, that’s it, you’re published,’ says Hardt.
2015 is turning out to be a busy year for Hardt, who is currently expecting her first child and in the process of opening a café / book store in her home town of Toowoomba. Though it may be a struggle to juggle these new commitments around a regular writing schedule, she endeavours to continue pursuing her dreams. ‘Whenever anybody comes to me and says, “I wish I could write but I don’t have the time,” my answer to them is always “Well, make the time.” I figure that if that’s the advice I give to other people, that’s the advice I’m going to give to myself. I make time at the end of the day to sit down and watch TV and relax, so I can make the time [to write].
With the release of her book, initially in e-book format, Hardt is both excited and nervous about having her words out there for everyone to read. Her story is one to inspire all those fielding through a pile of rejection slips, proof that you don’t necessarily need a big publishing house to be successful in the industry. One of her greatest ambitions in terms of writing is to be a female version of her favourite author, James Patterson, with everyone in the English speaking population knowing her work. The publication of her debut novel is just the start.
I, Peter Wood is published by French Press Bookworks, and is available now. To find out more about Paige Hardt and her work, visit her on Facebook .
Images courtesy of author.
(This article originally appeared in cargoART Magazine 2015)