Ashley Hay biography

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Ashley Hay
Photo: Nigel Beebe

Ashley Hay

Ashley Hay Biography

Ashley Hay is the internationally acclaimed author of four nonfiction books, including The Secret: The Strange Marriage of Annabella Milbanke and Lord Byron, and the novels The Body in the Clouds and The Railwayman's Wife, which was honored with the Colin Roderick Award by the Foundation for Australian Literary Studies and longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, the most prestigious literary prize in Australia, among numerous other accolades. Ashley is on the web at www.ashleyhay.com.au.

Ashley Hay's website

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Interview

Ashley Hay talks about her novel, The Railwayman's Wife, which explores the power of beginnings and endings, and how hard it can sometimes be to tell them apart.

What inspired you to write this story?

I grew up one suburb up the train line from the book's setting, Thirroul, on Australia's eastern coast. It's a beautiful landscape, and I'd always wanted to set a story there. I also grew up with a grandmother who became the librarian at the Thirroul Railway Institute after her husband--my grandfather--was killed in a railway accident.

This story isn't their story--Ani and Mac are not real people--but I wanted to explore the idea of a widow in a compensatory job, and in a library, and just after the war. I think this was partly because my first novel--The Body in the Clouds--tried to tackle things on a large scale: a long span of time (more than 230 years); the colonization of a continent; the construction of a vast bridge; the size and speed of the modern world.

Even as I was writing that book, I was thinking about how I could try to explore big things--and war and grief would have to be two of the biggest--in smaller and more intimate ways, and how that different size and scale might change or direct a story. When I began, I found I didn't have a choice about where to set it: ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Ashley Hay at BookBrowse
A Hundred Small Lessons jacket The Railwayman's Wife jacket
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