#DaphneDuMaurier #AnnaMazzola

Daphne Du Maurier was born on the 13th May 1907 and to mark what would have been her 109th birthday, I have decided to dedicate this week to celebrating her fantastic books. 

Du Maurier is one of my favourite authors and Rebecca is my most favourite book ever. I can still vividly remember being about 15 years old, crawling half out of the tent on a holiday in Italy to catch the last of the light as evening fell, desperate to finish the last few pages of Rebecca. It was the first novel that truly gripped me, truly haunted me and the first novel with which I discovered the true meaning of "page turner".  

With Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier did more than write an atmospheric love story; it has never been out of print in the 64 years since it was published in 1938 proving that it still resonates with readers today. Rebecca has a 'haunting power and a vice like narrative grip' (Sally Beauman). With this, her fifth novel, Du Maurier showed the world that she could write a book that combined all the conventions of a best seller with something more significant and powerful. 

Daphne Du Maurier's novels are a celebration of the gothic genre; they are dark, they are psychologically thrilling and they are full of mystery, suspense and captivating characters. Her novels have had a huge impact on modern fiction.

Join me as I spend a week talking to authors who have been influenced by her writing, entranced by her stories and gone on to create their own books which also continue in the tradition of what we now refer to as 'grip lit'.

I am absolutely thrilled to welcome author Anna Mazzola as my first guest. 

Anna's debut novel "The Unseeing" is set in 1837 and follows the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. I adored it and rated it 5*. You can read my full review here.

The Unseeing
Anna Mazzola

Thank you so much Anna for joining me in this celebration of Daphne Du Maurier's novels! 

Do you have a favourite book by Daphne Du Maurier and what is it you love about that book so much?

I really can’t decide between Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel. They are both so deliciously dark. Both use the house itself as a malignant character. Both are masterclasses in the art of storytelling. And both have some of the best opening sentences of any novels I’ve ever read: ‘Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again’ and, ‘They used to hang men at Four Turnings in the old days. Not any more, though.’

When did you discover her novels? Were you recommended them? Discover them independently? Which one did you read first?

I first read Jamaica Inn when I was about 19, while I was staying in a house by the sea in Cornwall, and probably because I was staying in a house by the sea in Cornwall. Storm-lashed windows, high seas. Perfect Du Maurier territory.

Image result for images jamaica inn book

Why do you think her novels still resonant with readers today and what makes them so unforgettable?

Part of it is simply that she is a magnificent storyteller. She does all of the things a creative writing tutor will tell you to do: create characters we care about, put them in a distinct setting, and send them on a journey that will change both them and us. She also writes in a way that is both literary and accessible, and which hasn’t really dated. But I think it’s more than that. I think she intended for her novels to leave readers with a sense of uncertainty and of things not being entirely resolved, and so, like Rebecca herself, they continue to haunt us after their ending.

How has she influenced your own writing? Or what impact do you think she has had on the psychological thriller genre as we know it today?

She has influenced the writing of my second novel, which is set on the Isle of Skye in the 19th century. I went back to her books because I wanted to capture that sense of foreboding and that idea of the house itself as a significant presence. My novel also involves malevolent bird-like creatures, so of course I had to re-read The Birds, which remains as chilling as ever.

Image result for images the birds hitchcock   Image result for images the birds hitchcock     Image result for images the birds hitchcock
Which recent psychological thriller do you think Daphne Du Maurier would have wanted to have written if she were alive today?

I’m not sure she would have wanted to have written any of them. I reckon she’s way ahead of the rest of us. If she was alive today, she would be writing in a genre that the rest of us hadn’t discovered yet.

Have you seen any of the screen adaptations of her books? Will you be going to see My Cousin Rachel? Are you able to enjoy film adaptations or do you find yourself flicking through your paperback and checking for accuracy ?!

I will indeed be going to see My Cousin Rachel, although Du Maurier would probably have hated it. Of the many film adaptations of her stories, apparently the only ones she liked were Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. I’m still recovering from seeing Don’t Look Now about fifteen years ago.

If you were able to host a ‘fantasy book group’ and Du Maurier came along, what question might you ask her about her own novels? What question do you think she might set your book group about her novels?

Well, she was pretty reclusive, so I’m not sure how keen on this she’d be, but as this is a fantasy book group, perhaps we can host it at Menabilly. I’d love to know what she really thought of Rebecca. Did she just see her as Maxim portrays her, or did Rebecca have her own, entirely different story? And was it true that the seed of the story lay in du Maurier’s jealousy of Jan Ricardo, the first fiancĂ©e of her husband?

Can you recommend any other authors or books for fans of Du Maurier’s novels?

I confess I haven’t found anyone who’s quite like her and would love to know if there is anyone similar. However, in terms of sinister gothic, I would recommend everything by Shirley Jackson, The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley and of course much earlier works like The Woman in White (which Du Maurier herself loved) and Wuthering Heights.  

And to end her guest post, Anna has an extra Obscure Du Maurier-Related Fact to share!

In 1997 the singer songwriter Enya bought Ayesha Castle in Killiney, County Dublin, and renamed it Manderley Castle because of her love of Rebecca!

Thank you so much Anna, I thoroughly enjoyed your answers and hearing all about the influence Du Maurier has had on your writing. Thank you so much for coming along today! 

The Unseeing was published in January 2017 by Tinder Press and available to buy on ebook and paperback. Mazzola is currently working on her second novel for which I am first in the queue to buy a copy when it hits the bookshops! 

Anna Mazzola, Writer 
The UnseeingAnna Mazzola
Anna Mazzola is a writer of historical crime fiction. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is published in the UK and US. The Times calls it 'sizzling'. The Mirror describes it as, 'a brilliant debut.’ In 2016, Amazon named Anna as one of their Rising Stars.

Her second novel, about a collector of folklore on the Isle of Skye, will be published by Headline in Spring 2018.

Anna studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a criminal justice solicitor. She lives in Camberwell, London, with two small children, two cats and one husband. 

You can find out more about Anna by clicking on the following links: 


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  1. What a great interview! I really enjoyed reading this and will look forward to the other posts in your series this week.

    1. ah Hayley thats so great to hear! thanks so much! hope you enjoy them!


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