Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb are the authors of the new novel Meet Me in Monaco. They also have co-written the novel Last Christmas in Paris, and each of them has written several other novels. Gaynor lives in Ireland, and Webb lives in New England.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Meet Me in Monaco, and why did you decide to focus the novel around the 1956 wedding of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier?
A: We knew we wanted to write a summer book; something charming and fun and filled with glamour so naturally, the south of France came to mind, and Monaco and Grace Kelly soon followed! We were intrigued by the idea of fate and how a chance meeting with someone can set our lives on a different course, as was the case with Grace Kelly’s meeting with Prince Rainier while she was at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955. This meeting with a prince changed everything for Grace, just as our fictional characters’ lives change after a chance encounter with her, and each other.
Q: How closely do the two of you work on your novels? Can you describe your writing process?
A: We work very closely with each other. We each take a chapter and a character, and from there, we write our first draft, dividing the writing time over our working week. We then edit the book together. We have regular plotting chats (via Google) every other week, sometimes more often. When we get stuck on something or need to make a big decision, we brainstorm and one of us plays devil’s advocate sometimes to make sure our characters’ motivations are sound and that the direction in which we’re headed makes sense. It’s such fun having a writing partner!
Q: Much of the novel is set in and near Monaco. How important is setting to you in your writing?
A: Although character will always be the main focus of our novels, setting is very important as often where our novel takes place is a big piece of the story, and the events therein. This was also the case in our first co-written novel, Last Christmas in Paris. Also, we both enjoy writing lush descriptions so it’s great fun to create dramatic details to make the world come alive for the reader.
Q: What do you see as Grace Kelly’s legacy today?
A: Beyond her timeless films and iconic style and that wedding dress, she established a charity – The Princess Grace Foundation USA - devoted to aspiring actors that still raises millions today. She also left behind a family that believes in charity and helping their fellow citizens, both in Monaco and on the world stage. The world could use much more people like Princess Grace.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: We’re busy working on our third Gaynor & Webb book, called Advice for Lady Adventurers. A historical Thelma and Louise, it’s about two feuding sisters who must follow in the footsteps of Nellie Bly in a race around the world in order to secure their inheritance, only to be confronted by the Nazi occupation in Europe. It is scheduled for publication in spring 2021!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.