Paula Hawkins ***

Book Festival

Sat 12 Aug (one day only)


The main Baillie Gifford tent was packed out for the author of the bestselling hit, ‘The Girl on the Train’. A book that sold over 5 million copies and was made into a blockbuster movie starring Emily Blunt.

Paula Hawkins was chaired by Lee Randall who is a book festival favourite herself. It was the usual Book Festival fare and I must admit I’m not a fan of chaired events unless there is more than one author onstage. In this case especially, I feel the event would have been livelier and more engaging had Paula addressed the audience directly.

Hawkins’ second book, ‘Into the Water’ was published earlier this year so she is well practised in giving interviews and I think I expected a little more from her than she delivered. Again, this could be down to the dry format of the book festival event and nothing to do with Paula herself.

It was interesting to hear about her journey as a writer, she was genuinely shocked that ‘The Girl on The Train’ was such a massive success. She had begun writing ‘Into the Water’ almost immediately after finishing her first book, but with all ‘the nonsense’ surrounding ‘The Girl on The Train’, the writing of that book was continually interrupted and explains why there is a such a gap between the two.

I enjoyed ‘The Girl on The Train’ immensely and I have ‘Into the Water’ downloaded on my kindle ready for holiday reading next week. I had been worried that she might become one of those writers who write to a formula because it has been so successful and it’s what her publishers may have pushed for. I was relieved when she said that ‘Into the Water’ is nothing like ‘The Girl on The Train’ but a standalone thriller in its own right.

During the discussion between Hawkins and Randall it came out that Hawkins had previously written romance novels. Not just one or two – but four for a contract when she was still a financial journalist. They were not very successful and I thought it was bold of her to discuss them as most authors would probably try to deflect from the less successful moments of their writing career.

As an aspiring writer myself, it is encouraging to know that even people who become hugely successful have had their failures along the way. I admired her candour in sharing her story and her willingness to keep going with her writing career until she found her own voice. It has certainly paid off.

It upset many people (me included) that The Girl on the Train was set in New York instead of London. Whilst film rights are up for grabs for ‘Into the Water’, fans will be happy to know that this time it will be filmed on British soil.


‘The Girl on The Train’ and ‘Into the Water’ are both published by Penguin Random House

Sharon Jones