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Journalist as author: Hadley Freeman – House of Glass

During this difficult time ResponseSource continues to support journalists and the media, including shining a light on the work of journalists and writers. Guardian columnist and features writer Hadley Freeman is the author of a number of books based on her specialisms, fashion and entertainment. This month’s launch of House of Glass marks a departure in to writing about her own family history, and she agreed to tell us a bit about the story and research behind it.

Can you introduce your book in a couple of sentences?

It’s the true story of my grandmother and her three brothers, who were in Paris in the run-up to the Second World War, and what happened to them over the course of the 20th century.

Could you tell us about how you came to write House of Glass?

I’d always known there was a story behind my grandmother’s life, but had no idea how to find it out. After she died, I was looking through her closet, thinking maybe I could write about her relationship with fashion. In the back, I found a shoebox filled with letters and photos from the 1920s to the 1980s, photographs from what was clearly a concentration camp, prison plates, denunciation letters and a drawing by Picasso. For the next two decades, I set out to find the truth behind these keepsakes.

Are you working on another book, or do you have other projects under way?

Oh God, not yet. To be honest, to have this book come out during the awful pandemic puts a lot of things into perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of the book and thrilled that it’s been received so well. It is, of course, a little frustrating that all the promotion events for it have had to be cancelled, which inevitably has a knock-on effect on sales, and so I’m doing what I can to keep the book in the public eye by tweeting about it. But now that I’m working from home and the schools will surely close soon, my focus is inevitably going to be on my three kids, who are under the age of five, keeping in touch with my parents who are in self-isolation and just keeping the boat afloat, really.

Can you offer any advice to other journalists thinking about writing a book about their family history?

Don’t! It will take over your life!

What books are you reading right now, or about to pick up?

I’m on an Anne Tyler binge. You can never read too much Anne Tyler

Are there any other examples of your everyday journalism that you’re especially proud of or would just like to share?

When an interview goes well, it is incredibly satisfying. I’ve really enjoyed interviewing Mel Brooks & Carl Reiner, Anne Tyler and Tony Slattery.

Are you available for freelance commissions, speaker opportunities or other roles?


If I’m a PR professional with a story or another opportunity for you, how should I get in touch?

By email.

House of Glass (05/03/2020, HarperCollins) is available in hardback, eBook and Audiobook here. Follow Hadley on Twitter @HadleyFreeman or read her work at The Guardian here.

Tags: author, books
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