Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is the author of Whirlpool. She is a much traveled writer. Brought up in England and Wales, she has also lived and worked in South Africa and Uganda and now makes her home in Pittsburgh, PA. Her life experiences allow her to use exotic backgrounds for her novels and to understand how an adventure can begin with just one small incident. For ten years she directed a humanitarian mission in East Africa and is also involved in a Ugandan Coffee Farm. Much of her writing reveals not only her great fondness for the British Isles, but also her British sense of humor which still sees the funny side of most situations.
In addition to writing novels, Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is also an accomplished playwright with a number of national awards to her credit. Her novel, Whirlpool, began life as a stage musical playing at the Niagara Falls Convention Center in Niagara Falls, New York. In 1993 the Mayor of Niagara Falls, NY, proclaimed the summer of 1993 as Whirlpool Theater Days in honor of the production.
The author’s award-winning courtroom drama Titanic to All Ships will open at the Comtra Theater on April 13 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The drama, created under a Fellowship Grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a dramatic re-telling of the Senate Hearings into the tragedy. The play has won several national awards.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My first book is called Dragon’s Green and its inspiration goes back a long way in my life. It is a story about an exiled European royal family and their attempts to reclaim their throne after fall of communism. I was inspired by actually meeting a woman of royal European descent who had been carried out Albania at the beginning of WWII. When I met her she was working in a grocery store. I carried the story around in my head for years until I worked it into a novel
What books have influenced your life the most?
She by H. Rider Haggard was the most imaginative book I had ever read up until that time.Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles; okay, I know that’s not what Mars is really like, but it is so well written and compelling and the characters are believable.The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Follett has a wonderful way of starting a new section of the plot, while you are still completing the first section. In other words the story is always on the move. Before each crisis is solved, a new crisis has arisen. It’s really hard to put a Ken Follett book down.A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller was written in 1960 but set so far in the future that it still has not dated. I consider it a masterpiece, not only in its plotting and vision but also in the way Miller uses comedy and irony to make his points.A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. The writer of this insane comic masterpiece committed suicide. I would love to know what else he would have written if he had been able. My secret liking is for the works of Jeffrey Farnol, a British writer of the 1930’s who wrote unashamedly romantic fiction of great adventures through the English countryside, runaway brides, good hearted yokels, faithful knights. Just excellent
What are your current projects?
I have completed Whirlpool, my second novel about a woman trying to gain fame and fortune by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. I am now working on an African novel. I spent 12 years as a Mission Director in Uganda and I think that I have a good insight into modern Africa and the interface between the old beliefs and ways of doing things and the modern world.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Thank heaven for word processing. I cannot imagine writing without a word processor. I was changing things in Whirlpool right up until the last minute, but I don’t think I would change anything now. The feedback is good and I don’t think I can improve on it.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I was recently told that the book I am writing has no real hero and no real villain. That’s tough criticism but I have to admit it’s the truth. I have to do a major rewrite. I have learned to listen to criticism as a constructive thing and not as a personal attack.
What has been the best compliment?
“I couldn’t put it down” is what I always love to hear.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t talk about it...do it. So many people have a story they want to tell but they never write it down and the world is that much poorer. If you have the passion; find the time.
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
I think I am an encourager.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I find it difficult to encourage myself and go through periods of thinking that I have nothing valuable to contribute to the world.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I love what the Web and the internet has done for writers. I used to trek into Pittsburgh to the main Carnegie Library to find out simple facts that I can now discover on line in just a few seconds.