Interview with Eileen Hodgetts, author of 'Whirlpool'


Eileen Enwright Hodgetts is the author ofWhirlpool.  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.
To get your copy of Whirlpool by Eileen Hodgetts at Amazon:
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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Eileen .  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A:I have been writing since I was about 12 years old, and that was a surprisingly long time ago,  I cannot think of a time in my life when I didn’t want to write.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: My book is set in Niagara Falls, mainly on the Canadian shore.  The year is 1923 and Evangeline Murray, a young widow from Ohio, has come to grasp the opportunity of fame and fortune by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Although her sponsors are supporters of the Women’s Freedom Movement, Evangeline is mainly interested in making money, and getting an opportunity to go to Hollywood.  However, when she actually sees the Falls, she realizes that this is not a lighthearted escapade, and she might well be killed in her attempt.  So what price fame?

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it? 

A: I spent a considerable amount of time in Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario, finding out about the history of Niagara daredevils and the success and failure rate of barrel riders.  The biggest challenge was to have the modern reader understand the life choices of a woman in the 1920’s because they are so different from the choices we are offered today.  

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A:My information is mainly one line at

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A: Whirlpool started life as a musical theatre production and was performed for tourists at the Niagara Falls Convention Center, Niagara Falls, New York.  At that time we received considerable publicity including local radio and t.v. interviews, and of course we shared the story with the audience every night.  I have not appeared on any t.v. or radio programs since I converted the book into a novel.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A:  I have had an agent; but I no longer have an agent.  I found it a very unsatisfactory experience.  Although I was thrilled when an agent agreed to accept me as a client, and I appreciated the feedback of the agent, and also of an editor, I found that the agent was not having any success in placing my work, and I was still doing most of the work myself.  The process is very slow and several years went by before I decided just to do it all myself.  The advent of e-books helped me to put the book out onto the market and test the waters.  Later I added a paperback version.  I enjoy the fact that I am now hearing from real people who have read the book.  I think that for the average unknown author an agent is not a great help.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: No, I did not prepare any major publicity.  I face booked and e–mailed my contacts and waited to see what would happen.  I was raised in Britain and suffer from the usual British reticence to beat my own drum.  However, I am now using a publicity agent to spread the word about the book.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A:  I have published another novel called Dragons Green, and I am planning a third novel which I hope to have available in December.
Q: Thank you for your interview, Eileen .  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A:  My books are available at


The year is 1923 and the jazz age is in full swing. Evangeline Murray, a young widow from Ohio, is recruited by the Women’s Freedom Movement to represent the spirit of modern womanhood by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Evangeline eagerly embraces her opportunity to achieve fame and fortune, until she sees the power of the River and begins to understand the risk she is taking. Joshua McClaren, an enigmatic battle-scarred veteran of World War I, and the best boatman on the river, reluctantly agrees to launch the headstrong Evangeline. Joshua has seen hundreds of bodies surface in the Whirlpool below the Falls, and has faced death on the battlefields of Flanders and has no respect for the charming, impetuous Mrs. Murray, and her desire for fame. Before the barrel can be launched, each of them will have to face their own demons, painful secrets will be revealed and the Niagara Rivers will claim two more lives. Inspired by true stories of the Falls, Whirlpool is a romance, an adventure, and the closest that most of us will ever come to taking the fateful plunge over the Falls.Whirlpool is a fiction that is based on reality. Seven people have tried to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Four have succeeded and three have died. The first person to make the attempt was Annie Taylor, a middle aged school teacher from Michigan who made a successful journey in 1901. Barrel riding at Niagara Falls is now forbidden by law, but at the beginning of the 20th century Niagara was a haven for daredevils of all types, and many of their exploits are included in the novel.

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