Tour Post: The Seventh Miss Hatfield

by Anna Caltabiano

Pages: 270
Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: July 31st 2014 
ISBN: 1473200393 
Received From:  Gollancz

Check out my review of The Seventh Miss Hatfield by CLICKING HERE.

with Anna
author of The Seventh Miss Hatfield 

What was the inspiration behind The Seventh Miss Hatfield?

Even before I came up with the story, I came up with the character of Henley. After Henley, I dreamed up Miss Hatfield. I fell in love with these characters and built a story around them.
The concept of the story was largely inspired by my curiosity with why we as humans are always so equally fascinated and frightened by death. One interesting way to examine mortality is to write a story about immortality, and explore how the characters deal with such issues as identity, love, and loss. These are among the central issues of all stories, but by introducing immortality into the mix I was able to have fun seeing what changed, and conversely, what is unchanging in all of us. I hope that I created an enjoyable story, but left the reader something to think about when it is all over.

What’s your favorite part of being an author?

I love looking at the world around me and knowing that everything influences my writing in some way. The one comment from that kid in math class, the stranger walking her dog in the park—it all comes together when I write. Sometimes its conscious and I can see specific influences, like part of a dialogue coming from what a friend said at dinner, and sometimes its completely subconscious.

What’s the most challenging part of being an author?

As an author I think it's sometimes terrifying to stop and think about whether readers will enjoy reading what I'm working on. Ultimately, I believe most of the writing I do is for myself. I write because I love it and because I find it's a way for me to work through whatever I have on my mind. To me, writing is cathartic. But through my writing, if I'm at least able to connect with one other person and gently remind them that they're not alone in what they face, I look at that as a success. Sometimes when I get too concerned as to whether others will enjoy what I write, I need to remind myself of why I write in the first place. I need to write something that truly expresses my thoughts. I have to have the faith that if I do that successfully, I will be most likely to connect with others.

Was it difficult to create a character with such a unique voice?

I firmly believe that if you write a character as though he or she is a real person, the character’s unique voice comes out naturally. The first step is making them real to yourself. Everything else follows from that.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

Henley has always been my favourite character. I created his character even before I had most of the story for The Seventh Miss Hatfield. The character of Henley is actually inspired by a young man I saw having tea in the café at Blackwell’s. He still doesn’t know that he inspired a character and a whole series!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m currently reading The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson, which is about the 1854 cholera outbreak in London. I haven’t quite read a book like this before—parts of it are dramatized like a novel, while other parts go into the epidemiology and science of cholera, and still other parts delve into the historical side. It’s a great book about the short and long term implications of the epidemic. I definitely recommend it!

How did you get into writing?

I’ve always loved to write. Of course, when I was little, my writing consisted of extremely short stories often accompanied by crayon drawings. Ever since I could remember, I told myself that one-day, I was going to write a novel.

Another thing you should know about me is that I’m an only child, and normally every summer my dad does what most parents of only children do—sign their kid up for summer camp so they don’t spend their summer on the couch. One summer, to escape summer camp, I told my parents that I was going to write a novel. I loved to write short stories, and I had always meant to write a novel someday, so I decided that that was as good a time as any. Of course, my dad said what any parent in their right mind would say: “Yeah, right.” I ended up parking myself right in the middle of the dining room table all summer to write the first draft of what would later become my first novel, All That is Red.

After All That is Red, I found I couldn’t stop writing. I started writing The Seventh Miss Hatfield shortly afterwards, and now I have its sequel to keep me busy!

Do you find being a younger writer a help or hindrance?

That’s a hard question to answer, since I have never been an “older” writer. I write from my own perspective, with my own experiences, and with my own voice. Maybe it is more difficult to be taken seriously by some who can’t imagine a teenager writing novels, but I am very fortunate to have connected with a wonderful agent and a spectacular publishing house who have focused on my writing rather than my age.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

I’m currently working on the sequel to The Seventh Miss Hatfield. It’s definitely exciting to be working with some of the same characters again. It’s like meeting old friends. As for the plot, I can’t say much, but I think this one might even be more exciting than the first.

And lastly, recommendations! List three books you feel that everyone needs to read and tell us why?

I always end up recommending Wuthering Heights to my friends and anyone on the street I find hasn’t read the book yet. I’ve read it more than a few times myself, but every time I read it, I’m always amazed by the emotion and passion of the characters. Not just Heathcliff, but every character invites us in to experience their vivid emotions with them.

More recently, I’ve read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which I think ranks as one of the best books on writing and life that I’ve ever read. Lamott keeps a fun voice, while imparting such wisdom. There’s so much in the book that I agree with, but have never found quite the right words to express. Lucky for me, Lamott does it with grace. I highly recommend this book to anyone who writes, wants to write, or wants to get an inside view into writing. That being said, I think there’s also some great life advice for anyone.

Lastly, as many already know, I’m a huge fan of Tao Lin. His book of poems, You are a Little Bit Happier Than I Am, struck a chord with me the first time I read it. I read it cover to cover, like a novel, and was amazed by the skill involved to take a lacklustre emotion like boredom, and turn it into a poem, that is every bit a work of art. Some of my favourite poems from the anthology include “Some of my Happiest Moments in Life Occur on AOL Instant Messenger,” “That Night with the Green Sky,” and “You are Somewhere in Florida Right Now.”

The Seventh Miss Hatfield is out 31st of July and UNTIL the 7th of August you can get the ebook for £1.99!

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