Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Hannah Warren, author of romance novel CASABLANCA, MY HEART, and historical mystery novel PSYCHIC CONFESSIONS, and welcome her to my blog. Before we begin, here is some biographical information about Hannah:
Hannah Warren was born in Paris, France, in 1956 as a second child to a Dutch father and an English mother. She has lived in The Netherlands almost all her life but maintains strong ties with her own favourite triangle: France, UK and Holland.
Hannah studied Dutch literature and Mass Communication at the University of Amsterdam and later obtained a B.A. in English Literature and Language and a B.A. in Translation from Rotterdam University. After having been a lecturer and a translator for many years, she now works as a staff member at the International Office of HZ University of Applied Sciences in Vlissingen.
Her free-time is taken up by writing fiction, teaching Yoga and pottering around in the garden. After having been a single mum for nearly two decades, her three children have flown the nest. The great sadness that befell Hannah in March 2014 was the loss of her eldest child, daughter Joy, who died after an intense two-year struggle against bile duct cancer.
From the age of 8, Ms Warren has written poetry and short stories but it took her over 50 years to become a published author. Her debut novel – the literary romance Casablanca, My Heart was published by Thorstruck Press in June 2014. Psychic Confessions, first book in the series The Cottage On The Border (November 2014, Thorstruck Press) is Hannah’s second novel and positions her as a writer of suspenseful family sagas.
Thank you for having me, Marcia! It’s an honour and a delight.
Q: For how long have you been writing?
A: Oh Marcia, for as long as I could hold a pen, which is over 50 years now. Until the age of 20 I wrote in Dutch, being brought up in The Netherlands but then switched to English, which is my mother tongue. It took me 50 years to become a published author, though.
Q: Have any life experiences inspired you to write your books?
A: I think a writer soaks up every life experience she stumbles upon and somehow converts that into fiction. It’s being born with the gift of the senses: colours, sounds, tastes, smells & feelings: they are all constantly in some stage of being transformed into words on paper or the screen.
I know this may sound like a vague answer to a concrete question about concrete life events but I truly believe I was a writer first and then got the extraordinary – often incredibly hard – life that met the job.
Q: Each writer works in different ways with reference to writing. Do you have a writing program/schedule that works for you?
A: Oh-oh, I’m really hopeless at sticking to schedules. I do NaNoWriMo every year and manage to squeeze out 50K of words in less than 30 days every November. Then, always promising myself I’ll continue to be a good girl in December, fall flat on my nose already on December 1st. I’m a bit of an all-or-nothing type of girl, continuously telling myself to get into the routine of writing at least 500 words a day. That day will come! *nods with determination*
Q: Do you have any favorite book genres which you love to read?
A: I’m a sucker for old books. I try to grow up and become more modern but always seem to return to the classics. Having only a restricted time for reading at the moment, I really want to learn as much as I can to hone my craft and so…yes… that’s the reason. I study storytelling, vocabulary, sentence construction, atmosphere from the first novel writers. When I retire from the paid job, I’m going to allow myself to read wild and free.
Q: Are there any favorite books and authors who have been influential upon you and your writing?
A: Rows and rows of authors and books, but first and foremost 19th and early 20th century writers: Russians (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov), Brits (Brontë sisters, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy), French, (Gustave Flaubert, Stendhal, Zola), Americans (Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe). I always feel rather embarrassed bringing this up as it has layers and layers of dustiness around it and I already sense your readers raising their delicate eyebrows at my outmoded list. As said before, these books are more study material to me than reading distraction.
Q: From my reading experience of CASABLANCA, MY HEART, I found it to be an engrossing, lush romance novel that kept my interest in the story, and its characters, until the very end. I also enjoyed the usage of international locales which added veracity, and interest to the story in a natural style. What inspired you to write the story of romance novelist Heather Simpson, and chart the course of her life over a multi-year period?
A: Thank you so much for your praise, Marcia. I was really moved by your kind review at the time! And gosh, a good question to ask about Casa’s origins! Once upon a time I was a Harlequin translator and for some reason thought I’d give the genre a try myself and this is what came out. I do love writing about other countries, feeling rather isolated on this small post stamp called Holland. So in my writing I always venture into the exotic or simply just next door. Part of Psychic Confessions is situated in Germany.
To be honest, I don’t have a clue where my stories really come from. I’m a classic example of “l’ecriture automatique”. With only a vague idea about the story and the main characters, I sit down at my computer and type what these characters come up with and what scenes develop. I’m forever trying to monitor where the story is going and sometimes see it deviate completely. ‘Ah well’, I then think, ‘you lot do whatever comes into your silly heads’. It’s what I call the Mystic Muse. Enjoy the ride every time, though.
Q: Amongst your stories, is there one which is closest to your heart, and why?
A: I think it’s the story of my heroine in Daughter of The Alvar Book 1, Ingrid Gunarsson. It’s such a tragic story of a young vicar’s daughter who has all the wonderful prospects of a happy life before her when fate jumps in and changes everything. It’s purity trampled into the soil with filthy boots. And still her song is sung by her daughter Agnes. The story is based on some historical evidence and is situated on the island of Öland in the Baltic Sea, where I used to spend many happy holidays with my children.
Q: Do you have any favorite TV shows, either from the past, or currently on the air?
A: I hardly watch TV, sometimes the news. Oh yes, I do love Downton Abbey, in fact most BBC historical dramas. Now wouldn’t I?
Q: Are there any hobbies or pastimes you like to participate in when you have spare time?
A: I walk a lot and then listen to audiobooks. And I practise Yoga. I’m a qualified Yoga instructor but due to circumstances have had to give up giving lessons but I still do it myself every day. Prevents me from growing too old too soon. Hopefully.
Q: You are a versatile writer in terms of genres, tackling stories in the romance, women’s fiction, and mystery genres. Would you like to write stories in any other genres?
A: I think I’m not really a contemporary romance writer after all but never say never so perhaps I’ll return to the genre someday. At the moment, I love writing historical fiction, being the fact-checking-maniac, but I might dabble in fantasy as well some time or other. There is a series in the back of my mind circling around an otherworldly theme.
Q: Are you left-handed, or right-handed? Being a left-hander, it is interesting to see how many writers are either one or the other, or ambidextrous.
A: Haha, good question. Originally completely left-handed but forbidden to be a lefty by both school and parents, so became a right-handed person by force. Still do sports left-handed and am always pointed out I walk on the right side of my bicycle when pushing it, which points to left-handedness as well.
Q: Do you have any other writing projects, or new/upcoming releases, that you would like to mention to readers?
A: I’m currently editing “Ingrid” Book 1 in Daughter of the Alvar Series, which will come out in mid-2015. This is a historical family saga situated in south-Sweden in the 1890s. I was writing Book 2 in that series called “Agnes” but am now putting that on hold to first write the second book in The Cottage on The Border Series called The Angel Within. In the final stages of editing Psychic Confessions, I realised it needed a sequel.
At Christmas, my publishing company Thorstruck Press will bring out an anthology, with – among others – a story from my hand called The Blood-Red Nails of War, dealing with a snippet of Agnes’s life in World War I.
So yes, very busy writing-wise.
I am certain you will join me in thanking Hannah today for her time, and that we look forward to reading more of her works in the future. If you wish to contact Hannah, she is available on:
– Hannah’s books can be accessed by clicking on the book covers below: