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Monday, June 4, 2012

Interview: Han Nolan, author of Pregnant Pause + Giveaway

I'm honoured and delighted to be joined today by the wonderful Han Nolan, author of the poignant and thought-provoking YA contemporary novel, Pregnant Pause.
If you missed my review of Pregnant Pause click here, or simply scroll down a bit (it's the post below this one).

1. Welcome to Bookish, Han! Thank you so much for being one of the guest during the Contemporary Fiction Month feature! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks so much for inviting me, Evie. Okay, a little bit about myself. Besides writing, I love to read, of course, and run (a lot!) and hike, (a lot!), swim and bike. I'm just learning to play the violin, (stink at it so far but I love it), I have two daughters, and twin grandsons, and another grandson on the way, and I've been in love with and happily married to a wonderful and supportive husband for the past thirty one years.

2. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Pregnant Pause, it was an eye-opening and very meaningful read! Would you mind telling us who or what inspired you to write it?

When I was a student teacher years and years ago, it was sort of a fad, even a status symbol, to get pregnant while still in high school and again and again I saw these young girls in shock when, among other things, they didn't have the love and support they thought they would have, and their babies didn't always turn out to be that healthy baby boy or girl with all their toes and fingers and high IQs they'd expected. So I guess my story stemmed at least in part from this long ago experience with my students.

3. What would you say is the most important quality your characters possess?

I don't think of my characters as being just one character. I think they each have their own individual qualities. In regards to Elly, the protagonist in Pregnant Pause, I think a couple of her most important qualities are her determination and stubbornness.

4. What was the most difficult part of the novel for you to write?

Some of my novels are just about impossible to write and I struggle all the way through them, and others, well two out of ten, have just spilled from my brain onto the page. Pregnant Pause was one of the ones that spilled onto the page. So I didn't really have a difficult part, which was fortunate because the book before this one called Crazy, took four years to write and nearly drove ME crazy.

5. Have you always wanted to be a writer? At what point in your life did you decide that writing is something you want to do? 

Yes, I have always wanted to be a writer and I remember being eight years old and thinking that I wanted to be a writer and live in New England, but I never believed I would actually become one because other than writing the stories, I didn't have a clue about how to go about becoming a writer. Over the years I thought about becoming other things and even majored in Dance, getting BS and MA degrees in it, but eventually I returned to my first love--writing.

6. Did you have any funny/crazy fan moments yet? (If so, please do share!)

I've had stalker fans at conferences, and I get a lot of mail where a student wants me to do their homework for them and they try to trick me into doing it, but to tell you the truth, most of my fan letters are from intelligent, and thoughtful readers who have taken the time to write to me and tell me how much they've enjoyed my book, or books. I've even gotten letters from men in prison--beautiful letters.

7. How do you approach writing a new novel? Are you a plotter or a panther?

Oh, I don't plot ahead of time or have an outline. I start out with something very vague, a sentence, a slim bit of an idea, or a character and then I like to see where that sentence, or character, or thought will take me. It makes it more interesting for me not to know where I'm going. Then when I've written the story of course I go back and clean up the mess I've made and make it make sense--connecting all the stray bits and fleshing out others.

8. What's next in line for you? Are you working on a new book now?

I'm in the process of a major re-write of my tenth novel. It's a bit of a mess right now so lots of work to do on it.

9. Which three contemporary books would you like to see adapted into motion pictures?

I always prefer a book version to a movie version so I'll have to say none.

10. If your book had a soundtrack to accompany it, what songs would be on it?

The song Jack and Diane ("Little ditty about Jack and Diane, two American kids doin' the best they can…"

Han, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to join us here today! Crazy is next on my TBR list and I can't wait to dive into it! I'm also looking forward to reading your next books!

About the author:

I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. When I was 9 months old my family moved to New York where I spent most of my childhood and teen years. When I was a toddler, I had white blond hair that stood straight up on my head. My family called me "Hoot" back then because that and my big eyes made me look like an owl. I couldn't pronounce my first and middle names, which were Helen Harris, so I said "Hannah Hollis". My family shortened this to a variety of nicknames: Hahn, Han Holl, Han, Hannie, and Hannie Bucket, which my husband later shortened to Hannie B. The neighborhood kids also called me Hahn. It is now pronounced, Han, and it rhymes with man.

I was very active as a child--I loved to jump on beds, do somersaults, handstands and flips on and off of sofas, climb trees and do different tricks on the monkey bars at the playground. I also liked my own thoughts best. In kindergarten, I paid no attention to my teacher. She told my mother that she thought I had a hearing problem. My parents had my hearing tested. My ears were fine. When my mother told me what the teacher had said I replied that I heard my teacher all right, it's just that she kept interrupting all my good thoughts!

I've loved stories for as long as I can remember. One of my favorite memories is of my father telling me bedtime stories, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, B'rer Rabbit, and stories from the Bible such as my favorite, Joseph and his Coat of Many Colors. I loved to make up my own stories too. I didn't write them down until I was a little older, but I sure loved to make them up.

One of my favorites books as a child was "Harriet the Spy". I wanted to be a spy, so I started spying on my family, especially my older sister. It turned out I was a terrible spy because I kept getting caught, but I kept a spy notebook, just like Harriet. I quickly gave up on the spying, but writing thoughts and stories in a notebook has been a habit for me ever since.

When I was ten, I saw the movie "The Sound of Music" and I fell in love with it. Back then if you wanted to see a movie more than once you had to go to the theater. We didn't have videos. I only saw it once but I had the record album with all the music on it and I learned every word of it. I made up dances to go with it and gave a performance for my family. My brothers and sisters laughed at me. My parents and grandmother applauded and told me I was wonderful. For years after seeing that movie I would lie awake nights remembering the story of the Sound Of Music and making up my own stories to go with it. Lying awake nights making up stories instead of sleeping is a habit I still have, as my husband can tell you.

My elementary school years were tough--I hated school. I wanted to be at home with my mother. I used to feel sick to my stomach every morning and my mother would let me stay home sometimes. We moved to Kentucky when I was in the fifth grade. I stayed home a lot that year and I missed so much school I had to repeat the grade to make up all the work I had missed. After that I didn't get sick to my stomach anymore.

I didn't do well in school until the sixth grade. That's the year I was given my first creative writing assignment. I had been writing stories at home for years and of course keeping a journal filled with more stories and poems and all those important thoughts I had. My homeroom/English teacher was very impressed by my writing and this made me feel smart. I decided to do well in school after that, and I did. But what if that teacher hadn't encouraged me?

When I was 13, my mother enrolled me in dance class. At first I felt like a big oaf--all the other kids were younger, or had been taking dance lessons for years, so I was behind. But I loved it, and I began to work at it all the time: stretching so I could do splits and high kicks and dancing around the house to music. Two years later I was invited to join the special master classes for the best students. All that hard work had paid off.

I loved dance--I continued lessons into high school, and then went to college and graduate school as a dance major. I went to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as an undergraduate, and went to Ohio State for my Masters degree.

So how did I end up as a writer?

I got married after Grad school and I soon realized that my dancing took up too much of the wrong time. When my husband was at work I was at home, and when he was home I was dancing. I didn't like that at all, even though my husband took a beginning ballet class just so he could spend time with me. I left dance and I decided to return to my first love, writing. Soon after that we adopted three children and I knew for sure that staying home and writing instead of dancing was the best decision for me.

As an adult I still love to spend time with my family and friends, and I love to read, run, hike, bike, swim, go to plays and concerts, travel, and of course, write.

For more information about Han Nolan and her books, please visit her website: click here.
!!! ~Giveaway~!!!

Thomas Allen & Son has generously offered to give away one copy of Pregnant Pause

OPEN TO: Canada only
Ends: June 30th

To enter: 
Be a follower of this blog, 13 or older 

Enter via rafflecopter below:

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This Interview + Giveaway was posted as part of the Contemporary Fiction Month feature. Click on the picture for full schedule.


Rachelia (Bookish Comforts) said...

Wow, great interview Evie! I also enjoyed learning Han's life in the "About the Author" section - especially how creative writing made her want to go to school after years of staying home, feeling ill and avoiding school. The power of books and writing!

Rachelia (Bookish Comforts) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

Fantastic interview!! I really love getting to know more about authors and about their books.

Evie said...

Thanks you guys! I had so much fun talking with Han, she is a wonderful and fascinating person! :) So happy to have her here with us today!

Emy said...

This is certainly a great interview :).I think you really know what questions to ask.Good job.

Alicia said...

So interesting that she actually got experience in seeing what it was like for teenmom's in highschool while she worked at schools. Sad to read/hear about girls that think they need to find love in a baby.

Great interview and thanks for the giveaway Evie

Alicia said...

So interesting that she actually got experience in seeing what it was like for teenmom's in highschool while she worked at schools. Sad to read/hear about girls that think they need to find love in a baby.

Great interview and thanks for the giveaway Evie

Patrice said...

It is interseting that it took her 4 yrs to get the story written just right. It just shows you to keep working on it and it will pan out.

tinkerbell the bipolar faerie said...

Great interview.

Randi said...

The more book-to-movie adaptations I see, the more I agree with Han that book versions are (almost) always better! I would much rather read the book, and if I see the movie first, I know I won't go back & read...Sadly. Great interview!

Randi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jetches said...

Wow this book does sounds rather good. Thanks for doing the interview its actually drawn my attention more to the book!

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

It sounds like your father was quite a storyteller! In my family it was my mother. She told a few key family stories but mostly she made sure we went to the library ever week and she read to us at least once a day! Nothing like instilling the love of books (stories) in your children!

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

Thanks for the heads-up on the novel. From the title one might think that it is a funnt book. Your review says that it is about happenings that are anything but -- pregnancy and suicide are fairly serious topics (altho they might have their humorous sides). Thank you!

Kris (Imaginary Reads) said...

Great interview! I love how the characters don't have one single important quality. That they are defined by more than one word.

Tiffany Mahaffy said...

GREAT interview Evie!!! It's always interesting to know what stories pour right out of authors and what ones are a fight to get out.

Shari Green said...

Yay for another Han Nolan book! I hadn't heard of this one -- sounds really good. :)

I always find it encouraging to hear of an author who approaches novel-writing in much the same way I do -- beginning with a vague something and seeing where it takes me. I guess it's good for my confidence as an aspiring author to know my lack of pre-planning isn't necessarily bad!

Thanks for the interview!

Laura (The Zealous Reader) said...

I've read a few other books about teen pregnancy, but this one seems to stand out. I can't wait to read it!

Kristie Matheson said...

I always like to see books about current teen issues. This will be my first read on a book about teen pregnanc. Looks like a good read :)

FireStarBooks said...

Great interview! I love a book that tackles real issues. Thank you!

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