Question: It’s rare today to find an author who does nothing but write for a living. Do you have a day job other than writing, and if so, what is it? What are some other jobs you’ve had in your life? Have they influenced/inspired your writing?
Hana Samek Norton: I worked as a waitress, office help in a plumbing supplies company, teaching assistant, a college professor. Currently I teach â€œcommunityâ€ college part-time — history of course, and consult on litigation support research.
Q: What compelled you to write your first book?
HSN: It started as a challenge to myself since I challenge my students to write and re-write. Many of them find college-level work daunting and some struggle with language and writing skills. I use myself as an example to show them that rejections, setbacks, and criticism are all part and parcel of the process of learning and achieving, for everybody.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?
HSN: No — but I was a reader from the moment I discovered that letters make up words.
Q: Tell us briefly about your book.
A: It’s Anno Domini 1200â€”and medieval mayhem ensues when the octogenarian queen-duchess AliÃ©nor of Aquitaine launches her final, and deadliest, dynastic chess game: to safeguard the crowns of Normandy and England for John Plantagenet, her last surviving son.
Her pawns are Juliana de Charnais, a plain and pious novice, and GuÃ©rin de Lasalle, an enigmatic mercenary knight. Lasalle has no intention of being a husband to the shy young woman, nor to become entangled in John’s own matrimonial mire. But at the heart of AliÃ©nor’s scheme is the mystery of his own past that could cost John his thrones — and Juliana her life.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
HSN: I am working on a sequel which takes place from 1204 to about 1210. This is a fascinating period leading to the conflict that eventually culminated in the Magna Carta, and to the further disintegration of the Plantagenet Empire on the continent. I am glad that AliÃ©nor did not live long enough to see that.
Q: If you could live in one of your books, which one would you live in?
HSN: I am a historian so I have no illusions about the past. I like to live in the 21st century — central heating, hot and cold running water, contraception, antibiotics, Novocain. Can’t beat that.
Q: The main characters of your stories — do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?
HSN: Their admirable qualities are of course all me. I have no idea where the nasty ones come from.
Q: When growing up, did you have a favorite author, book series, or book?
HSN: I did read a lot of what is referred to as historical fiction, for example, the Polish writer Henryk Sienkiewicz. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1905 for â€œoutstanding merit as epic writer.â€ His novels WITH FIRE AND SWORD, THE DELUGE, THE CRUSADERS (Teutonic knights) just amazed me and I suppose became that gateway drug to not only historical fiction, but also to the study of history. I also became addicted to Alexandre Dumas and Jules Verne.
When my family came to Canada I discovered Anya Seton, Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart, Margaret Irwin, Edith Pargeter, Zoe Oldenbourgh, Dorothy Dunnett, Jan Cox Speas, Teresa Denysâ€¦.
Q: When they write your obituary, what do you hope they will say about your book/s and writing? What do you hope they will say about you?
HSN: Published but perished anyway.
Q: Is there anyone who has inspired, motivated, encouraged or supported your writing?
HSN: My friends asking me â€œWhen are you going to be finished?â€
Q: Is there any particular book that, when you read it, you thought, “I wish I had written that!”?
HSN: Pretty much all of them.
Q: In my experience, some things come quite easily (like creating the setting) and other things aren’t so easy (like deciding on a title). What comes easily to you and what do you find more difficult?
HSN: I love research (it’s an occupational hazard), for me, the writing is a matter of persistence and deadlines.
Q: Have you ever had a character take over a story and move it in a different direction than you had originally intended? How did you handle it?
HSN: I let him go to see where he takes me. He turned out to have a better idea than I did.
Interview courtesy of The Hot Author Report (http://www.thehotauthorreport.com).
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