Q+A with Hannah Calkin
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Since Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite book, I’d have to choose Charlotte Brontë. I’d make an 8-course Italian meal (bring on the pasta and tiramisu) so I could spend as much time with her as possible. I’m so fascinated by early female authors. I want to know all about their lives and how they emerged in the literary world.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
Whenever I start writing something, I always go into it with a really clear idea of what I want to write and how I want it to turn out. Of course, my initial idea undergoes a lot of changes--which in the past I’ve tried to combat--and I’m often scared that whatever I’m writing, if it’s not what I set out to do, is complete nonsense. I have to keep reminding myself that my strongest work has almost always evolved from my original plan, and I have to just let it do that instead of worrying whether or not I’m writing the “right” thing.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
What books are on your nightstand?
Autobiography of Red, Meadowlands, Transformations, Madwoman, What Have You Done to Our Ears to Make Us Hear Echoes?, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude, The Greek Poets, Jane Eyre, and an assortment of Shakespeare plays. I like to keep my inspirations close!
Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
I’m a firm believer in having to be a reader before a writer. Like many young girls with an active imagination, the first stories I read had princesses, fairies, mermaids, knights, magic, and the occasional dragon or troll. They were stories I felt I had to distance myself from in order to be a “mature” writer. I spent I am inspired to think about what they mean, why do we keep retelling them, and what the source of our fascination with them is. I explored a similar concept in my re-imagining of mythological figures. Most people have gone through a Greek Mythology phase at some point in their life, and some never grow out of it. I’ve wondered, why is this the case? Why do we love to retell and use these archetypal figures as vehicles to say what we want to say in a poem? I was constantly driven by these questions while working on Pomegranate Odyssey.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
A semicolon, as I have yet to figure out how to properly use it.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I picked up Silas Marner by George Eliot instead.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
My laptop. It never failed on me while I was working on my manuscript. Or when I left it too close to the edge of my bed and it crashed onto the floor.
Why do you write? The first 5 words that come to mind. Go.
Confrontation. Malleability. Amazement. Curiosity. Equilibrium.
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” --Mark Twain
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