Last summer, when the cover art for Hallowed was first released, I jokingly threatened to show up at Cynthia Hand’s house with a pie and $20 in the hopes that she’d let me read the book early. I’m grateful that Cynthia tactfully overlooked my
borderline stalker tendencies fangirling enough to do a two-part interview for this blog.
In yesterday’s post, she went into detail about her exhaustive research for this series and talked about the question of free will versus predestination. Today we’re taking a look at the lighter side of things now that we’ve gotten those burning questions out of the way.
Fun Questions with Cynthia Hand!
How has your life changed since you published Unearthly? It must be pretty amazing to have readers react to your characters with such devotion.
It’s been a crazy year, that’s for sure. When I was writing Unearthly, I really was writing for myself, exploring that world every day, spending time with Clara. But since the book’s been out everything is so much more hectic. I have to schedule time to spend with my characters now!
It’s been fantastic to read the reaction from the readers. I’ve been trying to stop reading the reviews, since it can be so distracting, but I love finding out what the reader’s favorite moments were or their favorite lines and hearing their predictions about where the series is going to go. The readers are the best part of this whole publishing thing. It is awesome to get to share my little story with so many people.
What’s a typical day like for you these days? Is it hard to balance being a writer and a mom and a wife and a professor?
My typical day is a circus, truthfully. I take walks with the family in the morning, cook breakfast, truck the kids off to daycare for a few hours, spend some time writing, then clean and do laundry and cook dinner and read stories and give baths and slip away to do interviews and blog and keep up with all the marketing and email flurries and fan mail. It’s exhausting, honestly. I need a housekeeper in the worst way. I took the semester off from teaching for the spring and I am so glad I did. I’ve got way too much on my plate. Which is a good problem to have, I try to remind myself. Other people would be very happy to have my problems.
A lot of readers really like the outdoorsy Wyoming setting for this series. Do you ski, fish, go winter camping, etc, as Clara does?
I have never been winter camping, come to think of it, although I’ve been regular summer camping lots of times. Yes, most of the stuff Clara does in the series, I have done. It was great to grow up in Idaho. I was a ski racer in high school. I won a lot of silver medals in local races, I remember. I also love fishing and hiking and white water rafting, although I don’t get to do those things much anymore. (Wants to move back to Idaho)
Are there other elements of Clara that can be found in you?
I used to be a ballet dancer, like Clara, and a skier. Outside of that, I think the one element in here where I can really see myself is the way she thinks about her dad. My parents divorced when I was seventeen, which was pretty devastating. Clara’s family broke up a lot earlier than that, when she was three, but a lot of the things she says about her dad are straight out of my heart. There’s a passage in the early part of Unearthly where she’s talking about her dad that could almost bring me to tears when I read it. Clara has a powerful memory of her dad shaving, which is utterly mine. And in Hallowed Clara really gets to reconnect with her dad in the face of a tragedy, which is similar to what happened to me. That and I’d like to think she and I have the same kind of sense of humor.
Were you prepared for the emotional response your books have received?
No, I wasn’t really prepared for how heated and intense it could get. But I think that’s wonderful. Good books should grab you by the gut, so I am pleased when I see that kind of thing happen for my readers. It tells me I got something right.
I think one of the most memorable things that has happened to me so far was one day while I was at Pepperdine about to teach a fiction class, a group of prospective high-school-aged students walked by on a tour, and one girl stepped out of the crowd and stopped me and said, “You’re Cynthia Hand! I love your book!” I was so stunned that she recognized me! Another time a fan drove five hours just to have me sign a book at this little writer event I was doing, and I could see in her face how important it was to her, and I was so touched that I almost started to cry. I was also nine months pregnant at the time, so I was a tad emotional in general. . .
There was quite a buzz when it was announced that Unearthly had been optioned for development as a television series. What’s your biggest hope for that project? Were there any “THIS MUST HAPPEN” clauses that you insisted on?
Nope, there were no clauses. I didn’t have that kind of clout as a writer when that stuff started happening. The series is a wonderful, terrifying thing for me. I am super excited about the possibility of seeing this story come to life in this way. My biggest hope is that the writers capture the spirit of the original books in an honest way, and I think that’s happening. (Crosses fingers)
And now, for personal reading questions! Book, e-reader, or both?
I have both and I love both. My Kindle is always with me, but it will never quite match the smell and feel of a book in my hands.
What was your favorite book as a young adult?
Makes sense! And finally, what book are you most dying to read in 2012?
Hallowed is available for pre-order and will be out in stores on Tuesday, January 17th. If you haven’t read this beautiful sequel yet, you’re in for a treat. And if you haven’t yet read Unearthly…what on earth are you waiting for?
Don’t forget that Harper Teen has Unearthly on sale as an ebook for just 99 cents right now, too! So there’s really no excuse for not finding out what everyone is raving about.
Big thanks to Cynthia for her thoughtful and gracious answers. Be sure to stay up to date on everything she’s up to via her blog, GoodReads, and Twitter!