Author Interview with Amy Gail Hansen, Author of "The Butterfly Sister"
Created By: BookBundlz
1.If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?
Harper Lee, Virginia Woolf, and Gillian Flynn. Now that would be memorable!
2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?
The drink is a no-brainer. Coffee! To me, a morning without coffee is a horrible way to start the day. The food would be Hint of Salt Triscuits because they are so hearty and filling but have only three ingredients. The book is the hard one but I have to say The Norton Anthology of English Literature. It’s chock full of stories and poetry from so many cherished writers, from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Oscar Wilde to Virginia Woolf. I like variety. I’m certain I’d have something to entertain me no matter my mood.
3. What are your secret indulgences?
It’s not a huge secret but I do love television. I watch a lot of HGTV and Food Network shows. My husband and I are currently engrossed in Season Three of Fringe. I feel lost during the summer because we don’t have anything new to watch. I’m not much of a drinker. I don’t smoke. But I do have a sweet tooth. And I have been known to polish off an entire family-size bowl of popcorn.
4. What about you would surprise your readers?
Before I finished my novel, I wrote two published biographies about country/pop star Taylor Swift. They’re titled Taylor Swift: Love Story and Taylor Swift: Secrets of a Songwriter.
5. What is your perfect day as an author?
Waking up early to a quiet house, a cup of strong coffee, and five hours at the computer getting lost in new material. Lunch. Then a reflective walk followed by reading a good book all afternoon in the sun.
6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?
Jean Louise “Scout” Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. She’s anywhere from 6 to 8 years old in the book, which is the same age my oldest son is right now. There’s a simplicity and innocence about Scout that is inherent in all children. We all lose that somewhere along the way and wish we could get it back. And to be the daughter of the admirable Atticus Finch? Well, what girl wouldn’t want that? (See Question 13)
7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?
I am currently reading The Rathbones by Janice Clark, a fellow writer from Chicago. Janice and I are doing a joint author appearance soon and I want to be completely knowledgeable about her book that night. It’s a contemporary book that reads like a classic, strongly inspired by Moby Dick and The Odyssey. If you studied English literature in college, you’ll love it!
8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?
She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It’s a coming of age story about the flawed and inherently lovable Dolores Price. I read it the summer I graduated from high school, when I transitioned to the unfamiliar world of adulthood and college. It was the perfect book to read at that time in my life, because I found comfort in the fact that despite the trials and tribulations of soul-searching, Dolores finds herself in the end. And that gave me hope that I might one day be comfortable in my own skin.
9. (Aside from your own) What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?
My book club (called Read Between the Wines—made up of myself and two dear friends from high school) has had some really great discussions about lesser known books. One was Little Chapel on the River: A Pub, a Town and the Search for What Matters Most by Gwendolyn Bounds. It’s a memoir about a woman who, after 9/11, moves to upstate New York and becomes a regular at an Irish pub. We LOVED the book. To this day, it’s one of our favorites.
About Your Book:
10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?
In 2004, my husband and I went on our honeymoon to Italy. Moments before I checked my luggage, I realized the tag on my suitcase bore someone else’s name and address. That’s because I’d lent it five years prior to a college acquaintance and hadn’t used it since. Removing her leather tag at the last minute and replacing it with one of those flimsy paper ones the airlines give out, I thought, “What if my bag had gotten lost? Would it have gone to her instead of me? And isn’t that a good idea for a story?” Thus, The Butterfly Sister starts with the delivery of a mysterious suitcase and goes on to tell the story of Ruby Rousseau, a story inspired by that jumping off point.
11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?
Sometimes you must make amends with the past before you can move forward in life.
12. Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book. Perhaps a character says or does something you did not think they would, or something you thought would only be a couple of paragraphs turns into 10 pages. What surprised you about your book?
I wrote the first draft in 18 months and spent another three and a half years rewriting it. When I sat down to rewrite, I came up with an entirely new ending to the book. What surprised me was how I had written all the components to that new ending into the book already. I just hadn’t connected them. It was as if my subconscious knew where I was going all along. Creepy!
13. If you were crafting a discussion question for book clubs to discuss about your book, what question do you think would generate the most discussion?
One of my favorite questions in the PS Section of my book is this: “Think about the role a father plays in a child’s life, especially in regards to girls. How could a woman’s relationship with her father impact her relationships with men?” So many women, including me, have dealt with “Daddy Issues”. In fact, I just saw a very moving episode of Oprah’s Life Class dedicated to Daddlyless Daughters. I can imagine this question would evoke a lot of emotion from a group of women.
About Your Writing Process:
14. What is your writing process like?
I am very linear in my thinking so I can’t write scenes unless I have worked on everything leading up to that scene. This means I often scan through the book from the beginning and then keep adding on. I almost always pre-think a scene before I write it. When I am driving, doing dishes, taking a shower or going on a walk, I process scenes in my mind. Then, when I sit down to write, I get them down on paper. My writing sessions go more smoothly when I have had time to dream the scene up first in my head.
15. What gets you in the mood to write?
Reading. Whenever I am “stuck” with my own writing, reading other books always gets me out of the rut. It’s not that I steal ideas or words from other writers, but I am inspired by them. I notice nuances or different approaches. I appreciate story structure. Good writing always encourages me to go back and tackle that difficult scene or plot point with which I’ve been struggling.
16. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read as many books in the genre you also write. Be patient but persevere. And most importantly, follow your gut.