Interview with Rachel Hawkins
by Michele Lee
Rachel Hawkins is the author of the young adult paranormal title Hex Hall from Hyperion. Rachel talks to Michele Lee about the release of her new book.
ML: Can you start out by telling us a little about Hex Hall?
RH: Hex Hall is the story of Sophie Mercer, a 16 year old witch who gets
sent to Hecate Hall, a reform school for all sorts of magical creatures.
Shenanigans, some near-murders, and kissing all ensue.
RH: Well, one of the ways I describe the book is, "What if you got sent to Hogwarts, only it TOTALLY SUCKED?" :) In my mind, Sophie and all the kids live in a world where the Harry Potter books exist (Sophie even cracks a Hagrid joke), so I think having the character aware of how different their situation is from the Awesome-Sauce that is Hogwarts helps!
ML: What do you think are some of the challenges for writing for a young
RH: Teens are the smartest readers ever, so you really have to bring your A Game! They can spot the tiniest plot hole, and they won't let you get away with anything that feel inauthentic. So making sure my characters sound like real kids is definitely a challenge!
ML: Do you feel
that being a teacher helped you write Hex Hall and connect better with a
RH: Without a doubt! I taught 12th grade British Lit, so I was trying to
take things like Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales and make them more
accessible to teens. That really helped me nail my "teen voice." Also,
my kids were always bringing in books that they were reading and letting
me borrow them, so I felt like I had a could handle on the kinds of
things teens liked to read.
RH: At the time I was writing it, I didn't think it was all that bold. Jenna was a lesbian the same way she was a blonde; it was just part of her character make up. But I taught several gay teenagers, and I liked the idea of readers of all sexualities having couples to root for and identify with! And I definitely think teens can be more accepting. At least I hope so!
RH: My process is always a little weird, and it's ESPECIALLY weird for
Hex Hall. I basically wrote a draft and a half on my first run through.
I'd written about 150 pages, and there were some elements that weren't
working (No Jenna! Or Archer! QUELLE HORRUER!). So I heavily edited
those first 150 pages, then finished the rest of the book from that
RH: I really think the world needs
Hex Hall flip-flops. :) But
seriously, I ADORE the Hex Hall t-shirts! They're so cute and fun!
RH: Soooo many. Eudora Welty, who just captures the South- with all its
flaws- so beautifully. Diana Gabaldon who writes these big, freaking
books that just fly by. John Green for so perfectly hitting what it
feels like to be a teenager.
RH: Again, so many! A quick list would include anything by Libba Bray
(ditto Cassandra Clare) Elizabeth Marie Pope's THE PERILOUS GARD,
Lindsey Leaviit's PRINCESS FOR HIRE (so fun, you could die!), all of
Lois Duncan's books, every word Roald Dahl ever wrote... oh, we could be
here all night!
ML: Finally, can you tell us a little about what's coming next for Jenna
and Sophie and the Hex Hall crew, and what's next for you?
RH: For Sophie, et al, Book 2 sees them dealing with the fall out from
Book 1, AND going on a Crazy Summer Vacation. For me, I'll be starting
Book 3 here pretty soon, as well as a few other Super Seeeekrit
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