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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Interview with Christopher Meades, Author of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky + Giveaway (US/Can)

I'd like to welcome Christopher Meades to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky from Park Row Books, a Harlequin imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Christopher! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Christopher Meades is the author of three previous novels, including The Last Hiccup, which won the 2013 Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction. In addition, Meades’s work has appeared in several literary journals including The Potomac Review and The Fiddlehead.

He lives in British Columbia, Canada, with his family.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves yesterday:

A magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl's struggle for liberation

Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.

But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. And when her mother reveals a secret—one that could grant her the freedom she's known only in her dreams—Hanna is forced to decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she's ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?

With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.

Were the characters in this book based on anything in your life?

I laced my previous books with people I knew growing up, embarrassing incidents (that changed only the names) and random events from my own life. For this novel, I created the world of Clearhaven out of thin air, so to speak. Creating characters solely from my imagination was a daunting challenge, but one I took seriously because this book means so much to me. I have two young daughters and one day, the oldest one picked up one of my earlier novels and started reading it. I almost had a heart attack (it’s not appropriate for children) and stopped her after one page. I hid the book and eventually we had a good laugh about it. But that moment inspired me to create a young female protagonist who finds her own path, who never gives up in spite of the obstacles in front of her. In Hanna, I created the kind of character I hope my children one day aspire to be: brave, honest, and above all—empathetic.

Would you share the first sentence and give us a bit of commentary?  

The wolves were lurking.
Hanna is in peril right from the start of the novel, surrounded by wolves as she and her disabled sister struggle to make their way through the woods. I sought to establish a sense of jeopardy and vulnerability right away, to show the dangers Hanna faces, what she must overcome to grow into herself throughout the novel, which starts as a story of survival and turns into one of potential.

Can you give us a behind-the-scenes peek at a crucial moment in the book’s history?

The first draft of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky had an ambiguous ending, leaving the reader hanging, which really isn’t fair to the reader (I personally hate it when a book leaves its story unresolved). Later, I placed a frame story around Hanna’s main tale and kept it there for over a year. When my editor told me that the frame story just didn’t work for the book, I spent months agonizing over how to change it. Two days before my edits were due, I had an epiphany and quickly wrote a new chapter, which (without revealing any spoilers) I believe gives hope and promise to the novel.

What did you learn as a result of writing this book?
  • Your editor is (almost) always right. If she says something’s off, askew or downright wrong about the novel... believe her!
  • Readers relate best to characters who care about the people around them
  • Sometimes the paragraph that you like the best—the one with the MFA-style wording and fancy turns of phrase—is the one getting in the way of your story
  • The best way to get any work done is to turn off all social media
  • To paraphrase Paul Valery, “A novel’s never finished, only abandoned.” You can keep fine-tuning a novel for thirty years if you feel like it. At a certain point, you have to say, “It’s done,” and send it out into the world.

Where can you be found on the web?

It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Christopher! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Hanna Who Fell from the Sky—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell  me in the comments below:
What is the farthest you've traveled from home?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Christopher and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at TLC Book Tours and Harlequin!
Giveaway ends October 11th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!