Hannah Kate

poet, short story writer and editor based in Manchester

The Next Big Thing

So… I have a new blog… ta da! (This a blog about my creative writing; if you’re looking for stuff about my academic work, it’s on the She-Wolf blog.) Of course, as soon as it was up-and-running, I couldn’t think of a single thing to blog about. But with perfect timing, the wonderful Rosie Garland tagged me on The Next Big Thing blog hop, so I get to spend my first post on the new site talking about my first novel, Yonec.

I’ll then tag five more writers who will post their responses next Wednesday.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Yonec is a contemporary retelling of a twelfth-century poem by Marie de France. Marie’s poem tells the story of a young woman who is given in marriage to a jealous and greedy old man. He becomes so obsessed that she will be unfaithful that he locks her in a stone chamber and forbids her to see anyone. The young woman is so distraught that she prays for someone to rescue her; in answer to prayers, a hawk flies into her prison and transforms into a handsome knight. Marie’s poem is one of my favourite pieces of medieval poetry, and I wrote about it in my PhD thesis (and have written an article on it since). At the same time, it is also a story of domestic abuse (something I have some experience of, unfortunately), and so the idea of retelling it as a contemporary¬†urban fantasy novel just seemed to make sense.

What genre does your book fall under?

The book is YA, as I find that genre more enjoyable to read (and write), and it made sense to keep Marie’s heroine as a young woman. It’s a dark urban fantasy, and it has a couple of good-looking, mysterious young men. But I’m reluctant to say it’s a paranormal romance, as I think it’s more a quest for the heroine.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

That’s a really hard question, because the characters have their own faces in my mind. I can’t imagine them with other faces! So I guess I’d say someone unknown, someone who’s not associated with another role.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Amy knows that something is wrong with her world, that something is wrong with her: will the mysterious (and sexy) new student at her college help her work things out or are things are about to get worse? (I cheated and used a colon and a run-on sentence. Sorry.)

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m hoping to find representation for the novel, or to go with a smaller press that considers unagented manuscripts. I’m just about to start another round of submissions. I have considered self-publishing, but the time and energy I would need to promote and sell the book is beyond me. I run a small press, and spend a large part of my time working on the business of publishing and selling other people’s work. I’m only one woman!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took almost exactly a year. I wrote it during the final year of my PhD, which was an interesting contrast to my academic writing.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My first inspiration was Marie de France, of course. But I hadn’t really considered writing YA until I read Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and Holly Black’s YA fairy novels. When I put these together with my desire to write a novel that touched on the experience of domestic abuse, the idea for the novel was pretty much there.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

That depends on what your interests are! The sexy fairy love interest takes his top off a lot. There are pyromaniac banshees and fascist kelpies. There’s some decapitation. There are a couple of¬†geeky in-jokes for medievalists. Take your pick.

My writers for next Wednesday are:

Toby Stone
J.K. Coi
Stephen Morris


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