Friday, July 27, 2012

Author Interview: Hannah M Davis

Today we have the awesome Hannah M Davis on the blog!  She's the author of the book Voice of Angels, which you can find here.

1.  Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

Yes! Ever since I was a little girl with blond pig-tails I loved reading and writing. At school, I found great pleasure in exploring the realms of my imagination in my English assignments. I think my love of exploring the boundaries in writing began then because it seemed like unlike real life, anything was possible in writing. You could literally bring people back from the dead if you wanted to ....

2. How did you come up with the idea for Voices of Angels?

I get asked this question a lot and I wish there was a more interesting answer! I sometimes want to invent something amazing like how an angel came to visit me and gave me the story. But the truth is much more mundane than that and probably how most books are written. It started with an glimpse of an idea and then I filled in all the rest. So the initial idea was this ability to foretell death - the black marks above people's heads - and I just took it from there. 

3. There's a lot of interesting elements and plot points in Voices of Angels.  Did all the ideas come easily?  What was the most difficult scene to write?

That's a great question and in truth the novel took a long time to write. It was my debut book so my first draft came easily and fast but actually wasn't that marketable. Although publishers liked it, it didn't really fit any particular genre as I'd made the classic first-time writer mistake of just writing it without really thinking who would read it. So I rewrote it from scratch as a teen novel aimed at teenage girls and this new perspective allowed in lots of different ideas and - unexpectedly - a deep emotional layer that was missing from the first draft. I found myself going back to my school days as a 15 year old girl and revisited, sometimes painfully, all the burgeoning and sometimes overwhelming feelings I had back then - those of identity, self-esteem, confidence - and it was these feelings that changed the book from being a black and white story of death (and what, if anything happens afterward) into something which would connect to readers of all ages - that of self-belief and love.

The most difficult scene to write? Probably the scene where Joopy (the dog) gets knocked over. It was loosely based on my own pet cat getting knocked over and killed when I was 15. I was absolutely heartbroken. So with these emotions in mind I wrote the scene again and again and again and didn't stop until I actually cried when I wrote it. That way I knew it packed emotional punch. A lot of readers tell me they find this scene the most painful in the book and that it often brings them to tears. Although I don't really like making people cry - I do know that I've succeeded in creating a story which touches hearts.

4.  Spain is a unique setting in the YA book world!  Did you always know that Lizzie's journey in Voices of Angels would happen there?

Yes because I spend 10 years of my life there in South Spain, Andalusia, and I love how new cultures can transform us. It certainly had a profound affect on my life. Spain is a vibrant, colourful, intense country and the heat of the summer was the perfect backdrop to Lizzie and Rafa's passionate love story.

5.  Which character was the easiest to write about?  Which was the hardest?  Why?

The easiest character to write was probably Lizzie's eccentric grandmother, Ariadne as she seemed to write herself. Rafa was quite easy to capture too. I think because both characters are deliberately intense and full of life - it's easy to capture them. The hardest character to write was actually Lizzie. It was hard to make her interesting and yet a bit passive in the beginning of the novel. But as she gradually finds her voice and grows in confidence she became easier to write. Plus it's always a bit weird writing a female character and trying to distance yourself from her. People inevitably draw comparisons!

6.  If you could pick any character to hang out with for a day, which would it be and why?

Ariadne probably. I'd love to listen to sit down in the dusty courtyard of her Andalusian house as the sun is setting and simply listen some of her stories of her world travels. She's the kind of person who will lift you regardless of what mood you are in because of her infectious enthusiasm and love of life. I think a day in her company and I'd be a lot wiser.

7.  Voices of Angels has a lot of romance in it.  Did you always intend for it to be a love story?

The love story only came when I rewrote it as a teen novel and yes I did intend it to be a love story. I'm a sucker for romance in real life and in books so I loved writing about Lizzie and Rafa! I don't think I intended it to be quite so passionate but that came with the heat of the summer and the intensity and rawness of the passion was the fitting companion to that heat!

8.  While reading the story, I was really struck by how easily I related to Lizzie, even though what she was going through was quite extraordinary.  Did you always intend for Lizzie to be so easy to relate to?

The idea was to create a central character who was actually quite ordinary - hence the reason why she was quite hard to write! I read so many teen novels where the female lead is exceptional in some way and I wanted to go against the grain. Most girls I know are struggling to fit in, to find themselves, to be accepted by their classmates - and I wanted to relate to this kind of girl, not the popular one on the block. Growing up, I doubted myself a lot and questioned my place in the world. All those existential questions of where do I fit in, where do I belong? Am I liked? Those kind of things. The funny thing with age is I don't think they ever go away and that's why the book speaks just as loudly to adults as it does teenagers. You just get better at dealing with it, that's all. 

9.  Do you have a special routine you go through before sitting down to write?

I'd love to say yes but the truth is I've just moved house and country to be with the man I love!  I write about this true life story on my blog if you're interested in romance!  It's unbelievably romantic I have to say. So I'm not in any kind of routine at the moment! I"m in nesting phase. But when I write I do some loose writing first in my journal, then a quick meditation to centre myself and then I just sit down and open the laptop.  I either try to write to a certain time limit or a word amount.  I'll write first thing to get it out the way too!

10.  There were still a lot of loose strings at the end of Voices of Angels.  Are there any plans for a book two?  If so, when is it's estimated release date?  I'm eager to find out more about Lizzie's gift!  

There are plans for a book 2 but I'm focussing on creating a companion book of short stories first to release alongside Voices of Angels. These will be told from the point of view of other characters in the book, such as Rafa, Ariadne and Bee.  Once I've done that, I'll get cracking on book 2!

You can read more of Hannah's story on her blog:

About the Author:  When I was about 7 I started to write my first ever book. I didn't get very far (in fact I think I hid it in my wardrobe!) but it did begin a life long love affair with reading and writing.
I'm now a bit older, although I'm not saying how much . . . and I wrote my second ever book, a young adult novel called Voices of Angels. Luckily I didn't give up with this one and as you can see, it's available to buy now.
Voices of Angels is a dark and sexy paranormal romance following 15 year old, Lizzie Fisher, who can see when people are about to die. What she does with the frightening ability is the premise of the story. And along the way she moves country, falls in love and discovers lots of things about herself.
A sequel is currently being written.
As for me, I live in Spain, I love traveling and I love meeting new people. I also change my hair colour constantly, love the sound of the sea and have a middle name beginning with M.
You can read my full author profile and see some exclusive behind the scenes videos about the book on my website:
Or if you prefer, you can check out my official author Facebook page - Hannah M Davis - and meet some of the gang:
Thank you for reading and do feel free to drop by my pages and say hi!

About Voices of Angels:  When Lizzie Fisher sees a black mark above her teachers head, she has no idea how much it will change her life. Seven days later the teacher is dead and Lizzie must come to terms with a frightening new ability: she sees when people are about to die. Sent to Andalucia to live with a grandmother she has never met, Lizzie falls in love with gifted musician, Rafa. All seems well until one day the black mark appears above her grandmother’s head. Horrified, Lizzie finds herself in a race against time to find out what the gift really means. Will Rafa help her? And can she save her grandmother’s life before it’s too late?

You can find Voices of Angels here and my review of it here.  

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