I discovered Hannah’s YA novel – Journey to the Hopewell Star - when I read the review on The Miramichi Reader, see it HERE. The review was followed up by an interview two months later and you can read that HERE.
I was impressed by what I read and since then I follow Hannah on FB. I believe this is an author to watch for. Her novel has garnered many 4 and 5 stars reviews and the buzz is, it’s quite good.
We are more than pleased she has agreed to an interview here on the Scribbler and is sharing an excerpt from her novel.
Hannah D. State is an award-winning Canadian author and science fiction/fantasy writer. She resides in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and loves the friendly community, quietude, and beautiful nature of Atlantic Canada. She graduated from McGill University with a BA and earned her MPL from Queen’s University. Hannah is bothered by inequality, violence, greed, complacency, snakes, entering a dark room, and not getting enough sleep. She enjoys writing about strong-willed characters who don’t fit the norm and who overcome great obstacles with perseverance, self-discovery, and help from others. Sometimes Hannah can’t keep up with her characters’ ideas and plans, so she takes breaks, drinks coffee, does sudoku and other puzzles, practices yoga, and takes nature walks to calm her mind and really listen. Journey to the Hopewell Star is her first novel.
4Q: Your intro on your Facebook labels your writing as Science Fiction/ Fantasy. What draws you to this genre?
HS: What I love about the science fiction/fantasy genre is that it allows you to explore creative, imaginative worlds full of diversity and possibilities, which really gives you a lot of freedom to navigate the unknown and to question things. I tend to have an overactive imagination, extending situations into a realm of possibility, and then I try to think of solutions to make things better. Even though I’m writing fiction, I find that many current issues can impact us in different ways. When I’m bothered by something, it sticks with me. I try to consider the ways it may affect society in the future and how it might affect characters if they were thrust into a similar situation. Reading about world issues drives me to further consider alternatives, and I’m also a bit of an idealist, so science fiction/fantasy is the perfect realm and creative outlet for me.
4Q: When our readers pick up a copy of Journey to the Hopewell Star, what can they expect? And how did you come about naming the star, Hopewell?
HS: The story is about twelve-year-old Sam Sanderson, who lives a peaceful, quiet life on her grandfather’s farm while her parents are on a secret otherworldly mission. One night, Sam meets a mysterious visitor from another world who is the catalyst that thrusts her on a perilous journey. Her mission is to find the elusive Hopewell Star to save a dying planet. It’s a multifaceted tale and explores some complex scientific and technological concepts but breaks them down in a way that’s easy to understand. But it’s not just about the scientific aspects—I wanted to create a story that would consider other important themes, such as interdependency with our environment, our interconnectedness with others, overcoming obstacles, and believing in yourself.
When my husband and I first moved to the East Coast, we visited the Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, and I was inspired by the beauty of the landscape. Without giving too much away, the name stuck with me, and I was curious about building a mythology or legend around the name Hopewell, the merging of “hope” and “well”, and what it would entail on a larger, universal scale. I started asking myself questions, such as, what if another, more advanced civilization had been monitoring Earth, and they were dismayed with how we’d treated our planet and each other, and had decided to create a special star that had the ability to shine in such a way so as to reduce the hatred and suffering that humans had created and experienced? What if it represented a pact between those two worlds to do better? What if the star were fuelled by the good deeds, hope, and well-being that humans inspired in others? Then I asked the question, what if someone or a group of people wanted to harness that power for something more sinister in nature so that the source of that star’s power was threatened? What would that look like? And that’s how the story developed.
4Q: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.
HS: Some of my favourite childhood memories are of acting and performing in some plays on stage and in the small space of our living room for family and friends. I attended Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts in London, Ontario, and was in the Grand Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol. But one of my earlier memories was of performing in a play that my mother, Barbara Novak, had written while I attended Ryerson Public School.
Her play, entitled Sybil in the Middle, was a comedy about a middle child who felt that her parents didn’t understand her. A genie grants her a wish, but it backfires, and she ends up growing a pig’s nose. I played the role of the younger child, and I remember how proud I was of my mom. She had written this play that had the power to excite, endear, and uplift the audience of children and their parents. I still remember the laughter that filled that auditorium. It was a magical moment, and my mother was a huge inspiration for my love of the arts and writing.
4Q: The illustration on the cover of Journey to the Hopewell Star is quite attractive. Who designed it and what was your input?
HS: Thank you. Irfan Budi is an exceptionally talented illustrator from Indonesia. We worked together entirely online. I provided him with a concept, a description of the main character, and some colour elements. He first prepared a rough sketch, and then I provided my suggestions, and he worked with my idea and delivered a truly amazing result.
4Q: Which part of the novel was the most difficult to write?
HS: Some of the scenes with the main antagonist, Titus, were difficult to write. He’s a tyrannical business mogul; arrogant, manipulative, greedy, and dangerous. Getting into his mind caused my heart to race and my blood to boil sometimes. But at the same time, some of his scenes were particularly fun to write, especially the scene where he gets into a heated argument with his replicated robotic wife that he had created.
4Q: Plotter or pantser?
HS: That’s a great question! I’m somewhat of a plotter as I tend to first plan and map out the story in my mind in terms of the scenes and elements I want to include and where I want the story to go. However, I leave the structure somewhat fluid and open when writing, in case I want to take it in a different direction, and so I’m a bit of a pantser in that sense. If I plot too much in terms of outlining each chapter and creating a rigid structure, then it becomes difficult to change later on. Perhaps I’m a hybrid—a “plantser”.
4Q: What’s next for Hannah State, the author?
HS: I’m working on a sequel to Journey to the Hopewell Star and also hoping to launch my website in 2021. This will be a year of continued learning opportunities and exploring new adventures!
4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
HS: I’m excited to share the recent release of the official book trailer. Towers Filmworks did an excellent job in putting it together. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAeDYzp2ENM
Also, I just wanted to say many thanks, Allan, for this opportunity to discuss my book and writing process with the South Branch Scribbler.
***You are more than welcome, Hannah. Pleasure having you here.
An Excerpt from Journey to the Hopewell Star.
(Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.)
Soon they arrived at the mouth of one of the caves. Boj stopped, staring up at the gaping entrance. Sam focused her gaze upon a series of markings; strange symbols like hieroglyphics were engraved into the rock along the edge of the cave opening. She peered inside, the darkness foreboding. How would she navigate this?
“Remember what I told you,” Boj said.
“You mean—you’re not coming with me?”
“I can’t. I’m sorry. Once you leave the cave, I’ll meet with him separately. Now, remember what I said about addressing him. Once you are inside, listen to his voice and he will guide you through the cave. Do not worry, Sam. I’ll be waiting here for you. Now, go. There is no time to waste.”
Sam took a step inside, unnerved and a bit shaky. Nevertheless, she had come this far. What were a few more steps to go?
Inside, darkness enveloped her. All she heard was her loud breathing, her footsteps echoing on the stone floor.
Thank you, Hannah, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your writing.
Thank you, Allan. Wishing all the best to you, too!
For all you awesome visitors wishing to discover more about Hannah and her writing, please follow these links:
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/hannahdstate/
Author Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20560327.Hannah_D_State
Official Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAeDYzp2ENM