Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Hannah Mary McKinnon

Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing. She now lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.

Her new novel is Sister Dear.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Sister Dear does a great job of giving the reader a sense that something ominous is looming. If you flipped the words to Dear Sister, one might think it’s a memoir or a love-letter of sorts to a sibling. However, Sister Dear gives it a slightly creepy undercurrent, the indication that all isn’t quite right, which is exactly the case in Eleanor’s life right from Chapter 1.

What's in a name?

I chose Eleanor as my protagonist’s name because I liked the sound of it. It’s elegant, but perhaps unassumingly so, which fits fictional Eleanor exceedingly well. It really was that simple.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage reader self wouldn’t be surprised by Sister Dear. I loved reading thrillers and crime fiction when I was younger, too, so my writing psychological suspense isn’t much of a stretch in that sense. However, my teenage self might be surprised I chose to pit fictional siblings against one another. After all, my sister and I get along very well.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

The beginning is typically harder for me because it means starting with a blank document. When I get to the ending, I have the rest of the story – the characters, their motivations, the build-up – behind me. I’ve often swapped out the first chapter for another or changed it completely. For my first novel I kept trying to write Chapter 1 and failed so many times, I inserted a page break and jumped into Chapter 2, and the words flowed because there seemed to be far less pressure. I didn’t write Chapter 1 until I’d finished the first draft of the novel, and even then it changed again.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

There may be a few things here and there, little details I sprinkle in, but I’m writing fiction, not an autobiography. As an author it’s my job to make things up, to create these characters that seem and feel real to the reader. Frankly, I think if I based the characters on myself the books would end up rather boring, not to mention sounding the same!

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

I love watching movies – especially at the cinema where the trailers are my favourite part. I think film in general has had a huge impact on me. I often describe on the page what I see in my head, as if I were watching my novel unfold on screen. Visualising things helps immensely with conveying descriptions and emotions via my characters to my readers.
Visit Hannah Mary McKinnon's website.

--Marshal Zeringue