Today I am VERY happy to welcome Mindy Mejia to the blog talking about her brilliant novel The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman.
Tell us a little about what started Hattie’s story in your head – was it her as a character that began the journey or was it a hint of an idea?
I grew up in a small town surrounded by a lot of farmland. There was one decrepit barn that stood at the edge of a pond. Every year the barn seemed to sink a little further into the water and that was the initial image I had for this story, of Hattie’s body in that barn.
In the novel she is very divisive, on one hand very innocent but on the other can be manipulative – if you had to describe her personality in one short paragraph what would you say?
Hattie is a natural actress, a people pleaser, but she doesn’t inhabit her roles altruistically. She does it because she’s persuasive enough to get away with it, which feeds into a bit of her natural teenage narcissism. The truth is that she’s sometimes a victim of her own manipulations. She believes what she’s selling, and that’s makes her very compelling.
The events that unfold in the novel are very emotive and have some intriguing themes running through them – not least the differing relationships Hattie has with those around her. How much do you think that our interactions with those close to us change our perceptions, and how much do you think is just ingrained in ourselves. OOH look that was quite a deep question don’t worry the next one will be easier…
Okay, (big breath), let’s paddle into the deep end of the pool. One of the major themes of this book is identity, and I think it’s commonly perceived as a static thing—that our personalities and behaviors come from some fixed noun that we think of as our ‘self’—when actually we are much more like verbs. We are bundles of dynamic, changing energy and of course we change as we respond to those around us. Hattie is more changeable than most of us, but we are all affected by our relationships. As humans we have to keep growing and evolving. The idea of a static personality means your brain is done breathing. (Swimming frantically back to the shallow end.)
What do you hope that people will take away from Hattie? Ok that wasn’t THAT much easier, the next one will be I promise!
Marginally easier. High expectations for the next question now. We all look for an escape when we pick up a novel, and I think the best fiction has the power to set us back in our worlds with new eyes and a greater sense of empathy, because we’ve just walked in someone else’s shoes. For a small town, there’s a fairly big cast of characters in HATTIE and I hope readers will empathize with at least one of them. Maybe even one they didn’t expect to.
Do you read avidly yourself? If so are there one or two novels you’ve read recently that you would like to recommend? See that one was easier, yes?
Finally! Yes, I would read all day if I could. I finished GOOD AS GONE by Amy Gentry recently and that was an addictive, utterly absorbing read. Her use of the dual POV in diverging timelines is mesmerizing.
Finally, just for a bit of fun, tell us 3 things about you that are unlikely to come up generally when you are promoting the book.
1. I enjoy reading the reasoning in U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
2. I can purchase train tickets in Japanese.
3. Olives are disgusting. That’s not something about me. It’s just something everyone else needs to realize.
Thanks so much!
Thanks for having me on your blog!
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