Hannah: I really enjoy writing the trajectory of a character who finds their strength and/or sense of self over the course of a story. You are absolutely NOT supposed to like Chelsea at the start, but hopefully as the story progresses, you understand her more and see the changes she is going through in becoming who she is. I’m more interested in internal conflict than external, so I’m less inclined to write stories where the characters start off as fully evolved or enlightened or perfect. I think too the truth is that characters like Chelsea really do exist in real life, andeven as a contrast characters like Kristen—some of us grow through experiences at that age, for some people it takes longer. I find flawed characters who struggles not just with their circumstances but with themselves to be more interesting to write!
What was your favorite part of writing Speechless?
Hannah: I have to say probably writing the scenes at Rosie’s and fleshing out that cast of characters was my favorite. There are parts of the book where Chelsea is really isolated, and so throwing her into the group with all of the different dynamics was the most fun for me. Plus, I think everyone would love to meet an eccentric bunch of people like the ones who work at the diner!
Discrimination, equality and GBLT rights play a huge part in Speechless, but never in a heavy-handed or preachy way. The issues are handled with real sensitivity and insight--was it tough to write about?
Hannah: It was tough because it was very important to me to do justice to those issues. One thing that was important to me was that even though this is Chelsea’s story, that the victims of what happens—Noah most especially, and Andy, too—were not just used as props in her redemption, that their suffering was prioritized, and for them to have their own agency and feelings about what happened. I know some people wanted to know more about Warren and Joey’s side of things, but to me, Warren and Joey weren’t important besides being a catalyst, and yes there needs to be justice on their end for what they did, but within the confines of the story (since it doesn’t take place over too long a period of time), I didn’t want them to get the focus.
I do hope that when I write about these issues that it doesn’t come off as hammering anyone over the head. I try to include them because they naturally fit into the story, and because they are honestly relevant to what teens experience, but I’m not setting off to make a grand moral statement.
I have to know: there's a small scene in Speechless with a boy named Jake and his girlfriend. Are they Jake and Harper?
Hannah: Yes! People who have read Saving June will notice early on in Speechless that both stories are rooted in the same fictional town, Grand Lake. I couldn’t help but throw in a short cameo so you can see that Jake and Harper are still going strong! It was very fun to write.
Can you tell us anything about what you're working on now/next?
Hannah: I am working on a third book, but it’s too early to be able to describe the premise properly! Mostly right now I am getting through the release of SPEECHLESS and all the excitement that comes with it. :)
A BIG thanks to Hannah for her time today. If you love her, why not use the links above and let her know? You can find Hannah on:
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