25 Questions With Author Sarah Hina

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Sarah Hina • Plum Blossoms in Paris

I knew that Sarah Hina and I could be great friends on the day she called me a cocksucker.

But I need to back up. I met Sarah online; I know a few members of an online writing circle, and when I decided to finish my young adult novel I decided to connect with a few more.

Sarah was at the top of that list, and I liked her immediately. I discovered that we’re both members of select group — medical school students who leave the program — and its even-rarer sibling — medical school students who leave the program to write.

As we were getting to know each other, we had a brief chat that revealed she shares my love for Deadwood, the foul-mouthed HBO series set in 1870s South Dakota. I thought about calling Sarah something outrageous, quoting barkeeper Al Swearengen in the process, but she beat me to the punch (see above).

I knew then that Sarah was talented, and fun, quick and down-to-earth.

Here’s what you need to know. Sarah is a kind and generous person, and she’s a gifted writer and storyteller. I once told her that there was a quietness to her prose that I found thrilling, and that’s why I can’t wait to read Plum Blossoms in Paris. I know that I will find a cadence in her prose that will delight me. I just know.

Sarah Hina writes like an angel. Here are her answers to 25 Questions.

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25 Questions with Author Sarah Hina

1) What was your favorite book as a child? What is your favorite children’s book?

My favorite book was Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery, the same author who wrote the Anne of Green Gables series. There was a darker, more mystical current to the Emily books that appealed to me. She knew The Wind Woman. I wanted to.

As a parent, my favorite books to read to the kids are Shel Silverstein’s. The Giving Tree packs a lump in my throat every time.

2) What is your most marked characteristic? Does it help or hinder you?

Introversion. It siphons the words and emotion into my writing, which has been a wonderful, soul-saving outlet. But it’s also responsible for the three-year dating drought I survived in my early twenties. Thank goodness my husband, Paul, stepped in to save me from a spinsterish fate.

3) Which quality do you most like in a man?

A quiet confidence, backed by beliefs and substance.

4) Which quality do you most like in a woman?

Empathy.

5) What is your favorite memory?

Lying in my Grandma’s four poster bed on lazy summer mornings, pressed on all sides by my mom, grandma, sister, and brother.

6) Describe the best meal you’ve ever had.

So here’s the awful truth: I’m a total rube about good food. It was the hardest part of my book to fake. And I kind of got around that by making Daisy a total rube about good food, too.

So I’ll go with this: nothing ever tasted better to me than the graham crackers I devoured a half hour after giving birth to our daughter. Starved throughout the day, freebasing endorphins after her birth, and overcome by this tiny new being in my arms, those things were heaven.

7) What’s the best book you’ve read in the last two years? The best movie you’ve seen?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy. And Bright Star, the film about John Keats and Fanny Brawne.

8) What characteristic about yourself would you most like to change?

Uncertainty.

(Wait. Maybe.)

9) What always make you happy?

Our children’s laughter.

10) What always angers you?

Entitlement.

And Ann Coulter’s face.

11) At this moment, where would you most like to be?

By an ocean.

12) Tell me about a boneheaded mistake you made in writing Plum Blossoms in Paris.

I made no mistakes. It is the perfect novel. It’s also available from many online retailers and bookstores, even as you read this perfectly serious assertion.

13) What has blogging brought to your life?

It’s uncluttered my prose, encouraged experimentation, turned me on to poetry, made the world a smaller and friendlier place, and introduced me to some fine writing. But truly? All of that pales in comparison to the friendships and connections I have made, and the people I’ve come to love.

14) Who is your favorite fictional heroine and why? And fictional hero?

I think the books we read in childhood imprint us more than any others. So my favorite fictional heroine remains Emily Starr. And my favorite hero is Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre. Not that keeping your insane wife trapped in an attic is exactly heroic, but he was Byronic, so that made it sort of okay.

15) Who are your three favorite composers?

Bach, Beethoven, and Chopin.

16) Who is your favorite painter?

Probably Matisse. I plucked the title and inspiration for my book from his Plum Blossoms painting. But I also adore Wyeth, Picasso, Monet, Cezanne . . . oh, hell—all of ‘em.

17) Which talent would you most like to have?

I would love to be able to play the piano or cello competently. More than anything in the world. Musicians have their hands in the marrow of emotion, while we writers must chisel our way in.

18) How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who gave as much as she was given. And I hope I don’t die tomorrow, because I have a long way to go.

19) What has been the most exciting part of being published?

Opening the email from my agent, telling me of Medallion’s offer. After 17 months of submissions to publishing houses, I had given up hope. The shock of it elated me. I was giddy and tearful and very nearly broke out into song.

20) What is your greatest regret?

That I lived for so long governed by a fear of disappointing others.

21) Aside from your family and your book, of what accomplishment are you most proud?

I once ran a 5:41 mile. And now I have the chronic knee pain to remember it by.

22) What is in heavy rotation on your iPod?

Nick Drake. He’s a genius. But he’s so subtle about it, you almost don’t notice.

23) When was the last time you wept?

A couple of days ago. My husband and I are re-watching old episodes of thirtysomething. I know and love those characters so well that their hurts are my hurts. Plus, we’re on the season where Nancy has cancer. So.

24) What is your guilty pleasure?

I have been known to watch Project Runway. If only to hear Heidi Klum’s robotic catchphrases.

25) In what way do you hope your life will change now that you’re a published author?

I don’t want it to change in any substantive way. Not really. I’m immensely lucky to be able to do what I love, and to have the support that I do. I’ve come to the realization, through all of this, that joy is rooted in the reach, and not the attainment.

Plus, I’m way too introverted to sit on Oprah’s couch.

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Other stops on Sarah’s Meet Me In Paris* Blog Tour: Travis Erwin • Aniket’s Plum Blossom Flash Fiction contest

Buy Plum Blossoms in ParisAmazonBarnes & NobleChaptersBordersYour Local Independent BookstorePowell’s BooksBooks-A-Million

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15 Responses to 25 Questions With Author Sarah Hina

  1. I know that I will find a cadence in her prose that will delight me. I just know.

    You will. I promise. Splendid interview, both of you.

  2. Aniket says:

    Now that is one first line that guarantees to keep the reader interested. Not that I needed any convincing, you both are awesome. It was a fun, sweet and touching interview. Those right there are 25 reasons why we love you so much. :)

  3. Richard says:

    Thanks for visiting Aniket. I’ve just added the link to your flash fiction contest. My bad!

    Sarah… Someday, I’ll tell you the story about how visiting Green Gables landed me and my friends in a book about the Trans-Canada highway by a Princeton professor. Interestingly, the author described me as “not really a literary chap.”

  4. 5:41 mile is awesome. My best time was 6:07 with little training other than being young. When I was done with that I felt as if I were going to die.

    The Giving Tree is a fave of mine, but I think you already know that. Great answers :)

  5. Great answers. Yes to “the Road” great book. I have Plum Blossoms, though I haven’t started it yet. But I bet it will also be great judging from the quality of the prose I’ve seen on her blog.

  6. Colleen says:

    Another great interview. Thanks to you both.

  7. Travis Erwin says:

    Damn, do I miss Deadwood. Hate to be left hanging.

    Great questions and answers.

  8. Sarah Hina says:

    Thanks to all of you for checking this out, and to Richard, for serving up such a great batch of questions. I really enjoyed thinking them through and had a lot of fun with my answers!

  9. Karen says:

    Thanks for hosting the interview, Richard, and to you, Sarah, for revealing and opening a little more of yourself. Those of us who know you through our blog friendships already love your writing and look forward to reading your book!

  10. Aerin says:

    The Road??? Emily over ANNE? thirtysomething???

    You just plummeted on my make-out list, Sarah. Jeepers. And you look like such a sensible person, too….

    (As one of the only people on the planet who has FINISHED Plum Blossoms, however, I can say – brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. Don’t let the maternal unit tell you otherwise.)

  11. joaquin says:

    awesome. i sort of remeber thirtysomething, mostly as that show with that guy who played the dj on that other show about that chick with the plane in alaska.

    wait – it is the perfect novel, right? because that’s what i’m expecting.

  12. Sarah Hina says:

    Karen, thank you so much! Having friends like you embrace me, and the book, during all of this has gone a long way toward settling my nerves.

    Aerin, I stand by all of ‘em. thirtysomething is a brilliant, character-driven show that got smacked with the “Yuppie navel-gazing” label back when it was on. Melissa, especially, you’d love, I think (’cause I do, too).

    And thank you. I’m still in awe of how quickly you read it!

    Joaquin, are you talking about Northern Exposure? Man, that was a great show, too.

    And shut up on the other score. Before I start breaking out into hives.

  13. Great interview! I visited my parents last weekend and nearly had a fit when I learned that they got rid of an entire bookshelf of books from my childhood. One of the most notable losses was Emily of New Moon. Just seeing you mention the book sent me into another rage… ;-)

  14. Sarah Hina says:

    It would have made me irate, too, Melissa! I don’t see Emily on bookstore shelves nearly as much as the Anne series (which I also loved). I’ve never understood why.

    Thanks for the wonderful comment. I hope you can find some forgiveness in your heart for them…somehow. ;)

  15. Great questions and superb answers. I’m looking forward to reading this book about Paris, a city I’ve never quite forgotten.

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