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.
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.
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?
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?
8) What characteristic about yourself would you most like to change?
9) What always make you happy?
Our children’s laughter.
10) What always angers you?
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.