Fiction Fest: Getting to know Hannah Clark, author of ‘Uncovering Cobbogoth’

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‘Uncovering Cobbogoth’ author Hannah L. Clark.

You read several excerpts from her book right here last month, but now it’s time to get to know a little about the author behind “Uncovering Cobbogoth,” which was released on May 13.

Hannah Clark recently took the time to field questions in the Fiction Fest hot seat. Let’s dive right into that interview, shall we?

When did you know your writing was good enough to be published?

I don’t know if an author ever knows when they’re good enough to be published, they just know when they’re done. When I self-published Cobbogoth back in 2011, it was my way of saying, “Okay, I’ve given you everything I’ve got, and now we just have to see if it’s enough.” I knew I wanted it to be better, but at the time, I just didn’t know how to make it better. I’d been working on this baby for six years already, so putting it on the shelf really wasn’t an option for me; I needed to be done with it.

When I submitted to Cedar Fort two years later, however, I had no intention of revising, but once we got accepted, I couldn’t pass up the chance to change the things that had always bugged me about it. That’s when I was surprised to find how much I’d learned since self-publishing. Because of those revisions, I think Uncovering Cobbogoth–while not perfect–is finally the story I always wanted to tell.  That’s both thanks to experience and the fantastic editors at Cedar Fort!

What motivates you most to write?

It makes me happy. Truly. Writing is one of the hardest, most grueling kinds of work I’ve ever done, but it’s also like an anti-depressant for me. I’m not my best self if I don’t do at least a little writing every day. I think, aside from being an emotional release for me, it’s also because I’ve been writing a little every day since I was 10 years old. It’s just kind of a habit for me.

What’s the most joy writing has brought to you?

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‘Uncovering Cobbogoth’ illustrator Rebekah Shakespear. Also Hannah Clark’s sister.

As I said above, writing in and of itself is very joyful for me, but I think 1) being able to work with my sister Bekah (the illustrator) and seeing how it has brought other members of my family joy, and brought us closer together–because of  the positive energy in something like this–has been incredibly rewarding. 2) having my little boy come into my office at night, climb onto my lap, and point to my Cobbogoth map on my wall while asking me to tell him the next part of the story is probably the best experience EVER. And 3) I also kind of love seeing my husband get excited about the story, and then watching him enthusiastically act out suggestions for a certain scene in the book. It’s pretty much adorable.

What’s your writing routine like?

Well, it changes with my family’s schedule. They are my first priority, so during school, I write from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. every day while my boy is in school. During the summer time, I just write whenever I can get a chance. And during holiday time, I try not to write at all.

If you could have a literary do-over, what would it be?

You know, every mistake and failure I’ve had during this process, I’ve learned SO much from, so I don’t regret anything. But if I could, I would go back and not ask a former friend to edit my manuscript. For reasons I have yet to understand fully, that cost me her friendship, and it kind of broke my heart for a while. But even still, I learned some incredibly valuable lessons from that as well.

Who would play the main characters in “Cobbogoth: The Movie”?

I really like Anna Sophia Robb. She’s lovely, and she played a really smart alien in “Race to Witch Mountain,” so I think she’d do Norah’s peculiarity really well.

What role, if any, does music play in your writing process?

Music plays a huge role in my writing process. I don’t listen to music when I’m writing–I can’t concentrate that way–but I do listen to it a lot all of the rest of the time. I also sing and play the guitar, so when I’m stumped on a story issue, I’ll just step away from the computer and go fiddle around on my guitar for a while until I figure it out. Making music relaxes and rejuvenates me.

What song has the most plays on your iPod?

Good question. I think it might be “King and the Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men. But I don’t know if any single song has the most plays; I can definitely tell you which album has the most plays, though. Mumford and Sons’ album “Babel.”  I love folksy music with literary references.

Uncovering Cobbogoth 2x3 WEBSince we’re on the topic of music, who would score the Cobbogoth motion picture?

Oooo…that’s tough. I think it would probably have be Radiohead for all of the Boston scenes–my husband is from Boston and listened to them all of the time when I first met him back there, so they just remind me of Boston–and Of Monsters and Men for all of the Iceland and fantasy scenes. They are Icelandic and have this seriously cool fantasy sound that I listened to a lot while revising “Uncovering Cobbogoth.”

In the spirit of social media, which is a priceless tool in today’s book biz, what 140-character or less piece of advice would you offer to aspiring novelists? 

No matter what challenges stand in your way, if becoming an author is your dream, learn to work really hard, and then never, EVER give up.

(Ed. Note: The last answer came in at 138 characters.)