Thursday, August 13, 2020

Q&A with Hannah Mary McKinnon

Hannah Mary McKinnon is the author of the new novel Sister Dear. Her other books include Her Secret Son and The Neighbors. She lives in Oakville, Ontario.

Q: What does Sister Dear say about definitions of family?

A: Family can be defined in many ways, and it’s something I explore in most of my novels.

Specifically in Sister Dear, Eleanor yearns for a traditional, loving family unit, something she’s never had but always dreamed of. However, the reader soon learns the proverbial blood isn’t always thicker than water, and sometimes one might be better off walking away from people, regardless if they’re related or not.

Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you change things along the way?

A: I plotted Sister Dear far more than my previous novels, and that’s might be why the conclusion didn’t change much from my original plan.

Both the beginning and ending were very, very clear to me right from the start, even before I’d written a single word of the outline. I knew exactly where Eleanor would be at the end, had even played out the final scene in my mind…I just needed to figure out what got here there, which was tremendous fun.

Q: One theme in the novel involves Eleanor's issues with body image. Why did you decide to include that in the book?

A: It came from a very personal place. I’ve had body issues similar to Eleanor’s for as long as I can remember, and it’s something I’ve tried and mostly failed to deal with for years.

Writing about these problems through Eleanor’s eyes was difficult, yet enlightening and liberating, too. It also fit exceedingly well with her character overall, and it meant I understood her psyche a lot better. Spending your entire life believing you’re ugly takes its toll in many different ways.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Next year’s book is in the copy-editing stage. It’s another psychological thriller, this time about a man who wakes up on a beach, not knowing who he is, or how he got there.

When he makes it back to his hometown in Maine, he discovers he’d abandoned everyone and everything two years prior. Some of the locals suspect him of murder, so he’s also faced with the daunting challenge of figuring out the truth about who he is, what he did, and to whom. I’m very excited to introduce you to another cast of messed up characters!

In the meantime I’m working on Book 6 for publication in 2022, but it’s a little early to give anything away.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Thankfully, Sister Dear was most definitely not inspired by any of my family members, including my sister, Joely, who is lovely! She used to read me funny bedtime stories and put on different voices. I swear she’s one of the reasons why I love audiobooks so much.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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