Today, this blog has the honour of having an interview with author Hannah Ross, writer of the Frozen World series, a fantastic environmental sci-fi novels. Recently, I contacted Hannah and asked her the following questions:
You have written over a dozen books in the fantasy, sci-fi, historical fiction genres. That is quite a range! What attracts you to write in all of these genres?
I think that, as widely as my writing ranges, what all my books have in common is the element of escapism – of moving to a different reality for a bit, be it a modern research station in Antarctica, a village in medieval Ethiopia, or an entirely imaginary fantasy world. This creation and exploration of different worlds is what I love most about writing.
In the About section in your Facebook page, it says that you wrote your first story at aged 6. What was it about?
I wish I had saved it! As I recall, it was about a rabbit. I was really proud of it, too.
This blogger: (*Smiles wryly.*) I have a feeling that I know this feeling. When I was eight, I wrote my first creative writing story in class. Like you, I was proud of it and I wish I had saved it too.
In two of my blog pieces, I discuss how to create an engaging villain or antagonist. What do you like to see most in villains and which of your villains have embodied those characteristics?
What I like is a villain one can emphasize with. One you can really get into their head and, for a moment, be able to identify so strongly with their motives that the next second it gives you chills as you think Could I do what they had done? Think Cersei Lannister rather than Lord Voldemort.
My favorite villain, I would even call her a hero-villain, is probably Jadine from the Quest of the Messenger trilogy. She has an extremely noble motivation: to save her home country from enemies. In the process, she makes countless people lose their lives, wrecks her family, and is implicated in her own brother’s murder. She does not, however, regret or believe she could have done things any differently. I suppose a good villain does not see himself or herself as a villain at all.
This blogger: This villain sounds so intriguing, I have now purchased the Quest from the Messenger trilogy and am reading it now! Thanks for the recommendation Hannah!
Of all the characters you have created, which is the one who is most like you? And why?
While I do not intentionally write autobiographic characters, I suppose the one who is most like me is Rebecca Hurst from the Wild Children dystopian novels. She loves her children fiercely and is ready to do anything for them. She will not tolerate injustice, certainly not when it touches upon her family. And she is ready to do anything in her power to denounce corruption, greed, and cruelty.
She is, however, very real, imperfect and, sometimes, weak. But she isn’t afraid to acknowledge her mistakes and do what it takes to fix them.
If you could give your younger self some advice about the writing process, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self how happy I am to see her enjoy writing and soar on the wings of imagination. I would, though, advise her to plot her novels chapter by chapter to avoid getting stuck in the middle. I would also tell her to stick to her WIPs and not hop on to the next project as soon as the current one doesn’t flow spontaneously. (*Grimaces*.)
Writing is work, after all – creative work, but still it requires a high amount of diligence. Oh, and I’d tell her to revise the heck out of her work before considering it complete.
This blogger: (*Chuckles*.) What you say is true and good. The last bit is arguably the most vital of all. It is so easy to overlook another revision because one feels that one’s work is ‘complete’ when it’s not.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
I love dialogue, world-building, and exploration of a character’s inner world. But I feel the struggle when it comes to action and battle scenes (something quite unavoidable in sci-fi, fantasy, and epic historical fiction!)
This blogger: Battles are incredibly hard to write. In the beginning, I underestimated just how tough they were as well. I have had to scrap whole chapters and weeks of work for whole host of reasons; chiefly, though, because I found the battles scenes hard to write. In short, Hannah, you are not alone in this struggle.
How has writing changed you?
I’m really not sure how to answer that because I can hardly remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing. I suppose the most important thing about writing, for me at least, is having a part of my life, a certain something, in which anything is possible and I can do literally anything I decide. When a story is brewing up, I walk around like I have this shiny secret bubble within me. No matter what else might be going on, it makes everything so much more exciting. I can be washing dishes and have a great time plotting my next novel.
This blogger: (*Smiles widely*.) That’s terrific and, in fact, a really productive way to spend the time washing the dishes.
Have your family and friends read any of your books? If so, what do they think of them and how do you feel when they talk about them with you?
Ironically, my writer self and my ‘real-life’ self have few points of contact. Most of the people who know me in real life don’t even know I’m a writer.
This blogger: (*Stares wide-eyed*.) Really!? How is that possible?
Hannah continues: My husband isn’t much of a reader, and my mom is quite proud of me being a writer; yet, she has never actually read any of my books. I have four children, and my two eldest daughters actively collaborated with me in offering ideas and feedback for my Middle Grade fantasy novel, Dragon Diplomacy. I have high hopes of them reading my adult fiction as they get a little older.
The Breath of Earth (the third instalment in The Frozen World series) is your most recent book. What would you like readers to gain or learn from the story?
The entire Frozen World series is in the sub-genre of what can be defined as environmental science fiction. It tells about a near-utopian society of the Anai, an isolated tribe living in a warm microclimate pocket in Antarctica. The themes, or rather the universal questions of these stories, revolve around humankind and its relations with nature. Namely, can people coexist with nature without despoiling it? Can the desire to do right and preserve the world we live in overcome greed and power struggles? What are some things one is never justified in doing, not even in the name of survival?
What is your next book called and when will it be released?
I am currently outlining the next book in the Frozen World series. It will be titled The Bloodthirst Gene, and it will explore the question of whether violence is a necessary trait for human survival. It will also, of course, include elements from the previous books in the series: an Antarctic setting, a dystopian world, and an oasis of harmony between man and nature.
I am also working on a very different project, a historical novel that takes place in Ethiopia at the end of the 8th century AD. As for release dates, I really can’t commit to anything specific at the moment, but it will take at least a few months.
This blogger: Your books/projects sound very exciting. Plus, your ability to multi-task in terms of writing is exceptional.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Apart from writing and, of course, reading, I like to express my creativity in practical ways. Namely, I crochet clothes, toys, baskets, and home décor. I make soap, candles, and natural body care products. There’s nothing more satisfying that using a unique, quality product I have made myself.
Moreover, I love my garden and animals – we have two cats and a flock of chickens, which never fail to entertain us with their antics. I also enjoy taking nature walks with my children whenever I have the chance. All these low-tech activities help me decompress and reconnect with an island of inner peace within me. And I enjoy teaching my children in the process, too!
This blogger: Hannah, you sound like a multi-talented, high-energy and intelligent person, who has an amazing balance and a giving nature. Keep it up!
Hannah continues: (*Smiles*.) Thank you, and thank you so much for the opportunity of this interview.
End of Interview
This brings an end to our interview with author Hannah Ross. I would like to thank her for her time as it has been delightful getting to know her. I wish her all the best in her future writings, as well as with her family, animals, and other numerous ventures.
You can purchase Hannah’s amazing sci-fi series, The Frozen World, on Amazon (starting with The Last Outpost) and I believe wholeheartedly that you will love it. Otherwise, sign up to Hannah’s blog; like Hannah on Facebook; and follow her on Instagram and Twitter. This way, you will be able to keep up to date with her and know precisely when her next book, The Bloodthirst Gene, will be available to purchase.
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