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Guest post | Kristin Hannah, author of True Colors

February 6, 2009

true-colorsjpg1Recently I had the pleasure of reading and sharing my thoughts about Kristin Hannah’s newest, True Colors. She is one of my favorite women’s fiction authors so naturally I was delighted when she offered to write a guest post for my blog. I’d like to thank Ms. Hannah for taking time from her busy writing and touring schedule to stop by The Printed Page.

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I’m often asked about the inspiration for my books. Readers wonder how I came up with a given idea. Does a light bulb just turn on one day? Do you dream your stories? Is this about someone you know?

These are the questions that arise fairly regularly. The answer is yes…no…maybe…sometimes. In other words, ideas come from all directions, at all times, and in mysterious ways. Sometimes I go in search of them–desperately looking for an issue or a character or an event that makes me stop in my tracks and mutter: what if? And sometimes they come out of the blue, hitting me in the side of the head while I’m making dinner or taking a shower or driving carpool. Honestly, there’s more than a little magic in it. And what separates a good idea from a great idea? Truthfully, you often don’t know. Sometimes you latch onto a great idea and find that it doesn’t hold up, and sometimes an okay idea turns into a butt-kicker of a story in the telling. Like I said: magic.

With Firefly Lane, I can remember exactly how I chose the core of this story. For years, I had been waiting for someone to write the big “girlfriend” book for my generation. I waited and waited and waited, buying one imposter after another; finally I realized that no one was out there, just waiting to write the story I longed for. I wanted a big, juicy emotional story about how women stay friends for decades, and how those friendships mold and define who we become. As I got older, I learned to value my girlfriends even more. No one can help you put your life in perspective like your best friend. Once I made the choice to write the book I wanted to read, I knew I had to “write what I know.” In other words, I had to bring in the music and history of my own life. All of that combined to make Firefly Lane a deeply personal book for me.

True Colors was a little different. This is a book that addresses an issue that is very important to me. As a former lawyer, I am very connected to the legal system, and more importantly, to the concept of justice. Most lawyers who have turned to writing tend to craft novels that are about solving crimes or trying individuals. But I’m a chronicler of family life; I care about emotions. So, naturally, even when writing about an explosive crime in a small town, I look to how it impacts people. True Colors is the story of three sisters, once close, who find their lives turned upside down by a stranger. Even more than that, it explores how the search for justice can tear a family apart…and how love and forgiveness can put you back on the right path. In this novel, the characters are all both loveable and deeply flawed, and each sister will make decisions that surprise the reader.

So that’s a little peek into the process that creates books. It all starts with the germ of an idea–a question, really; what if? –and goes from there, through draft after draft. My characters begin a little hollow, a little sketchy, and hopefully over time, will begin slowly to breathe on their own. I really learn who my characters are by their dialogue as much as anything. I never quite know what they’ll say when they open their mouths. It’s the not knowing that makes this job so fun…and so frustrating.

Thanks so much for letting me join your printedpage party! I hope your readers enjoy both of these books. And please let them know that I’d love to hear from them on my own blog at Kristin Hannah.

My best,
Kristin Hannah

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3 Comments
  1. February 6, 2009 5:36 pm

    What a great guest post! I love how her ideas sometimes come out of the blue and hit her upside the head. That is usually the best ideas-lol.

    I really like how she worded her character development too—‘slowly begin to breathe on their own.’ Interesting because that’s how I feel when I read a novel too-I wait for the characters to take on a life for me and breathe.

    This was such an interesting post. Thanks Kristin for posting and Marcia for hosting. I can’t wait to read the book.

  2. February 6, 2009 10:42 pm

    This was so interesting! I love peeking into the minds of writers! And she sounds like someone I would love to hang out with!

  3. February 7, 2009 3:07 pm

    Ms. hannah sure knows how to write a wonderful story. Firefly Lane ran the gamut of emotion for me, such a terrific story and the peripheral characters were great too. If you haven’t read this one, do yourself a favor and read it. I rated it 5* in my review. Just loved it!

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