Monday, August 3, 2015

Hannah Warren: The Cottage on the Border

Please welcome Netherlands author Hannah Warren and her fascinating contemporary family saga, The Cottage on the Border. Not only is Hannah treating us to an enjoyable interview with her main character, she’s also giving away an eCopy of her book, first in a trilogy. All you have to do is leave a comment answering the question at the end of the interview. Welcome to The Plain, Hannah.
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Thank you for having me here on your blog. I am thrilled to be here.

When I told her I wanted to do something different from the ordinary author interview, Pat suggested to interview one of my characters. ‘Hmm’, I thought at first, ‘how crazy can I get?’ But while cycling to the nearest town to do my shopping on a Dutch summer’s day with a temperature of 16 °C (60 °F) -ghastly! -, I felt quite sane and immediately tons of questions popped into my head that I’d like to ask the main character of my trilogy: Jenna Kroon de Coligny.

The Jenna Kroon Series is my first attempt at writing a trilogy but it didn't originally start out as such. Book 1 The Cottage on The Border, published by Tirgearr Publishing on 29 May 2014, was meant as a standalone novel about the troubled but talented modern dancer Jenna Kroon de Coligny (19) and her distorted ancestry and difficult upbringing. It explores Jenna's tentative attempts at accepting that adopted bonds prevail over blood bonds.

Book 2 The Farm on Nieuw Land Road, coming from Tirgearr Publishing in 2016, continues Jenna’s story. Book 3, The House On Broadway, will also be published by Tirgearr Publishing.

So high time to ask Jenna some questions about herself.

Hannah: Hello Jenna, welcome to my interview. I’m looking forward to it. Hope you are too.
Jenna: Well, you know me, Hannah, the eternal skeptic. Let’s hear your questions first and then I’ll tell you how I feel about answering them.
Hannah: Okay, fair enough. Are there any aspects I have to steer clear from? Gosh, I feel like I’m interviewing a celebrity.
Jenna: *shrugs* I don’t answer questions about my childhood memories. For the rest, each question will be considered separately.
Hannah: Most people you come in touch with, for example your foster family and your dance manager Mario Mozzi, approach you in a friendly and positive way. They seem to like you and greatly admire you as a dancer but you do not always react with the same friendliness. Are you aware of that?
Jenna: I don’t believe we’re obliged to react to others the same way they react to us. If people choose to use kindness and friendliness as their approach to others that’s fine by me. I’ve never been a very empathic person – Haha that’s an understatement, I know – nor do I have an inclination to appease others. I may not be the friendliest of the bunch but at least I’m honest. I don’t soft-soap and I don’t play the hypocrite. Perhaps I’m just not good with words. I generally don’t feel my best outside the dance floor.
Hannah: Do you think you express a ‘different language’ when you dance?
Jenna: *smiles genuinely* I’m sure of it. If I didn’t, no one would continue to put up with me. As a rule, I don’t analyse myself but when I dance, I become softer, opener…uhm…nicer. Dance gives me many more opportunities to communicate emotions. I can never catch them in words or in a dialogue. And frankly, I don’t need to. I wasn’t born to talk. I’ll gladly leave that to others.
Hannah: You seem to be doing a good job now.
Jenna: Well, I’ve never given an interview before. This is a novelty. Probably will be a once only. When I danced with Mozzi in Amsterdam, I let him do the talking and now my manager answers the press. It’s safer that way, no doubt. Less treading on people’s toes. The show must continue to bring in the cash. It won’t help if I keep rubbing up against everyone.
Hannah: There is an eternal debate going on whether you are an anorectic or not. You certainly become edgy when people comment on your food intake or your weight. Do you want to tell us why?
Jenna: *screws up her eyes, then sighs* Not really, but okay. Perhaps best to clear the air for once and for all.
1. I’m not an anorectic. I forget to eat as I’m not hungry. My brother Vincent, the psychiatrist you know, finally believes me. It’s a different disorder that only resembles anorexia. I’ve forgotten the Latin term for it because it doesn’t interest me. Anorectics are hungry until they starve themselves and then can’t get food inside anymore. But I have no hunger impulse for god knows what reason. Because I’m always busy with dancing, I forget to eat and because it’s such a hard physical training every idiot understands that I should eat. Yeah, I’m that idiot. But I really have to force it down. Eating is not something that’s easy for me, so if I’m really focused or too tired, I don’t have the discipline to sit down and eat at regular times.
2. I naturally have a very slender built and look skinny anyway. If it wasn’t for my muscles I’d be a real mongrel.
3. I hate anorectics. There are so many people on this earth that have no access to food and those silly people decide they just won’t take nourishment, for whatever stupid reason. Because it is a stupid reason that starts them off! I truly wish I had the hunger impulse. At least I now know that the more I relax, the better I can digest food.
Hannah: So how is the situation now?
Jenna: I’m okay. My ideal weight is 50 kilos and I’ve managed to stay that for 6 months now without a relapse. I’ve never been able to keep this weight for so long. It helps that I have a cook now, who prepares my portions with all the necessary ingredients and vitamins. She sees to it that I don’t skip any portion. I prefer to call them portions, not meals. The word meal doesn’t do it for me.
Hannah: I’m glad to hear that. Can you tell us a little more about your emotional stability right now? Your mood swings in combination with the underweight seem to have been the greatest obstacles to your career.
Jenna: *grins maliciously* I never have any idea what will happen to me tomorrow but the home front currently thinks of me as keeping to the straight and narrow, so we’ll see if they’re right. After I’d stayed with Denise at Nieuw Land Farm for a while, I felt strong enough to go back to New York to complete the choreography course at Madison Ballet School. And I passed! Right now I’m taking a look at my options. Boras has asked me to partner with him again and although he’s a great dancer, he gets under my skin from time to time. A bit like Vincent. These guys are just too damn nice and that always awakens the superbitch in me. So I’m probably doing him a favour by turning his offer down. But, yeah, I’ll definitely be dancing here or there on some stage, modern or classical, or a mix of my own.
Hannah: Next to dancing, you have at least one other gift. When you hold a photo in your hand, you can see the story behind the photo. Do you want to explain that to us?
Jenna: *peers intently at me with her violet eyes* I’d be willing to explain to you what it is if I understood it myself. It’s just something that happens, involuntarily. I really have no clue. But I don’t particularly enjoy it, especially because when I come back to the ‘now’, I’m all stiff and shaky as if I’ve been lying in a hard wooden coffin for hours. I try to avoid touching photographs, sometimes even looking at them, but the pull can be so strong that I can’t resist it. Then I know I’m supposed to ‘see’ the story. It’s like pieces of a puzzle, sometimes from a period before I was born and sometimes quite recently. Haven’t tried to see the future yet. Well, *she shrugs* I wouldn’t want to be in the future if I could help it. The past has already taken place, so there’s nothing that can be changed about it, but the future? No, thank you!
Hannah: One final question. Do you think you will ever be happy, or at least come into quieter waters?
Jenna: Excellent question but I’m not answering it. Here’s the deal. Ask your readers this question. The one who gives the correct answer wins a copy of The Cottage on The Border.
Hannah: Okay. I will do that. Thank you for this interview, Jenna. I’ve learnt a lot more about you.
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Book Blurb for The Cottage on The Border:
Jenna's earliest memory is of her mother's feet dangling in dust motes, as a three year old left orphaned while her mother's corpse hung from a beam. Her mother committed suicide, that's how she escaped and freed herself. When her own life falls apart Jenna's earliest memory becomes her anchor, she too wants to be free.

Vincent Van Son is Jenna's adopted brother, her psychiatrist, perhaps her only friend. He takes her to the Cottage for recovery, determined to rescue his sister from herself after her failed suicide attempt. The cottage on the border is at Oud Land, and is the location of many dark secrets.

Jenna's close call with death leaves her open to the psychic world, and in this cottage in the onset of a misty winter, Jenna hears them, the voices of the past, memories of what happened on the border. It becomes a journey to herself. She has to listen, to witness, she has no choice. Their stories are her story, and it is a long heritage of murder, deceit, ethnic discourse and betrayal.

Perspective returns to the introspective prima ballerina, she has learned the truth of her family, of this cottage of psychic confessions. She alone emerges from the rubble of six decades of troubled family history, a lone phoenix.

The Cottage on The Border is a tale of murder, mystery, intrigue, familial despair, heartbreak, and spiritual resurrection.

About Hannah Warren:
Hannah Warren was born in Paris (Fr.) in 1956 as a second child to a Dutch father and an English mother. She has lived in The Netherlands almost all her life but maintains strong ties with her own favourite triangle: France, UK and Holland.

Hannah studied Dutch literature and Mass Communication at the University of Amsterdam and later obtained a B.A. in English Literature and Language and a B.A. in Translation from Rotterdam University. After having been a lecturer and a translator for many years, she now works as a staff member at the International Office of HZ University of Applied Sciences in Vlissingen.

Her free-time is taken up by writing fiction and doing Yoga. She also likes going on long hikes while listening to audiobooks. After having been a single mum for nearly two decades, her three children have flown the nest. The great sadness that befell Hannah in March 2014 was the loss of her eldest child, daughter Joy, who died after an intense two-year struggle against bile duct cancer. Currently her second child, son Ivor, is fighting a brain tumour. Her whole life and the future of her children (-in-law) is totally upside down. Writing fiction is Hannah’s main outlet in her grief.

From the age of 8, Ms Warren has written poetry, novels and short stories but it took her over 50 years to become a published author. In the past four years she signed with two small Indie publishing houses, who released Hannah’s first two novels, a literary romance and a suspenseful family saga. She is currently writing the sequel to the second book and also a five-book series about five generations of daughters between 1876 and 2015. Hannah found her niche in writing fictional stories about strong women who lead challenging lives.
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The Cottage on the Border / eBook available from

6 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for having me on Across The Plain of Shining Books. It's a great experience!

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    1. It's a pleasure hosting you and Jenna, Hannah. I enjoyed this interview. Jenna is a feisty young lady. Best of luck to you and your writing.

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  2. Loved reading all about Jenna and Hannah! Great interview :)

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  3. What an interesting and unusual idea to interview your character, Hannah. Actually, it's a bit like hot seating your character before you start to write their story. I loved it. Very well done.

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    1. Thank you, Cathy. It was Pat's idea and yes it's brilliant. Much nicer than answering the usual author questions! :-)

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