I was casting about for a new project, and an image came into my mind of a dark-haired girl standing on a rocky island, looking out to sea. As I began to write in her voice, I realized that she wasn’t a mortal: she was the youngest of three Greek Fates, who spin the threads of all mortal lives. I drafted a scene in which a human girl comes to visit the Fates after a terrible tragedy and demands that they tell her what she should do with her life now.
I put that scene away for about a half a year while I was working on another story. When I came back to it, the dark and knowing voice drew me in, and I began to dream about what might happen as a result of the human girl’s question.
What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?
Greek mythology retellings: Troy (Adéle Geras), King of Ithaca (Tracy Barrett), Waiting for Odysseus (Clemence McLaren), Lavinia (Ursula K. LeGuin)
Atmospheric dark magic and/or destiny books: Sunshine (Robin McKinley), Midwinterblood (Marcus Sedgewick), The Magic Circle (Donna Jo Napoli), I Am Mordred (Nancy Springer)
Fairy-tale-inspired book by same author: A Creature of Moonlight (me!)
Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?
I wish! I would be so grateful to have the key to writing a novel. I would write a book about it for other novelists, and it would make me wagonloads of money. That said, an important realization was that there was no such thing as a perfect book, and that whatever I wrote was never going to be liked by everybody. So I should write whatever I wanted to write. I forget this over and over again and have to keep reminding myself. It’s one of those things, like cleaning an apartment, that you can never completely stop working on.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I tend to work at home, on the couch or the bed with my laptop or notebook in my lap. If I’m around lots of people, I feel like they are all watching me write, and I need to avoid thinking about other people’s opinions when I am drafting a new story. For me, writing is a mind game. A lot of my focus is on tricking myself into believing that it’s no big deal. I tell myself to just sit down and write, that it doesn’t matter if it’s any good—and at the same time, I try to find the place in my head where the urgent, interesting voices live. It’s like looking two directions at once: doesn’t matter and only write the good stuff.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
You are one voice in a very big world! Don’t worry about how many people are listening or whether everyone agrees with you. You’re only one voice, but you’re also the only one with your voice. If you can find a way to write the thing that sings deep inside of you, the thing that makes your typing fingers dance—then that’s exactly what you should be writing, not to fit into some popular trend and not to satisfy some literary ideal.
As for how exactly to find your best story . . . I wish I had the magic key to that. If you figure it out, you can write a book about it: we’ll all buy it and you’ll make wagonloads of money. In the meantime, the best advice I have is don’t be afraid of experimenting and write lots of pages.
ABOUT THE BOOKThe Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
A girl’s dark destiny could cause the unraveling of the world in this spellbinding novel from the author of A Creature of Moonlight, which Kirkus Reviews called “cumulatively stunning” in a starred review.
Heed this warning, mortal: stay far away from the three sister Fates. For if they come to love you, they might bring about the end of the world…
Chloe is the youngest. Hers are the fingers that choose the wool, that shape the thread, that begin it. The sun smiles upon her. Men love her without knowing who she is. She has lived forever and will live forever more. She and her sisters have been on their isolated Greek island for centuries, longer than any mortal can remember. They spin, measure, and slice the countless golden threads of human life. They are the three Fates, and they have stayed separate for good reason: it is dangerous for them to become involved with the humans whose lives they shape.
So when a beautiful girl named Aglaia shows up on their doorstep, Chloe tries to make sure her sisters don’t become attached. But in seeking to protect them, Chloe discovers the dark power of Aglaia’s destiny. As her path unwinds, the three Fates find themselves pulled inextricably along—toward mortal pain, and mortal love, and a fate that could unravel the world.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORRebecca Hahn grew up in Iowa, attended college in Minnesota, and soon afterward moved to New York City, where she worked as an editorial assistant and wrote her first novel, A Creature of Moonlight, on the side. Her fate has since led her to Minneapolis; she misses the ocean but loves to watch stars shine bright.
Have you had a chance to read THE SHADOW BEHIND THE STARS yet? Do you get caught up in trying to write the perfect book? Are you writing the story that makes your typing fingers dance?
Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Lisa, Susan, Jen, Sam, Lindsey, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa