Even before I came up with the story, I came up with the character of Henley. After Henley, I dreamed up Miss Hatfield. I fell in love with these characters and built a story around them.
The concept of the story was largely inspired by my curiosity with why we as humans are always so equally fascinated and frightened by death. One interesting way to examine mortality is to write a story about immortality, and explore how the characters deal with such issues as identity, love, and loss. These are among the central issues of all stories, but by introducing immortality into the mix I was able to have fun seeing what changed, and conversely, what is unchanging in all of us. I hope that I created an enjoyable story, but left the reader something to think about when it is all over.
Do you think time travel and immortality go hand in hand?
To me, the time traveling, along with the immortality, was a vehicle to further examine what it means to lose your childhood, your family, and your friends—everything that roots you to a particular time and place. I wanted to explore what it meant to know that we are going to one day die. One interesting way to examine mortality is to write a story about immortality, and explore how the characters deal with such issues as identity, love, and loss. These are among the central issues of all stories, but by introducing immortality into the mix I was able to have fun seeing what changed, and conversely, what is unchanging in all of us.
This book avoids the modern day, what made you choose the 50’s to take Cynthia from?
Though actually quite recent, to me the 50’s are ancient history. From the vantage point of my generation, this was a period of traditional values, white bread, a supposed golden age in the US, but probably quite bland. It seemed to be a good launch point for the story.
Can we expect more from Miss Hatfield in the future?
Miss Hatfield wouldn’t be able to stop influencing Cynthia’s life even if she tried!
Writing two books by the age of 17 is impressive. How do you find time to write?
I always joke with my friends that writing is my sport. I just don't get any exercise out of it. If my friends can spend hours practicing their sport for the love of it, I can make time to write because I love it too. I try to write a little every day even if it is just punctuating a sentence I wrote the day before. What's important to me is that I'm making progress, however small.
If you could time travel, when would you go and what would you do?
I’d love to time travel to the future, and see what kind of impact our generation leaves on the world. I’m sure a lot would have changed, but don’t they say that the more things change, the more they stay the same?
What 3 books would you take with you to a desert island?
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Speak Memory by Vladimir Nabokov, and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.
Are you a fan of cake? And if so what’s your favourite?
I will never turn down cake. I’m a huge fan of the classic chocolate cake, but I also like to spice things up with ice cream cake. Yum!
Is there anything you’ve found online recently that you’d like to share?
For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov. People have long found that reading can make them connect with other people on the closer, better level. Now science is playing catch-up and actually proving this theory.
And finally, where can readers find you online?
You can find me on Twitter at @caltabiano_anna, on my Facebook page, and on my website, annacaltabiano.com.
Thanks Anna for taking the time to answer my questions. The Seventh Miss Hatfield is published by the fine people at Gollancz on 31st July and you can buy the ebook for a teeny tiny £1.99 until 7th August.
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