Friday, March 22, 2013

Menna van Praag - The House at the End of Hope Street - Author Interview

Author Interview 

1. How did you come up with the title?
Like all my favorite titles, this one simply dropped -- fully formed -- into my head. It gave life to the story, a tale about a magical house that would heal women who'd reached the end of hope in their lives.

2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Peggy, he landlady of Hope Street tells her residents that the house won't necessarily give them what they want, but what they need. I do believe this about life, and it's a comforting thing to know. At the end of the book, I hope readers feel this too.

3. How much of the book is realistic?
Only the house is magical, the setting (the city of Cambridge) and the characters are all grounded in reality. Peggy is psychic and Alba, the protagonist, is able to see the secrets people are hiding. I love magical realism because that's the way I like to view the world, as if there might be a little magic hiding around the corner. When I was a child I always looked in the back of closets, just in case I might stumble into Narnia. I still do that.

4. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
Hope Street took me over two years to write and went through more than twenty full drafts, so I'm pretty pleased with the way it's turned out. However, the urge to keep editing is always there. When the book finally went to print I decided not to read it again, because I wasn't able to change anything anymore.

5. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
During one draft I had to cut out several of the characters. I was in mourning for weeks. I still miss them.

6. Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes, a great deal. In the beginning I established the magical house and populated it with women who'd each suffered a tragedy that caused them to lose hope. After that, I had no idea what would happen next, how their lives would transform and how they would find hope again. Whenever I sat down to write I was constantly surprised and delighted by the insights and inspirations offered to each character by the house and its landlady, Peggy.

7. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I wrote diaries and stories as a little girl but the first time I ever imagined that writing could be more than just a hobby was when I was eighteen and my English Literature teacher told me that my poems were publishable.

8. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Alice Hoffman. I love the magic in her tales, along with the acute realism of the worlds she creates. Sometimes her stories are a little too dark for my tastes, but the touches of magic are always a treat. Her writing always appears effortless to me, though I doubt it is.

9. Tell us your latest news.
I've just finished editing my second novel, tentatively titled The Dress Shop of Dreams, which I hope will be out next year. It's the story of a young scientist who falls in love with a bookshop owner, a man with a magical voice. She's mourning the lost of her parents and needs the help of her grandmother, the seamstress who creates enchanted dresses that transform women's lives, to learn how to love. She also needs to solve the mystery of her parent's deaths. Just as I'd love to live in The House at the End of Hope Street, I'd also love to visit the Dress Shop of Dreams.

10. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
You can read The House at the End of Hope Street purely for fun but, if you're currently experiencing a challenging time in your life, then you'll certainly find inspiration in its pages.

About the Book

A magical novel about an enchanted house that offers refuge to women in their time of need

Knocked off-kilter by the Worst Event of Her Life, Alba Ashby finds herself in front of a house in Cambridge, England, that she's never seen before. There, a beautiful older woman invites her to stay on the house's usual conditions -- she'll have ninety-nine nights, and no more, to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in.

She soon discovers that 11 Hope Street is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who have hung around to help newcomers -- literally, in talking portraits on the wall. Here Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds -- and maybe even save her life.

The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom that is sure to appeal to fans of bestselling authors Jasper Fforde, Lev Grossman, and especially Sarah Addison Allen.

Prices/Formats: $25.95 hardcover
Pages: 304
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Release Date: April 4, 2013
Buy Links: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Menna van Praag, author of The House at the End of Hope Street, is a freelance writer, journalist and Oxford graduate. She is also the author of Men, Money and Chocolate, an international success, already translated into twenty-six languages. She lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and son.

Links to connect with Menna:
Web site

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