Hannah Schwartz

Recently, Between the Lines had a very good reason to roll back the stone and amble about in cyber-space like a liver-spotted Lazarus in too-tight walking shorts. If you recoil at the image, don’t blame me. Blame today’s guest, who just happens to frequent my favorite coffee shop in the world, though I’ve never personally met her. I know this to be true because, after having logged-on to Crema’s wireless network, I was redirected to their Facebook page, where I found this tantalizing wall post: “Got the gallies for my new book — and of course I thanked Crema for letting me sit here day after day…” Hannah had me at gallies. For more, please visit her author’s website.

Who are you?

I’m Hannah Schwartz, a full-time novelist of paranormal suspense, cozy mysteries and traditional and paranormal YA. I’ve been reading as long as I’ve been writing and was the stereotypical “super-reader” up all night with the flashlight and stash of dog-earred paperbacks.

What was the last book you read? And how did you like it?

The “last book” I’ve read is a hard one since I never actually read one book – I’ve always got one in the purse, one on the nightstand, a few for research and a few just for fun. Most recently I finished (and loved) Sophie Littlefield’s A Bad Day for Sorry — heroine Stella Hardesty is both bad-assed and tender. For research, I most recently lost sleep over Fiction and Forensics and a few criminology textbooks. I’m toting around Wintergirls which is a teen book and Jonathan Hayes’ Precious Blood just to round things out.

Why do you read?

Why I read changes every fifteen minutes. Of course there is the general escapism that fiction supplies — there is also that odd sense of connection with a character, a time, a story, an author while being completely disconnected from your current surroundings. I read to remind myself that someone, somewhere, knows that ‘hella’ ‘I could of‘ and ‘I could care less’ are perversions of innocent grammar. I read to learn about the world, to forget about the world, to consider how I would change the world — via literature. But mostly I read because to me, it’s life-sustaining. I know that sounds pompous and melodramatic, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read or didn’t survive by disappearing into a book. And yes, I understand that last line may have been lifted from an old Reading Rainbow episode, but it’s still true.

Kindle, audiobook, or good, old-fashioned paper pages? Why?

For me, nothing can replace good, old-fashioned paper pages. Otherwise, it’s just not a book. I’ve listened to my fair share of audiobooks but to this day, I don’t consider the books that I’ve “listened to” as read. They were heard — words manipulated by the speaker rather than tossed around in my own head. As for Kindle, I hear the argument that people read too fast and don’t want to schlep around the weight of actual books. Call me neurotic (and I am not denying that I am), but the weight of a book in my bag/purse/carriage/whatever/ makes me feel secure, happy, and one step removed from the liver-spotted man in too-tight walking shorts and black socks coughing on me in the line at the Kaiser pharmacy.

What is the greatest treasure you’ve unearthed at a used bookstore? Describe.

I’m a huge T.S. Eliot fan and whenever I find a used bookstore I always try to ferret out something I don’t have. Years ago I stumbled on a first edition, mint condition copy of his Quartets — a rather rare printing. I would have paid an arm and a leg for it, but the kid only charged me 3 bucks. Should my as-yet unborn children decide to pry it from my cold, dead hands and hock it on eBay, they’ll easily take in just over $3,000.

What was the last book you read that made you laugh out loud?

Celia Rivenbark’s Stop Dressing Your Six-Year Old Like a Skank. It’s impossible to keep a straight face when you nip into chapter 14 titled, “Reality Bites: Super Skanks Lewinsky and Hilton are Fun to Watch, but Those 100lb Toddlers Rule!” …even if you are in church.

Is there a novel you dislike so intensely you’d like to will it out of existence?

I would like to will the entire Twilight series out of existence and wipe it, the pasty Rob Pattison and his moody, single-expression Bella right out of our collective consciousness. And let me begin by saying that generally, I love YA fiction. I think it is definitely an under-appreciated genre that has blossomed both in style and subject over the last five to ten years. Teens are smarter, sassier, moodier and thinner than they were when I was young; so many authors address this, writing with a sophisticated style or covering subject matter that is adult but applicable — consider L.H. Anderson’s Speak or McCormick’s Sold. And then there’s Twilight. While I’m all for fun “junk lit” (the old Sweet Valley High series comes to mind) I readily rally against “crap lit.” Seriously—how many times can one character mope in one series?

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If you or someone you know wants to stroll Between the Lines, I encourage you to contact me. See Bio.

3 Responses to Hannah Schwartz

  1. jasonrriley says:

    Welcome back, Kevin. . . and thank you, Ms Schwartz, for playing the Muse.

  2. Matt Rowan says:

    “I read to remind myself that someone, somewhere, knows that ‘hella’ ‘I could of‘ and ‘I could care less’ are perversions of innocent grammar.”

    Well said. I’m inclined to agree with this sentiment. I won’t be persnickety about grammar. Can’t go that far myself, because language is to be played with, too. I blame a college English professor for the fact that I blanch at the utterance of “the reason is because” and “Which begs the question” followed with an actual question.

    Which begs the question (used with ironic intent here, you see? Ha ha!): how comfortable is / are you, Hannah Schwartz, toying with the conventions of diction and syntax in YA fiction? I have to admit I don’t read much of it (despite that it would serve me well as I work towards becoming a high school English teacher). Do you see yourself as a teacher of sorts, since it’s true the primary audience will likely be of the newer-to-reading variety?

  3. Hannah says:

    Good question, Mr. Rowan. I treat my YA prose just as I do any other written for adult consumption. While it’s true that I do, in some cases (i.e. dialogue), bow down to some slack-jawed grammatical mis-convention, I won’t “dumb down” anything for youth. I’ve actually been asked to do that – the comment was “love this story, witty, smart – but too smart for our audience. Dumb it down and we’ve got something.” I don’t necessarily consider myself a grammar/language teacher (more a carrier) but if I were, I’d be the kind of teacher who urges kids to catch up rather than to wallow in the land of Hella. The reason why is because…

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