Julia Hoban Interview
Posted August 1, 2009on:
Finally, an interview with Julia! This is a very special interview because I didn’t come up with the questions onmy own. Julia and I actually had a (very long) phone conversation a few weeks ago to brainstorm for these. I hope you all enjoy!
What has been the biggest surprise since WILLOW has been published?
There have been many, many surprises! I certainly never knew that there was a whole book blogging community out there, and I never expected to be treated with such kindness and consideration by that community! That was truly a surprise, as well as being an absolutely wonderful experience. Other surprises? Hmmm…. I was rather taken aback that no one ever questioned all the literary references in WILLOW, I expected to get a lot of comments about them, but no….
Where did you picture WILLOW taking place. Is it true that the bookstore Willow goes to is THE STRAND?
I never actually mention where Willow takes place. I did this because I wanted readers to be able to visualize a setting that was familiar to them — but to my mind it is firmly located in New York City, and yes the bookstore is most certainly The Strand. I’ll tell you a funny story — I had been struggling with my description of The Strand, it took me a while to nail it, but I think that after a few attempts I was able to capture something of the place. In any case, I had finally finished that part and was feeling rather flush with success when I ran into a fellow in my elevator. He was carrying a large bag from The Strand, and being somebody who never keeps their mouth shut when they should, I immediately launched into a (one sided!) conversation about how I was writing a book in which The Strand figured rather prominently. I spoke with great enthusiasm about how I felt that I had really caught the spirit of the place : the rudeness of the staff, the dirt, how the store had a certain … odor… I spoke at length for some minutes. When I was finished the man just looked at me and said “I’m one of the managers.” !!!
Do you think WILLOW is an issue book? Was that your goal when writing it?
You know I really don’t think that WILLOW is an issue book at all. To my mind it isn’t a book about cutting, it’s a book about someone in pain, who doesn’t know how to process that pain in an appropriate fashion, but who does move towards recovery. I think we’ve all been in pain, and I think we’re all self destructive to one degree or another. If I had any goal it was that I wanted to take readers on a journey with my character — a healing journey, one that would possible make people think twice about their own damaging behaviors, one that would possibly give them hope.
It says in the back of the book that you design your own clothes and handbags! Tell us a little bit about that. How long have you been doing that?
I guess I’ve been doing that since I left graduate school, about four years now. People seem fearfully impressed by this, but if you could see the dress I did where I put the sleeves on backwards, I don’t think you’d be able to stop laughing! It’s really just that I’m mad for old time movie star style. I worship the actresses of the Thirties and Forties, and I steal a lot of those designs.
Do you dogear or bookmark?
Neither. I just remember what page I’m on….
If you could meet any writer in history, who would it be and why?
I’m sure that it seems like a cliché to say it, but my answer would have to be Shakespeare. Why? Well, he’s not just the greatest writer to have ever lived, but one of the greatest thinkers as well. There’s a very important literary critic named Harold Bloom, who has a great line concerning Shakespeare. According to Bloom, the older he (Bloom) gets, the more he realizes that Shakespeare knew more than any man ever has or ever will. And let’s not forget that Shakespeare wrapped that knowledge in more beautiful language than anyone has ever written!!