An Interview With Hannah Mary McKinnon, Author of “Her Secret Son” ​and Linda’s Book Obsession

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Q&A with Linda & Hannah – June 2, 2019

 

  1. What was your motivation in becoming an author and writer? What did you do before you were a writer?

 

Funnily enough, I became a writer because I lost my way! After leaving school I was exceedingly career-focused and studied business. I worked in different industries before joining an IT recruitment company in the mid-90s and ended up running that firm for a number of years before moving to Canada in 2010 with my husband and three sons. Upon my arrival, I started my own company, which failed miserably. That’s when I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do next. I was very fortunate to be able to take the time to reevaluate my situation, and that’s when I rediscovered my love of writing, something I’d all but forgotten about since school. Now, three books out and another scheduled for next year, I’m still exceedingly focused—on my career as an author this time—and can’t imagine doing anything else.

 

  1. What motivated or inspired you to write?

 

Other than my company failing and looking for a new direction, I think it was having more time to read. It helped me remember how much I loved creative writing, how I adored telling stories, making up characters and the worlds they live in. I desperately wanted to be more creative, to not look at spreadsheets, metrics and performance evaluations anymore. I’d always dreamed of one day walking into a bookstore and seeing my novel on the shelf—and I was determined to find out if I could do it.

  1. How did you go about researching for your book?

 

Her Secret Son was challenging in a number of ways. First of all, there was a geographical location. The story is set in upstate New York and Maine, which was a deliberate choice because I live near Toronto, so it was relatively easy to visit (which I did, and thoroughly enjoyed). Then I had to look into more technical aspects such as legal guardianship, fostering and adoption, obtaining birth certificates, registering a child for school, interactions with child protective services, possible consequences for DUI’s and another few things I won’t mention or I’ll spoil the surprise. I made lots of phone calls, including to fellow author Bruce Coffin, who was a detective in Maine for 25 years, and a coroner—everyone was so helpful and generous with their advice and time. While much of the research didn’t make it into the book, it gave me the assurance the story would feel plausible and authentic, which was very important to me.

 

  1. What are your goals for readers to take away after reading?

 

I’d like a reader to put their book, e-reader or headphones down at the end of the story and think, “Gosh, that was time well spent.” That’s my primary goal—to entertain, and hopefully leave the person wanting to explore more of my work.

 

 

  1. What is a typical day of your life?

 

I’m usually up by 5.30 or 6 am, and the first thing I do is work-out. It’s early, but it sets me up for the day. I’m typically at my desk by 9 and work until the kids come home from school mid-afternoon. Depending on the stage I’m at with my projects, I’ll work again in the evening. I tend to keep weekends free for the family unless I’m deep in the editing phase—in which case all bets are off and I’ll work around the clock!

 

  1. What are your hobbies or things you do in your downtime?

 

I work out a fair amount, spend time with my family, love being outdoors, and watch movies. I bake, too (hence the working out!), and I read all the time, so you’ll usually find me with my nose stuck in a book, or my headphones on, listening to someone else telling me a story instead.

  1. What can you tell us of any new writing projects that you might have?

 

My fourth novel (working title Sister Dear) will be out spring 2020. It’s another domestic suspense/drama, this time about half-sisters who don’t know the other exists…until one of them finds out, and decides to infiltrate her sibling’s life. It’s dark and twisty, and a lot of fun to write. I’ve outlined my fifth novel, and will make a start on that one over the summer—I’m excited!

 

  1. What are your favorite genres of books that you like to read?

 

I love domestic suspense and thrillers, but throw in a good romance or some historical fiction, and I’m all set!

  1. What advice can you give to someone that wants to be a writer?

 

Read—a lot. Listen to audiobooks, too, as it helps with flow, cadence, and pacing. Take writing courses to help you plot and structure your stories. Join a writing group to get feedback. If feasible, find a professional editor to help polish your manuscript. Most importantly, trust your instincts and don’t listen to that inner critic insisting your work is rubbish—your first draft will never be your best work, so tell that voice to shut up, and keep writing.

 

  1. If your book were adapted to the screen, what actors, actresses could you envision for the main characters?

 

I’d love for Alex Wyndham, who narrated Her Secret Son, to play Josh. He performed the audiobook with such conviction—and he’s a professionally trained actor—I can already see him in that role. Rosamund Pike would be perfect as Josh’s sister, Lisa. Mila Kunis as Emily, please. And Rebecca Ferguson would be great as Grace.

 

 

 

  1. How would you like the readers to connect with you?

 

I love connecting with readers and you’ll find me on:

 

Facebook www.facebook.com/hannahmarymckinnon

Instagram @HannahMaryMcKinnon

Twitter @HannahMMcKinnon

Website www.HannahMaryMcKinnon.com

Goodreads www.goodreads.com/author/show/15144570.Hannah_Mary_McKinnon

Amazon www.amazon.com/Hannah-Mary-McKinnon/e/B01DKQ72EM

 

I also love joining book clubs for a chat via Skype or FaceTime – contact me and we’ll set something up.

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