Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fast Five Author Interview with Laurie Hanan

It is a pleasure to welcome author Laurie Hanan to my blog site today. Laurie grew up in the Hawaiian Islands. After college she traveled in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. She eventually returned to Hawaii, her true home, where she raised her family, then wrote and published her first suspense novel, ALMOST PARADISE. The story, set in Hawaii, showcases Laurie's familiarity with O'ahu and reflects some of the information gleaned from her extensive travels.

Laurie and I met in person for the first time at a local craft fair in Hawaii. She invited me to share a table where we displayed our respective novels. We even found time to discuss writing tips and exchange marketing strategies, along with some good laughs. With my obsession for e-books, print copies often end up on a shelf unread, but, a mystery . . . set in Hawaii . . . on the island of O’ahu? I couldn’t wait to start reading Almost Paradise.


ALMOST PARADISE
by author Laurie Hanan

FAST FIVE: Laurie, thank you for visiting today. I am eager to learn more about your novel and some of the secrets of your protagonist, Louise Golden. You are a member of Twitter, but rather than an elevator pitch of 140 characters (#hashtags included) can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for ALMOST PARADISE?

LAURIE HANAN: Louise Golden moved to O’ahu after the tragic death of her boyfriend. She’s doing her best to live a low-profile existence, finding peace in the day to day sameness of her job as a mail carrier. One of her elderly customers vanishes, and Louise becomes concerned about the woman, who has no family or friends. The police seem to be doing little to find the missing woman, so Louise starts her own search. She stops for lunch and meets a stunt man who invites her to a movie set. There, she inadvertently overhears a bit-part actor brag about killing someone. Things begin to heat up when he becomes fixated on Louise. She finds herself caught up in a web of bizarre circumstances that include car tails, stolen artifacts, a glitzy celebrity party, exotic dancing, drugs, and, of course, murder.

Most of my research was done online. I looked up Hawai’ian history and legends to check my facts, and Hawai’ian words and place names to be sure I had all the diacritical marks in place. I looked at maps and Google satellite images, and drove through the neighborhoods mentioned in my book. I interviewed a police officer about police procedure, and asked a county coroner about identifying manner of death. (She invited me to visit the morgue, but I declined.) The most enjoyable part of my research was an afternoon spent interviewing a handsome Israeli stuntman about what happens on a movie set.
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FAST FIVE: An afternoon spent interviewing a handsome Israeli stuntman sounds like a great way for an author to gather information about a novel! Laurie, you mentioned your protagonist finds peace in the day to day sameness of her job. Is “the job” the most important part of Louise Golden’s life? (Highlight the characteristics that illustrate your protagonist’s strengths.)

LAURIE HANAN: Louise is a mainlander, an outsider, viewed with suspicion by the locals. Her blond hair makes her even more conspicuous. But when she dons her postal uniform, she’s like a superhero, transformed into that great American icon, The Mail Carrier. In the uniform she’s accepted as part of the neighborhood’s scenery—all but invisible. 

Louise’s strength is her caring and compassion for the people she encounters each day. Her big heart will not allow her to look the other way when she feels someone needs her help. This is also what ends up getting her in trouble.

 FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?

LAURIE HANAN: My protagonist is not a police officer, private eye, bounty hunter, or secret agent. Her job is not to solve cases or take down deranged criminals. Louise is a very ordinary person, and not particularly heroic. She has carefully constructed her life so it offers little in the way of challenges. As a mail carrier, her goal each day is to deliver all the letters and packages and return to the station at a reasonable hour. Nothing more, nothing less. However, life has other ideas for Louise.

FAST FIVE: A heroine is sometimes described as an ordinary person performing an extraordinary act not of her choosing. Even though your protagonist isn't particularly heroic, how does Louise Golden's profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)

LAURIE HANAN: Louise’s job as a mail carrier requires her to be out in the community. For the most part, she’s unnoticed as she goes about her work. This gives her a unique opportunity to observe things other people might not. Though, for some elderly folks, a visit from the mail carrier is the highlight of their day. Louise is drawn into their lives, interacting with them on a personal level.

FAST FIVE: Is this book part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?

LAURIE HANAN: Almost Paradise is the first in the Louise Golden mystery series. The second Louise Golden mystery, How Far Is Heaven? will be released early this year. I am currently working on the third book in the series, entitled Stairway To Heaven.


FAST FIVE: Not a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why. 
LAURIE HANAN: Paris is not an option. Even if it were, I wouldn’t choose it over Hawai’i. I’ve been to Paris and, as the saying goes, it’s a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.
The Louise Golden mysteries take place in Hawai’i, so this has to be the perfect place to work. If I could create the ideal setting in Hawaii, it would be a house by the sea. I’d set my desk up so I could watch the sky change colors and the sea rise and fall. Now and then, dolphins or whales would happen by. Green sea turtles and monk seals would crawl onto the sand to bask in the tropical sun. Flocks of sandpipers would run up and down the shore, picking at the line of debris left by the high tide.
Then again, such beauty would be so distracting, I’d never write a word. So I’ll keep my desk right here beside my sliding glass door, with my view of the back lawn and the house next door.

FAST FIVE: Distracting or not, the house by the sea is an intriguing choice for a writer's retreat. Thank you for the vivid description, Laurie, and again, thank you for visiting today.

Laurie Hanan and Gail Baugniet
displaying their novels at the Craft Fair

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6 comments:

  1. Can I meet you guys on O’ahu? I just need to cover a few details like airfare.

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  2. This book caught my eye as I lived in Laie, Oahu for a year with my first husband (1975-1976). And I love mysteries. I've bookmarked the Amazon page for when I get some more book money.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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  3. Ann, I always enjoy reading a book set in Hawaii also. Yes, I know what you mean about saving up book money! With a book-in-print, you can share with a friend without looking over your shoulder for the pirating police.

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  4. Wow im going to have to check this one out! Thx Gail!

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  5. Thanks for visiting, Toby. I know you will like Laurie's portrayal of O'ahu, real kine life on the Islands.

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Aloha and thank you for visiting today!