“In all secrets there is a kind of guilt, however beautiful or joyful that may be, or for what good end they may be set to serve,” wrote Gilbert Parker. “Secrecy means evasion, and evasion means a problem to the moral mind.”
Throughout her debut novel, Thresholds, Adrianne Marie Hall’s skill as a storyteller deftly demonstrates that no matter the intention behind the smallest lie or casual secret of fleeting convenience, it holds the power to become a weapon of mass destruction. Hall shares how her journey as a writer began…and what path she plans to take next.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
A: When I was eight years old, my third teacher gave the class an assignment to read the poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening by Robert Frost. I absolutely loved that poem and as we discussed the poem in class, the concept of describing and or expressing one’s thoughts, feelings and ideas into something as compact as a poem was the spark that ignited my interest in writing poetry.
Q: Did you read a lot as a child and young adult?
A: Having older siblings and parents who loved to read and write was a blessing that resulted in my learning to read and write before I started kindergarten. As a matter of fact by my first day of kindergarten I had read Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White but I hadn’t yet learned how to tie my shoe strings. I am still an avid reader… and I still don’t like shoestrings.
Q: What were some of the books and who were some of the authors that made a lasting impression on you as an aspiring writer?
A: My favorite book will probably always be To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Not only is the story fantastic, I just love the fact that Harper wrote just one fabulous book in 1960 and it is still in print all of these decades later. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith is also a book at the top of my favorites list but I also have to mention The Stand by Stephen King, Runaway Jury by John Grisham, and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I love to read and have read hundreds of fantastic books in my life. What I look for is a story that keeps me engaged, and surprises me at the end.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: I am actually reading through the 4 volume Digital Photography Library by Scott Kelby which might sound boring to some people but I love photography almost as much as I love to write. Just a few weeks ago I was able to meet Scott in person when I attended a photography seminar that he was teaching at the LA Convention Center. He is a photography guru.
Q: If you could go to dinner with your favorite author, who would it be, where would you go, and what question would you most like to ask him or her?
A: My favorite author is none other than Harper Lee. I would love to invite her to the Four Seasons Tea Room in Sierra Madre where we would sip tea, munch on some of their delightful finger sandwiches and delicious scones. Then I would ask Harper if she could share with me what her process was for deciding to write the classic story To Kill a Mocking Bird. Finally I would ask her to sign my copy of the novel which my father gave me when I was 12 years old.
Q: Tell us about what inspired you to write Thresholds.
A: Well, Thresholds began 18 years ago when I decided to take some of the characters that I had in my arsenal and bring them to life in a novel. The story line has been rewritten and reworked over the years but my focus was always the same. Using the premise that “Everyone has a secret and some of those secrets cross over the threshold to being outright lies” I wanted to tell a story about how secrets and lies take on lives of their own. They get out of hand and wreak havoc in the lives of the secret keepers, the lie tellers, and most often in the lives of those who are innocent bystanders.
Q: Who’s your target audience for the book?
A: I would say that my target audience would be any adult who enjoys fiction packed with twists and turns and adult content. Recently, I autographed a copy of Thresholds for a very spry woman in her late seventies. She shook my hand and told me that she not only enjoyed reading the novel, but she thought it was “Juicy”. I think I actually blushed.
Q: How do you go about creating and developing authentic characters that will resonate with your readers?
A: I have characters that pop into my head all of the time. Sometimes they are born from an unusual name that I hear or a quirky personality trait that I see in someone. I create short character bios that are 2 to 3 sentences long which I file away for a while until I decide to develop the character a little more. When I develop a character I create a mini-story about them that may range from a few paragraphs to a few pages, and again I file that away until the time comes for me to bring that character to life in a story.
Q: Do you work from an outline or just let your characters guide you as you go along?
A: I actually start with a story idea and then work on the last two pages of the story. During this process I decide on which characters from my arsenal I plan to include, and from there I just let the writing juices flow. With my novel Thresholds, I wrote down the title of the novel, the premise for the story which is that “Everyone Has A Secret……” and I decided to use Carley and Winter as my main characters both of which were characters that I pulled out of my arsenal that I created at least four years or so before I started writing the novel.
Q: Have your characters ever surprised you over the course of bringing them to life?
A: Oh absolutely. Without giving away any details and ruining it for those who have not yet read Thresholds, the character Patrick Bernard had to die.
Q: If Thresholds were turned into a movie, who would play the two lead roles?
A: Wow that’s a great question. To be honest, I would love for the characters of Carley and Winter to be played by two aspiring and gifted young women who have never before been down or near a ‘red carpet’. For every movie star that we see or hear about, there are dozens of undiscovered and equally talented people just waiting for their chance. It would be spectacular if two unknown young women were able to take their talent and make the characters of Carley and Winter shine on the big screen.
Q: Do you allow anyone to read your work in progress or do you make them wait for the finished product?
A: I make them wait for the finished product.
Q: Which do you feel is more challenging – writing fiction or nonfiction (and why)?
A: I still write poetry every now and then just for fun which is about as close to nonfiction as I can get. I have a collection of poetry which I might publish one day. For short story and novel writing, I prefer fiction because I love surprises and playing around with reality. I grew up watching the Twilight Zone, Creature Features, Night Gallery and Alfred Hitchcock which fed my already overactive imagination. Writing fiction is not a challenge at all… I love everything about it. I might someday try my hand at writing nonfiction. When and if I do, the challenge for me will be not including something that was completely over the top, unimaginable, or out of the box.
Q: How did you go about identifying a publisher for your project?
A: A few years ago, I met Azaan Kamau who runs Glover Lane Press. She was such a delight and took the process of publishing seriously. When it was time for me to pursue publishing my book, I naturally contacted her. She liked my novel and the rest is history.
Q: What do you know now that you didn’t know when your publication journey began?
A: I know more now about ISBNs than I could have ever thought necessary!
Q: You also recently launched your own business which has a unique connection to the book-loving world. Tell us about it.
A: You must be talking about Beadie Beads BookJewelry which is “A bookmark that is so unique, it has to be called BookJewelry. I actually started that company 14 years ago.
(Editor Note: Adrianne’s interview on her BookJewelry business can be found at http://thefaceofbusiness.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/beadie-books-bookjewelry/)
Q: What’s next on your plate?
A: For over 15 years it has been a dream of mine to get into the independent publishing business but I put off pursuing that dream while raising my children. Now that the three of them are adults with college degrees and careers of their own, I am moving forwarding with Anthurium Publishing LLC.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you…and buy your book?
A: Readers can learn more about me at www.authorstourusa.com and at www.thresholdsthenovel.com. My novel can be purchased in both paperback and in the Kindle versions through Amazon. On the Thresholds website there is an Amazon.com link that will take readers directly to the Amazon website where they can make their purchase. The Thresholds website also includes information for those who would like to purchase an autographed copy of Thresholds directly from me. Webster’s Fine Stationers located at 2450 N. Lake Ave, in Altadena, California also carries copies of my novel as well.