September 7th, 2010

Interview with HEX HALL author Rachel Hawkins

Story Overview from Goodreads:  Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as po ...more Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father--an elusive European warlock--only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Hi Rachel!  Thanks so much for joining us at The Enchanted Inkpot to talk about your delightful debut fantasy novel HEX HALL.  I just want to start off by saying I loved your book!  It was so much fun to read – once I started I couldn’t put it down!  I can safely say HEX HALL pretty much has *everything* a reader would hope to find in a paranormal fantasy novel to keep us turning the pages and is funny too.

Tell us a little bit about your path to publication. I’ve read that you were a high school teacher and quit school in the middle of the year to write this book. Had you been thinking about the story for awhile or did you the idea just show up one day and you knew that you’d rather be a writer?

Thanks so much for having me! Ah, yes, my Crazy Sauce route to publication. The basic idea behind HEX HALL had been brewing awhile before I quit my job to write the book. But basically it was the perfect storm of GRAD SCHOOL RED TAPE and GENERAL SUCKINESS WHERE I TAUGHT and OMGWTF KIDS ARE RIOTING IS THAT PEPPER SPRAY…OW, YES APPARENTLY IT IS that made me decide to quit teaching. ;-) Once I’d done that, I knew it was time to get serious about writing or, um, starve, and those first few pages of HEX HALL were what I came back to!

Sophie, the protagonist is so funny and self-deprecating - she has a great voice and I immediately connected with her.  Did her character change over the course of writing the novel?

Sophie is very rare in HEX HALL in that she’s pretty much the only character who didn’t change as I wrote the book! She came in very clear (and very snarky. And with very bad hair. Sorry, Soph) right from the beginning.

Is Sophie like you?

In some ways, sure. We share a similar love for Witty Boys, and a deep appreciation for sarcasm, but she’s a lot ballsier than me! I would never have talked back to a teacher!

There are many light, humorous moments in the book mixed with dark, scary twists that keep the reader off balance, wondering what’s going to happen next. Did you set out to write something light and the dark crept in or did you know from the beginning that it would have an engaging mix of humor and scary stuff?

I was actually kind of horrified when the book started turning funny! I was definitely under the impression that dark and angst-cakes was the way to go in a YA novel. But Sophie was making silly jokes right from the get-go, and eventually, I just decided to go with it! Listen to the voices in your head, I always say. Unless those voices tell you to blow something/someone up. Then maybe ignore. ;-)

So, I have to admit by the end of the book I had a crush on Archer, the hot Warlock. Will we see more of him in the next two books of this trilogy?

Oh, yes, there is much more Archer to come! First off, boyfriend has some ‘splainin’ to do. Secondly, I have entirely too much fun writing him! In a lot of ways, he and Sophie are on very similar paths, and that level of dysfunction is always a joy. In fiction. ;-)

Tell me a secret about Hex Hall.

Mrs. Casnoff’s bedroom is COVERED in R-Pattz posters. Seriously, it’s embarrassing. Oh, and there’s a movie theatre hidden somewhere in the depths of the school, and all they show are old monster movies. Trufax.

This novel includes Witches, Warlocks, Vampires, Faeries, Shapeshifters, Werewolves, Demons, Magic, Curses – HEX HALL has it all! –Can you give us a hint of what the sequel, which I believe is entitled DEMONGLASS, (love that word, btw!) might be about and when will it be out?

I like to call DEMONGLASS “Sophie’s Hexcellent Summer Vacation.” Basically, Soph and Co. head to England, both to deal with the fallout from HEX HALL, and to learn a little more about her family history. Forbidden kisses, monster attacks, and Surprise!Ghosts ensue.

Rachel - thank you so much for joining us here today and I’m so glad I had a chance to read HEX HALL.  Can’t wait for DEMONGLASS!

Thank you SO MUCH for having me!! These questions were so fun!

To learn more about Rachel and her books visit her blog.

~Kiki Hamilton
THE FAERIE RING, Tor Books / Macmillan October 2011