Q&A: Alice Hoffman talks about writing, new book

Alice Hoffman will be appearing at the Bellevue Regional Library at 12:30 p.m. April 30. For more information visit www.kcls.org.

  • Monday, June 2, 2008 4:18pm
  • Life

Alice Hoffman

Meet Hoffman

Alice Hoffman will be appearing at the Bellevue Regional Library at 12:30 p.m. April 30. For more information visit www.kcls.org.

The Third Angel, published by Shaye Areheart/Crown, was released on April 8, 2008. $25.

Alice Hoffman has been entertaining readers for years with her unique blend of magical fiction, intricate characters and soaring story telling. Her new novel, The Third Angel, takes the reader on a powerful journey to the heights of love, the depths of sorrow and explores the balance that forgiveness brings.

The novel is set in London and tells the story of three women in love with the wrong men. The novel, divided into three parts, follows the lives and lessons learned by the three main characters in the years 1952, 1966 and 1999.

Throughout her successful career, Hoffman has published 18 novels, two books of short fiction, and eight books for children and young adults. Her novel, Here on Earth was an Oprah Book Club selection and her young adult books, Practical Magic and Aquamarine went from bestsellers to big screen Hollywood movies.

Currently touring the country, Hoffman will be stopping by the Bellevue Regional Library on April 30 for an exclusive meet and greet. The Reporter recently spoke with Hoffman about her new novel, magical imagination and living out her own fairy tale.

Reporter: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Hoffman: I think in a way I did, but I was more of a reader when I was younger. I was a secret writer and I got serious about it in college.

Reporter: Many of your books are categorized as magical fiction. How do you blend reality, detail and fantasy?

Hoffman: I feel that it’s the traditional, original manner of literature. Whether folk tale or fairy tale it comes easy. It’s the natural progression of literature.

Reporter: Do you draw from real life experiences when writing?

Hoffman: I’m not that interested in real life. I enjoy creating an alternate world. Real things drift into my books, but I’m into escaping reality.

Reporter: Where did the concept of the unique story sequence in The Third Angel come from?

Hoffman: I’m not really sure. I can tell you it’s not an easy thing to write. You can read the book front to back and back to front.

It was difficult to write something that works both ways. If you begin at the end you don’t want to give to much away. It was like a puzzle.

I can’t remember deciding to write it that way, it was an organic thing. I didn’t know how it was going to be related.

Reporter: What does the blue heron in The Third Angel symbolize?

Hoffman: I’m intrigued by herons. They’re beautiful and they’re natural fairy-tale figures. In Holland there’s a reverence for the heron and the name means ‘man’ in Dutch. I had a sister-in-law who died of cancer and during her treatment she found a connection with herons. She was inspired by them. It resembled a fairy tale motif for the end of her life; a place where she found inspiration.

Reporter: How did you come up with the title of your new book?

Hoffman: The Third Angel is a running theme in the book. Your guardian angel may be someone you help or it may be someone who helps you.

Reporter: Do the dates used in the novel: 1952, 1966 and 1999 have any significance to you?

Hoffman: I wrote about the year 1952 because that was the year I was born and I wanted to be there and know about those times. In 1966 I was 12-years-old, the same age as one of the main characters in the novel. As for 1966, I grew up in the sixties and I feel I’m still influenced by the music and literature of that decade. I wanted to write about what it was like in London during the sixties. I touched on Diana’s death that took place prior to 1999. It was a sad end to her own fairy tale. I wanted to write about that time as well and how it touched so many people’s lives.

Reporter: Do you enjoy meeting your fans and gaining feedback on your writing?

Hoffman: I have to say I feel like I have the nicest readers in the world. Touring has been a really positive experience. I have a lot of mother/daughter readers and book club members who share their experiences. As a writer you’re sitting alone in your room most of the time so it’s fun to get out there.

Lindsay Larin can be reached at llarin@reporternewspapers.com or 425-453-4602.

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