Interview with Erin Hart

February, 2010
Erin Hart

General Questions

SS: What is your birthdate?

EH: 9/1

SS: What were your previous occupations?

EH: Stage manager, propmistress, receptionist, communications director, editor, teacher, music promoter, freelance arts journalist & theater critic.

SS: What was/is your favorite job?

EH: Writing novels, of course! I also loved being involved in any aspect of theater production -- directing, costuming, buildings sets, props...

SS: Where did you go to high school and/or college?

EH: Mayo High School -- Rochester MN; Saint Olaf College--Northfield MN; University of Minnesota-Minneapolis.

SS: Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

EH: Irish button accordion master Paddy O'Brien -- I'm not biased at all.

SS: What is your favorite movie?

EH: Tie between two Alfred Hitchcock films, "Rear Window," and "Notorious."

SS: What is your favorite television show?

EH: "Slings and Arrows," a Canadian series about a Shakespeare festival theater.

Quick Start

SS: How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

EH: Dreaming, digging, reading, scribbling, and revising, revising, revising!

SS: What is your motto or maxim?

EH: How do you know you can't do something until you actually try?

Questions About Books and Writing

SS: Who are your favorite authors?

EH: A. S. Byatt, P. D. James, Martin Cruz Smith, Minette Walters, Ruth Rendell, John Fowles, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Michael Frayn, Brian Friel, August Wilson, William Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney

SS: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

EH: Possession, by A. S. Byatt East of Eden, by John Steinbeck War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare Without Feathers by Woody Allen Theophilus North, by Thornton Wilder

SS: Is there a book you love to reread?

EH: Not really. Somehow, I seem to keep going forward... But I enjoy dipping back into Shakespeare, Austen, and Dickens any time.

SS: Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

EH: Figure out what you most fear as a writer, and try to do THAT.

SS: What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

EH: "Your characters and setting seemed so real." Followed by: "Why do your characters have to swear so much?" It's all quite amusing to me, because I believe the two are almost directly proportionate.

What Readers want to know...

SS: How would you describe perfect happiness?

EH: Those fleeting moments when the words on the page begin to come together and take on a life of their own. Those moments are rare, but there's no feeling like it in all the world.

SS: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

EH: In West Clare, with a turf fire in the grate and a steady rain on the roof.

SS: With whom in history do you most identify?

EH: Eleanor Roosevelt.

SS: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

EH: It's a tie between being funny and playing the fiddle.

SS: What’s your greatest fear?

EH: I'm actually rather claustrophobic about being underwater.

SS: What is your greatest achievement?

EH: Actually finding my way to the end of three novels... so far!

SS: What’s your greatest flaw?

EH: Too indecisive? No, wait... Probably perfectionism.

SS: What’s your best quality?

EH: A fierce devotion to laughter.

SS: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

EH: A beautiful, pale green carpet of sphagnum moss.

SS: What trait is most noticeable about you?

EH: Unbridled enthusiasm -- which is why I tend to blather on about subjects that fascinate me.

SS: Who is your favorite fictional hero?

EH: It's a tie between Sherlock Holmes and Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

SS: Who is your favorite fictional villain?

EH: Richard III.

SS: What is your biggest pet peeve?

EH: Wastefulness -- well, that, and lazy language and bad grammar. Don't get me started on the misuse of apostrophes.

SS: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

EH: Reading, cooking, listening to music.

SS: What’s your fantasy profession?

EH: Theater director.

SS: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

EH: Integrity, creativity, empathy.

SS: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

EH: Mountain Lion Colorado peaches.

SS: What are your most overused words or phrases?

EH: Well, I write suspense, so naturally the answer to this question has to be: "Suddenly..."

SS: What do you regret most?

EH: You mean, apart from starting this questionnaire? Not sticking with playing an instrument, probably.

SS: If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

EH: Oscar Wilde --but I'm sure I'd be speechless.

Get more on Erin Hart at

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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message 1: by Joe (new)

Joe As a Vermonter(transplanted 42 years ago) I am so very proud to live in a state where Chris Bohjalian writes. He is a terrific writer.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I work in a small independent bookstore, and when customers ask me about books I love, I always say Chris Bohjalian is my favorite contemporary author. I loved this interview. Thank you.

message 3: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Weimer I enjoyed this interview. Chris Bohjalian is an excellent author and I recommend him to my friends regularly. The first book I read of his was Midwives and it kept me up 2 nights. Another one I loved was Skeletons at the Feast. I happened to read that one while in Normandy, very appropriate, but coincidental. He does an excellent job at developing characters and showing different perspectives/angles. I will be getting his new book on my kindle very soon.

message 4: by Marti (last edited Feb 16, 2010 08:44AM) (new)

Marti Chris Bohjalian is one of my favorite authors. I think his books reveal so much about our lives. Not everything is as it seems. Life has ambiguities and nothing is clear cut. The Double Bind was incredible. I enjoyed Midwives, Trans-sister Radio and The Buffalo Soldiers. I also enjoy reading his weekly column in his local paper.

message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Christ Bohjalian is the ultimate in contemporary writers. Much that he writes is a like a beautiful poem. His insightfulness is astounding. I ran into him in an independent bookstore in Peterborough, New Hampshire once. Recognized him from his cover flap photo and introduced myself. Seems like he's a nice guy too. All that talent, and he's cool.

This Web site says he's written 11 novels. Not true. I just counted mine. There are 12. He told me he was embarrassed to know that I'd read his first, but I searched coast to coast for it. I finally found it in a used book store in Oregon. It's not his best, but ya gotta start somewhere.

message 6: by John (new)

John Last fall, at a writer's conference of sorts, I was lucky enough to spend a weekend with Chris. He's a great guy--very likeable in person, and quite talented, obviously. I'm happy that his new novel is doing so well!

message 7: by Sandra (new)

Sandra A whole weekend, John! Wow! I live in Pennsylvania, and he came to my library a couple years ago during book week to give a talk. I still haven't gotten over the fact that I had to be out of town and missed him.

Do you go to a writer's conference every year?

Many congratulations on your books, award and how well they've done. I have to look into these.

Oh, my groaning shelves of stuff to read!

Jo (Bloomin'Chick) Thank you Chris for putting the spotlight on domestic violence and violence against women - it's not just Vermont's little dirty secret, it's our Country's and the World's dirty little secret. Book like this helps those of us who've survived continue to heal and help other survivors.

message 9: by Beryl (new)

Beryl Weidenbach I liked the interview very much! I have read almost all of Chris Bohjalian's books and look forward to each new one as it comes out. The current one, Secret's Of Eden, I will be listening to on audio.
The topic is certainly relevant to me right now!

message 10: by Mickie (new)

Mickie This is one of the best interviews I have ever read - on so many levels. It's like a succinct biography, a captivating and fast moving memoir. So many gems inside your answers. I especially like your description of "perfect happiness".

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