Hannah Warren was born in Paris (Fr.) in 1956 as a second child to a Dutch father and an English mother. She has lived in The Netherlands almost all her life but has a strong connection with France, UK and Holland.
She studied Dutch literature and Mass communication at the University of Amsterdam and also obtained a B.A. in English Literature & Language and a B.A. in Translation from Rotterdam University. She currently works at the International Office of HZ University of Applied Sciences in Vlissingen.
Her free-time is taken up by writing fiction, teaching Yoga and pottering around in the garden. After having been a single mum for nearly two decades, her three children have flown the nest. The great sadness that befell Hannah in March 2014 was the loss of her eldest child, daughter Joy, who died after an intense two-year struggle against bile duct cancer. In time Hannah will launch a foundation for more research into this rare but deadly form of cancer.
From the early age of 8, Ms Warren has written poetry and short stories but it took her fifty years to become a published author.
Her debut novel, the literary romance Casablanca, My Heart was initially published by Taylor Street Publishing (When The Ink Dries) in 2012 and relaunched in June 2014 by Hannah's new publisher Thorstruck Press. Her second novel, the psychological thriller The Cottage on the Border will be out soon. The third novel, a historical family saga set in south Sweden and called Daughter of the Alvar is in production.
- What sparked your interest in writing? Your proverbial light-bulb moment?
Classic type of enlightenment, actually. The 7-year old getting hold of an Enid Blyton novel and after the first THE END picking up a pen to write her own over-the-top adventure story, including several pairs of twins and multiple dogs.
- I think we all have an over the top story somewhere! Which genre are you most comfortable writing in?
I consider myself a multi-genre writer as I've dabbled in romance, suspense, family saga, children’s stories, poetry and recently even fantasy. But in my heart of hearts, I think I’m a suspense writer.
- Would you say you draw most often from your own knowledge base when writing or do you research for fresh material?
I have an idea for a story to start off with and then I research as I go along. Wouldn't know what to do without the Internet to check and double check all sorts of facts and ideas. A treasure trove.
- Agreed! The internet is our go-to place :) Tell us a bit about your work. How, for instance, do you choose your titles?
The title comes first, then I start writing but I've found myself changing titles in all phases of the work in progress. Generally, I only have a vague idea which way the story is developing so together with my characters I go through a lot of surprising turns and twists. With the exception of The Cottage on The Border, the psychological thriller that Thorstruck will publish in November. This novel came as a clear and complete story to me in a dream.
- We love to read excerpts. Share with us your favourite bit of writing from you latest book.
As Casablanca, My Heart was first published in 2012 I already used quite some excerpts in different interviews and now suddenly realise that I usually take snippets from the first part of the book, Heather’s point of view. The book consists of two parts, one is told by the female MC and the second part by the male. So let’s choose something from Ghalib’s story, our Moroccan aristocrat and playboy.
I listen to the rapid pattern of Heather’s sandals on the tiles in the hall and hear the resounding bang when the front door shuts behind her, echoing through the empty house.
Irritated, I grab my cigar case, only to find it completely empty. I fling the thing across the room where it hits the ugly marble statue of one of the Vestal Virgins and drops to the floor, dented. The marble remains as smooth as ever, for some reason reminding me of Amanda’s skin. Come to think of it, she is like that statue, no wonder she gave the damn thing to me as a birthday present. Damn women!
Melissa’s voice on the phone had also annoyed me. And of all the times for her to call! With that habitual sly sort of apologetic ring her soft slurry voice always carried, she hesitantly informed me that we had been discovered. Damn them all! Cursing, I stomp to my bedroom on the first floor.
I pick up the home phone and shout into it. “Latifa, get my car ready to take me to the airport immediately. Yes, Paris. Tonight!” I adjust my clothes and comb my hair. A whiff of recent lovemaking wafts through my nose, but I ignore it.
“I’ve had it with women! All of them! To hell with the whole female race!”
My mobile starts ringing and I see it is Amanda. I ignore it and the voicemail that rings soon after. I am not going back to the ship. Maybe I will let her know tonight. Let her miss me for once, although I doubt she will now that she has Tony around. He will make up for my absence. He knows how to do that very well.
Comfort, comfort. How we seek comfort from our emptiness! We think we are entitled to it, that people owe us comfort. Hell, we have been like this for ages. Why, for heaven’s sake, do we stay married? Then again, why not? I’m not looking forward to going through another divorce hassle, certainly not with cold-blooded Amanda. She may seem sweet and lovely, but she will rip me apart if she can. Maybe literally, with those rock-hard fake nails of hers, which cost me a fortune every month. She knows I know, so for now we are keeping the balance as it is.
- Love it and can't wait to read it! Who do you identify with most in your work? And why?
I feel quite detached from my characters. I fly over them in my helicopter, from where I register their actions, voices, thoughts, movements, future, present and past. I made the beginner’s ‘mistake’ to write Casablanca, My Heart in first person and had reviewers commenting on me doing this or that and I was flabbergasted. My life is nothing like Heather Simpson’s but then again how can readers know that? No more first person novels for me. J
7. If you could choose who would play Heather in the movie or series made from your work, who would it be?
Femmy Lovecraft aka Heather Simpson played by Lotte Verbeek, a Dutch actress, a rising star according to me. (Borgias, Outlander).
- Which four words would you use to describe yourself?
Sorely tried, emphatic, humorous, imaginative.
- Which four words would you use to describe your work?
Soulful, visual, lyrical, engrossing.
- I have to throw this in! That list of favourites we’re all interested in!
Favourite book: Anna Karenina
Favourite movie: The Hours
Favourite TV series: Downtown Abbey
Favourite colour: sea-green
Favourite food: fish & chips
Favourite drink: tea, white wine
Favourite pet: dog
Favourite season: spring
Favourite place: Öland, Sweden
- Often personal fame and prominence for your work go together, but frequently authors prefer remaining in the background while hoping their work will assume the limelight. Is this true for you, or don’t you mind a bit of fame?
I wouldn't mind a bit of fame at all as long as it brought in the dough. After all, a writer can remain relatively anonymous as her face isn't photographed all the time. And being a woman of imagination it must be possible to create multiple personalities to stay out of the limelight.
- Like the sound of that! Tell us about your next book (we love to know what to look forward to!).
I've already mentioned The Cottage on the Border a few times in this interview and I really, really can’t wait for it to be published. I have high hopes for this one. Casablanca, My Heart was me testing the waters of authorship but in this thriller I show (hopefully) what I’m capable of as a story-teller.
A short intro…
Jenna Kroon de Coligny is the estranged, adopted daughter of the farmer’s couple Theo and Dora Van Son and foster sister to Vincent, who is six years her senior. She is of aristocratic birth but knows very little about her background. She has never known her father. Her ‘hippy-mother’ Marcia killed herself when Jenna was three years old. Jenna’s maternal grand-parents pay the Van Sons for her upbringing but do not want to acquaint themselves with their ‘bastard’ grand-daughter. Jenna has always suffered from mood swings and has an eating disorder.
Since the age of twelve she has lived away from her foster family to go to boarding school to train as a professional dancer. At nineteen (the start of the book) her dance career and her love life have fallen to shambles and she tries to kill herself. She ends up in an Amsterdam hospital but to prevent herself from being sent to a psychiatric ward, she agrees to a visit from her brother Vincent, who is an apprentice-psychiatrist. They have not seen each other for seven years and for Jenna this is a forced reunion. They used to be close in the years after Jenna’s adoption when Vincent was the only one who could ‘calm’ Jenna. Hence, his longing to become a psychiatrist.
The house they rent for Jenna’s recovery and treatment close to the Belgian border appears to be haunted. From there the story develops that will take Jenna to ‘the underworld’. Will she be strong enough to face all her trials or will she have to become a cold-blooded killer like her father?
On macro-level, this psychological thriller follows the 20th century development from National-socialism to Neo-Nazism. On micro-level it is a story of redemption and an ode to a love that transcends blood-ties. The filial love of two foster children turns out to be stronger than the distorted family ties that make up Jenna’s past.
- It sounds like we can expect an emotional journey- looking forward to it and good luck! What comes next, besides a new book project? A holiday, an event?
Let’s not talk of that. I’ll be seeing the inside of hospitals more often than I care to think about right now.
- Our sympathies, Hannah, and stay strong. Finally, if you could choose one person, living or dead, you would like to meet, who would it be and what would you ask of that person?
My daughter Joy, who passed away at age 29 on 15 March 2014. I wouldn't ask her anything just want to hold her and hold her and hold her.
Hold her in your heart and your dreams, lovely Hannah, and know your friends and family think of you and support you. It was wonderful chatting to you. May you go from strength to strength on every front!
Heather Simpson takes a cruise to get away from her husband. Far away from judgmental eyes she meets Ghalib, a French-Moroccan aristocrat who seems to know everything about her and has been eager to meet her for years. When the ship docks in Casablanca, Ghalib invites this soulful author into his home and into his heart.
Returning from Morocco to every day life, Heather faces a dilemma. Sometimes it seems we are destined to meet the love of our life for only a fleeting moment, leaving us thinking, 'Did fate work so hard to bring us so little or is there more to come?'
This glorious romance will take you to the exotic, stranding you in love's oasis, feeling as if you too have captured the diaphanous emotion of soul-love, questioning your choices and your destiny.
Coming soon as an audio book as well!
Find out more about Hannah on her website and her Thorstruck Author Page and connect with her on her Facebook Page and twitter.