Earlier this year, Hannah Pittard drove from Chicago, where
she teaches creative writing at DePaul University, to Milwaukee to promote her
debut novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way. She sat down to talk with me about
her book and her writing process. (You can find the full interview in the
September issue, which is out now.) I was struck by the way Hannah captivated
the group who came for her reading at Boswell Book Company, and later, when I
transcribed the interview, it hit me how she had me laughing throughout our
chat. I’ve decided that an author on tour really needs to bring along her sense
of humor to engage potential readers. Heaven help you if you don’t!
Here are a few nuggets from Hannah that didn’t make it into the
On reading slowly:
I read [at] about the pace that you would read aloud. I’ve
talked to a lot of writers, and of course there are writers who are very fast
readers, but I’m surprised how many people confess that they were always slow
readers [like I was], that it was something about needing to see every single
word, and needing to see the construction.
On why she’s not her own ideal reader:
Because I can’t see the problems that there are. It’s just
as simple as that. I can so easily diagnose my students’ writing, my peers’
writing, my friends who are also writers—I feel like I can diagnose pretty
quickly what the issues are—but with mine, I cannot see it. I think most
On Lorrie Moore:
She’s so smart, and she’s so funny, and she has this
incredible ability to make the reader feel just as smart and funny as she is,
even as I know I’m not as clever. I still feel as clever when I’m reading her,
and I really admire that, because there are writers who make you feel left out and
make you feel like you’re the butt of the joke. And for as smart as she is, she
never makes me feel left out. I always feel like I am in on the joke with her,
even as she’s making fun of everyone else. And I’ve talked to other people, and
it seems like other people have that feeling, too. She’s just very accessible.
On her penmanship:
[Growing up] I hated my handwriting so much, and I wanted it
to look perfect and be pristine. I would be given these beautiful, gorgeous
journals, and I would see my handwriting on them, and think, “This is
disgusting.” My brother and sister both have incredible handwriting.
Especially, my bother, for a man, has beautiful handwriting. My sister’s is
just exquisite, and mine is the handwriting of a child. I have the handwriting
of a 12-year-old boy. Still.
On writing routines:
I wish I had a schedule. I had a friend at UVA who swore up
and down … that every day he woke up at 6:00, toasted a bagel, brewed coffee,
ate a bagel, drank his coffee, and sat at the table for four hours and
wrote—and then had lunch, and then walked his dog, and then did the same thing
in the afternoon. And I would say, “No, you didn’t, no, you don’t. It’s not
true, nobody does that.” And, thankfully, I’ve matured a little bit, and I see
that some people do that, and I am very envious of the people who can do that.
I cannot. … Maybe the more mature I get, the older I get, the more routine
there will be.
C. Lange, associate editor