Please welcome Hannah Whitten to The Qwillery as part of the 2021 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. For the Wolf is published on June 1, 2021 by Orbit.
Please join The Qwillery in wishing Hannah a Happy Book Birthday!
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece you remember writing?
Hannah: I wrote a mystery about a horse thief in a composition notebook when I was ten—I was reading a LOT of The Saddle Club. After that, I attempted an epic that was basically self-insert Lord of the Rings fanfiction.
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
Hannah: Mostly hybrid, though the more I write the more I find myself becoming a plotter. Generally, I'll write on an idea until my excitement runs out of steam or I'm not sure what to do next, then go back and plot the whole thing. I don't keep to super-rigid outlines, though, because leaving myself room for discovery is how I come up with a lot of my best stuff!
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Hannah: Trying to make what ends up on the page look like what I see in my head.
TQ: What has influenced / influences your writing?
TQ: Tell us something about For the Wolf that is not found in the book description.
Hannah: Red's cloak becomes an extremely significant plot point!
TQ: What inspired you to write For the Wolf? What appeals to you about writing Fantasy?
Hannah: I've always read and written fantasy mostly for an escape, but with WOLF, I knew I wanted to twist around a bunch of fairytales that have ham-fisted messages about "purity" and make them about choice and consent and agency instead.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for For the Wolf?
Hannah: I read a LOT of fairytale retellings, especially The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter—I returned to that one often just to see how she'd taken the themes of the tales she was retelling and twisted them on their axes.
TQ: Please tell us about the cover for For the Wolf.
Hannah: The cover was designed by Lisa Marie Pompilio, and it's absolutely perfect. We wanted something that was simple but very textured, like an illustration from an old book of fairytales, and she did it wonderfully. The small dagger on the front is very significant, and so are the tree roots encroaching across the bottom of the entire jacket. I loved the art so much that I got the wolf figure from the spine and chapter headers tattooed!
TQ: In For the Wolf who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
Hannah: The easiest was probably Eammon. I related to him a lot, and his personality came to me very easily. I also found it pretty simple to understand what he wanted, and how he would react to things. Neve was the hardest, weirdly for similar reasons. She's the character I relate to the most, and also the one who makes arguably the worst decisions throughout the book. Figuring out how to make her follow along with the plot I needed while also making her actions understandable—essentially, figuring out how to write her so she was justified—was difficult, but ultimately really rewarding.
TQ: Does For the Wolf touch on any social issues?
Hannah: Consent plays a huge role in the plot, and also personal agency in general, which I think is a social issue!
TQ: Which question about For the Wolf do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
Hannah: Give us some non-book comp titles! What does For the Wolf feel like?
Dashboard Confessional's entire discography, the slant of light through the trees at sunset, the first bite of fall in the air, the little ache you feel driving through a place you used to live.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from For the Wolf.
Hannah: "Hope, you know? It's like a boot that won't break in. Hurts to walk in it, hurts worse to stand still."
TQ: What's next?
Hannah: FOR THE THRONE, the sequel to WOLF that follows Neve's story, comes out in June 2022! After that, I hope to have lots more books about angry girls making questionable decisions to share!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Hannah: Thanks for having me!
For the Wolf
The Wilderwood 1
Orbit, June 1, 2021
Trade Paperback and eBook, 480 pages
The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.
For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark, sweeping debut fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn't the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.
“A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in epic fantasy”—Kirkus (starred review)
As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose—to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.
Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.
But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood—and her world—whole.
"A brilliant dark fantasy debut!" —Jodi Picoult, NYT bestselling author
HANNAH WHITTEN has been writing to amuse herself since she could hold a pen, and sometime in high school, she figured out that what amused her might also amuse others. When she's not writing, she's reading, making music, or attempting to bake. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and children in a house ruled by a temperamental cat.