Thursday 6 January 2011

Dancing With Myself: HANNAH DENNISON interviews HANNAH DENNISON

The other day, I had cause to go looking for a line in Megan Abbott's 'Die A Little'. The passage was so sumptuous that I had to read the whole book, thought maybe I'd learn something, pick up a few tips. The only tips I came out with were a) write brilliantly and b) read more Megan Abbott. And so it goes.

Other news is that I have my Kindle. I already have enough material to keep me busy all year, but that's not going to stop me looking. I transfered the things I had on my computer, Chris Holmes' awesome '8 pounds', 'Terminal Damage', 'Discount Noir' et al, then went straight to 'Katja From The Punk Band' at Amazon. I reckon that Katja's about the hottest book on the planet right now and I can't wait to get to it later today. The great news is that the author Simon Logan has done an interview for Sea Minor and will be Dancing With Himself in the middle of February; watch this space.

The opening lines?

'So she walks in, trying to look cool, trying to look like nothing has happened, like nothing has gone wrong, but it's difficult because she still feels the ghost of the revolver's handle pressed against her palm and the scent of gunpowder in her nostrils.'

You know what to do.

Today, our guest is British mystery author, Hannah Dennison.

Hannah, how long have you lived in Los Angeles?

I will have been here for 18 years this coming May. A terrifying fact given that I was only planning on staying for two.

You grew up in the English countryside, what made you want to move to the City of Angels?

After a decade, working as a flight attendant, I hung up my wings and decided it was time to follow the real dream I’d had since I was a child. Writing.

Is it true that Steven Spielberg had something to do with it?

I worked on private jets and spent some time with him on location for INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. During one our conversations, I let it slip that I really wanted to be a writer but it all seemed hopeless. He urged me to follow my passion and take a leap of faith.

That’s a very big leap! What did your husband think?

I didn’t have a husband at the time (although I do now). I was a single mother and dragged my poor 10-year old daughter and 2 cats along for the ride. I believe that if you really want something badly enough, miracles can happen. Now I look back, I must have been mad!

How did you get your green card?

First of all, I didn’t know I had to have one! I was that naive. When I found out, it was too late. I was already on my way. I hired an immigration attorney to help me and to cut a long story short I managed to get sponsored by New Line Cinema (now part of Warner Bros). However, I did have to prove I had a specific skill to earn that green card.

What was it?

Pitman Shorthand! Does anyone remember it? Before I was a flight attendant, I worked as a newspaper reporter for the Tiverton Gazette. Part of our training was learning to write shorthand—a kind of speedwriting. I can still write 120 words-per-minute with those lovely squiggles.

Aren’t the Vicky Hill Mysteries about a newspaper reporter?

Yes! Isn’t that ironic? I wrote the obituary column for the newspaper. It really was a dead end job. Who would have thought that all thirty years later it would become the basis for my murder series?

You worked in film for many years before switching to long form narrative.

Yes, I learned the craft of storytelling and read literally hundreds of scripts. I did “coverage” for many studios, independent producers and international film companies. I then enrolled in the UCLA Writers Program to study fiction writing. Actually, I’ll be teaching my first writing workshop for UCLA this semester.

By some standards you were published quickly – 4 books out in 3 years?

Maybe … but the saying “overnight success takes 15 years” holds true here. I moved to Los Angeles in 1993 and my first book was published in 2008.

What advice would you given aspiring writers?

Finish that first draft.

Your fourth book, Thieves! came out this month. Where can people find more information about Vicky Hill’s adventures?

Stop by my website, . You can also “friend” me on Facebook. My character Vicky Hill has her own Facebook page too. Thank you for talking to me today!

It’s been a pleasure.


  1. Glad you are digging the kindle. I have a nook and it is really doing it for me. Hannah's interview was really inspirational. She was actually able to pull off what I'm sure most of us dream of doing, and turned out so well for her. I love when I hear about stories like this.

  2. Sean, thank you for your lovely comment! I have to say I had many dark nights of the soul - but so far ... so good! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  3. What an adventuress! You are an inspiration.

  4. Not only a leap of faith but a leap of faith into that shark pool called Tinseltown. The lady's got as much right stuff as a moon rocket pilot with her tail surfaces on fire. That leap alone moves her right up to the top of my list. Thieves. Got it.

  5. You are right when you say it's a shark pool! I think it was a case of "ignorance is bliss." The one thing that stopped me from moving back to England .... were my cats!! I couldn't face putting them in quarantine (it used to be 6 months back then). Things are never quite what they seem are they! Thanks again for commenting.