Many thanks to author Kevin Hansen for taking the time for an interview with us at the Book Pound. Kevin Hansen has recently published a historical novel called The Restoration of Jonah. It's available in paperback and Kindle format. If you're interested in history, this is a story for you. Read on for Kevin Hansen's thoughtful insights into reading, writing, and life.
The Restoration of Jonah is a historical novel. How did you become so interested in history? Did you study history in school?
I really became interested in history through the stories of my own family and my grandmother who was born in England. Even as a young boy I was fascinated by history. I collected stamps and old coins, and at the age of 8 or 9 thought for sure that I would someday discover a buried treasure. I had dreams of being Indiana Jones before Indiana Jones. My father was an avid genealogist and I was very interested in the pedigree charts that he had and I was always looking them over. One day I had been reading a biography about George Washington and some of the dates that correlated to him also paralleled the lives of some of my ancestors who lived in Boston at the time. For whatever reason it struck me at that moment that my ancestors lived while George Washington was the president and that fascinated me and that drove me to know more and more about what was happening in history while my ancestors were alive. It really made me appreciate who they were and the events they lived through.
I studied history in college, but it was more as electives and some core classes. I think the classes I appreciated the most were the history of Art or Music, while looking at the context each had with the history of the world in which the artists or composers lived. Knowing that a German relative lived during the life of Beethoven, or that a Dutch family member lived while Vermeer was painting was fascinating and powerful to me.
Why did you choose England as the setting for The Restoration of Jonah?
I am someone who wants to see things in the big perspective. I ran across a map book of England in a used bookstore. Each page was 2 miles by 3 miles with a crazy amount of detail. I wanted to see how it all fit together so one day at work I photocopied each page and took them home and spliced them all together with clear packing tape. The map was huge, probably 10 feet wide by 15 feet tall.
Who is your favorite character in The Restoration of Jonah? What is it you like so much about this character?
I would have to say that Jonah is my favorite character for a couple different reasons. First of all, Jonah is me, at least a big part of who I am but more importantly, who I want to become. I began writing the story a couple years after my divorce and was in counseling. As I began to write and then re-read what I had just finished, I saw in the writing my subconscious putting on paper the issues of my own life. It would hit me like a ton of bricks as I started to see how there were issues in my own life that needed some correction. It became very therapeutic for me. Jonah has all of the characteristic in a person that I think are so important to have and I hope to master them at some point. Each character though has some important meaning for me. Almost every character is named for someone that I hold dear in my life and I tried to honor them with some form of recognition.
How has writing fiction affected your life? Do you find it to be difficult? Healing? Motivating? Something else?
Writing fiction is a great way to allow my creative brain get out the stories that are bottled up inside but also a way to get out issues of my life. Once I began to understand how to describe a scene and paint the picture for the reader, I think writing really took off for me. There were nights shortly after starting to write that I would come home from work on a Friday night and start writing at 7pm and might not finish until 2 or 3 am. I really became addicted to the story and couldn't wait to wake up the next day or come home from work to continue writing.
I also write by hand with a pen and paper. I really find that the story is more thoughtful, organic and descriptive when I write by hand. Now as I see things in life I look at them with a perspective of "how would I tell that story." Because of that I have a number of great stories that I am working on and a few more with the concepts written out.
Sports have been a big part of your life. Do you find there is a connection for you between writing and sports? Do they complement each other in any way?
I do love sports. I went to college to study journalism with the dream to be a sportscaster. I have had to shift my writing skills from a shortened 2-3 minutes news story to a lot more open and descriptive writing flow. As far as how sports and writing fit together, each book has a bit of flavor of my favorite team. For example, The Restoration of Jonah has slivers of the Los Angeles Dodgers in it and one of the books I am writing now has references to the University of Nebraska football team. I can see as I continue to write there will be little references to my favorite teams and players in each story, and I could see in my future a sports specific story.
What advice would you give to writers who are just starting out, particularly to writers of historical fiction?
The advice I would give a new writer, and someone who wants to write historical fiction, would be to just start writing. Spend the time necessary to research your topic, but allow your creative mind to fill in the gaps. As I began The Restoration of Jonah I had certain characters in history that I would introduce to the story. There are a lot of truths in the characters and the events of their real lives in the story, but there are times that you have to use a bit of artistic license to bridge the gap from reality to fiction. I would suggest that you know as much about your topic as possible and then when necessary have some fun with the rest. About half way through writing the book a friend suggested that I go to England to see exactly what I was writing about. I don't think that is something I would do. I wouldn't want my brain to feel constrained by having to write exactly as I saw something. Know enough, but let your imagination go.
Is there anything else you would like to say to Book Pound readers? Can they contact you with questions or comments?
I would say that if you read The Restoration of Jonah with an open heart, you will discover that the story isn't just a treasure hunt story set in England and Scotland, but it is also the journey of a man that is searching also for something that we all crave in our lives and that is the power to look at ourselves in the mirror and be happy with the person that is looking back at us. Often times in our lives we focus on finding the person or the thing that we can add to our life that will make us happy, when in reality that can never happen without first fixing whom we are from the inside out. It is about letting wounds of the past be replaced by the effects of healing seeds in our lives. And for everyone those healing seeds could be completely different medicines. I think the readers will learn a bit about history, fun history I might add, some of my strange sense of humor, my romantic side and a lot about what makes me tick as a person.
I would be happy to answer questions about the book or how it has affected me and my life and some of the greater insights to some of the characters, places or things mentioned. Readers can contact me at kevin.
storyboardentertainment@gmail. com. I would be happy to skype or call anyone that has a book club or reading group.
Again, thank you to Kevin Hansen for making time for this interview.