Lori Hahnel on Nothing Sacred

Recently, I've been thinking about the first few lines of the story. Keeping a mental note of them now and thinking about how they fit into the remainder of the plot. It's all about how they entice the reader in. Lori has a fantastic lure for the reader in the beginning of the book. ~ biblio
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What do you think readers will find most notable about this book?

Readers have told me that they are struck by the ordinariness of the characters in Nothing Sacred. These characters are parents, daughters, sons, spouses, lovers. They work in retail, or in offices, or libraries. Many of them lead lives of quiet desperation. These people may seem ordinary, but I don’t think there are any ordinary lives. Everyone’s life contains the extraordinary to one degree or another.

Readers have also said that they never knew they liked short stories before reading my book, or that they’d never read a book of short stories before. I’ve talked to a few writer friends about this and we’ve concluded that a lot of people haven’t read a short story since high school. Their experience with the genre is “The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence or “Paul’s Case” by Willa Cather and that’s it. So maybe it comes as a surprise to some people that short stories can be contemporary.

Have you acquired any good anecdotes surrounding this book? If so, could you share one?

The book’s publisher, Thistledown Press, is located in Saskatoon and a local arts paper ran a piece on it along with my photo. My mother’s cousin, whom I have never met, lives in Saskatoon and was flipping through this paper when the photo caught her eye. Apparently she immediately thought that this person looked like her when she was younger. She recognized my last name and e-mailed my mom to ask if one of her daughters was a writer.

What would you most like readers to tell others about this book?

It would be great if they could continue to tell others that these are readable, enjoyable stories about the kinds of people you meet every day.

How can readers help you promote this book?

Ask for Nothing Sacred in local bookstores, both independent stores and chains. Word of mouth — talking to friends and family — also helps. They could buy copies for friends as gifts, or to share the book. And I am happy to make real or virtual visits to book club meetings or other types of gatherings if people would like me to read and talk about my work.

Does writing excite you, or do you view it as a necessary job?

Writing is exciting. I never fail to be amazed by the transformative experience that a story can be for both the writer and hopefully the reader. For instance, in writing a story you have the opportunity to change the outcome of something that happened in your own life, to something more satisfactory. Or at least something that makes some kind of sense. Really, how much fun is that?

You say that one of your strengths as a writer is the spareness with which you write. Did you develop this style over time, or was it natural to you from the beginning.

I once won a story contest with a 1,200-word limit. I had a story that was thematically perfect but was 2,800 words long. I managed to pare it down to 1,200 words without losing any characters or plot elements. That was very instructive for me. Less is more.

What else are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about the cinema. I’m also drawn to writing about film. Not so much the people who make films, though I have sometimes written about them, but about people who are fascinated with film, and about the effects that films have on people.

You’ve also written a novel. Do you plan to write more short stories?

Yes, I’m completing my second novel, and then I will be working on another collection of short stories.