Here are some questions that readers ask me about Hannah West.
Sometimes they ask me other things, too.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHERE HANNAH WILL LIVE?
I like the settings to be a little bit urban and have stores and bus routes within easy walking distance of where Hannah and her mom are house-sitting. It also has to be an area with good croissants and decent coffee, as I will need to spend a lot of time exploring and walking around the neighborhood.
WILL YOU SET A MYSTERY IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD?
Maybe. The next location is under investigation. I’ve heard Ballard and Columbia City (neighborhoods in Seattle) might need Hannah’s expert sleuthing skills.
ARE THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE HOUSES WHERE HANNAH HOUSE-SITS REAL?
No, they aren’t real people. But the made-up people are named after real dogs.
WHAT??? THEY’RE DOGS?
Yes. Each homeowner is named after a dog from one of my favorite families. Owen Henderson is named after my dog; Jake Heard is named after my sister Nancy’s dog; Piper Christenson is named after my friend Lee’s dog.
ARE THE DOGS IN THE BOOKS REAL?
Sort of. At least they’re inspired by real dogs. Ruff (in Belltown Towers) is based on the real-life Ruff that my sister and I had when we were growing up. Mango (in Deep Water) is based on a real-life labradoodle named Mango who lives in Bend, Oregon. Elvis, one of the dogs in The Center of the Universe, has the same personality and mannerisms as our family’s basset hound.
ARE THE LOCATIONS IN THE HANNAH WEST BOOKS REAL?
Yes! Well, most of them, anyway. In Hannah West in the Center of the Universe, there are several well-known landmarks, like the Troll, the Lenin statue, Caper’s, Costa’s Opa Greek Restaurant, and Blue C Sushi. But the Perfect Pet and Joe’s Special are made up.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?
THAT’S NOT VERY HELPFUL. MY TEACHER SAID THIS WOULD BE A GOOD QUESTION TO ASK.
My apologies to teachers, but it seems to me that every time a student asks this question, it is either a teacher (or maybe a parent) who suggests this will be a great question. I don’t know what they hope to hear – maybe that there’s a book you can get from the library that has unlimited ideas. In my opinion, the best ways to jumpstart ideas (and it is a jumpstart, because the ideas are probably in your head, you just need to get to them):
- stare out windows
ARE YOU WRITING ANOTHER HANNAH WEST BOOK?
Not right now. The series was intended to have four books. But I’m quite fond of Hannah and think that there could soon be a time when her help is needed solving a mystery somewhere in Seattle.
ARE YOU WRITING ANOTHER KIND OF BOOK?
Yes! I’m almost finished writing another novel, aimed at the same age group. The main character’s name is Lena Delgado. It took me forever to settle on her name, so I wanted to say it here publicly. That way I’ll stick with it.