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Author Tue Sep 24 2013

Who to Read Next: Local Author Hannah Pittard

"It was like swimming with a whale shark."

This is how Hannah Pittard describes learning that her first novel, The Fates Will Find Their Way, (Ecco, 2011) was being published. Sounds dangerous, but Pittard is a dangerously talented writer.

Fates tells the story of a missing teenage suburban girl and the group of neighborhood boys who becomes enraptured by her disappearance. It's been compared to The Lovely Bones and The Virgin Suicides (not bad, especially for a first novel).

Pittard's fiction has won several awards. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago, got her MFA at the University of Virginia, teaches at DePaul, and is currently at work on her second novel, Reunion, (Grand Central) out in 2014. Read on, and get to know Hannah Pittard.

Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia
Star sign: Sagittarius

What drives you to write?

A feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling in my chest. You know that time of night when it's pink? It's not every night, but some nights there's this pinkness in the air and I can feel it my chest -- this bigness, this need to capture it. Which isn't to say I'm trying to capture the night or its beauty. There's just a similarity between that feeling of pinkness and the need to write.

Do you read other books while you're writing? Why or why not?

Yes! I read other books. I have to. I need to know that what I'm after is possible. I would never have made it through Fates without Bright Lights, Big City or A Gate at the Stairs. Similarly, I would never have made it through my current novel without My New American Life or Financial Lives of Poets.

Have any writing rituals you're not too embarrassed to share?

I like things to be very clean. What else? A large chunk of Fates was written with the NBA playoffs happening in the background. I like the noise. And an even larger chunk of Reunion was written in bed. But the bed was made. It's not like I was hanging out in sweatpants in an unmade bed, writing. I wasn't. I was hanging out in sweatpants in a tidily made bed, writing.

Describe the feeling of learning Fates was being published.

It was a lot like swimming with a whale shark (which I did once) or finishing a marathon (which I did twice). The feeling was unreal. Best day(s) of my life. (Getting married to the love of my life was also a pretty good day...)

Which novel, out of all the novels you've ever read, do you wish you had written?

Can I choose three? The Sportswriter. Anagrams. Lolita. In no particular order. Any of those would put me at ease.

What's great about being a writer in Chicago? What could be better?

I can't tell -- is this question its own answer? What could be better? Not much!

What do you do when you're not writing?

Walk the dog. Teach. Walk the dog. Teach. Fold clothes. Teach. Walk the dog. Eat. Eat. Eat. Fold clothes. Walk the dog. Teach. Walk the dog. Walk the dog. Read. Read. Read.

If you could choose any other profession, no holds barred, what would it be and why?

So embarrassing: In another life, I'd like to have been a stand-up.

Social media (as a writer): love it or hate it?

Hate it. But I'm trying - reluctantly - to get on board. I have a Twitter account (@hannahpittard). You should follow me. I have almost zero followers. It's a lonely place, Twitter is.

Tell us about your upcoming second novel, Reunion.

Four days in the life of Kate Pulaski. There's suicide, infidelity, debt, and lots of mendacity. Classic feel-good novel. Best of all, it features a highly unlikeable female protagonist.


Catch Pittard reading on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 6pm at Brando's Speakeasy as part of the Chicago Writer's Conference (you don't have to have registered for the conference to attend this event).

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