An Interview with Mitchell Anne Hagerstrom// Author of MISS GONE-OVERSEAS
1) Where were you born, where do you live now, and are you close to perfect swimming water?
Born in Iowa City, Iowa, now live in Austin, Texas. The famous Barton Springs is a stone’s throw but I hate cold water and have never done more than dip a toe in it. Just after dusk, when the summer temperatures exceed 110, the pool at my apartment complex feels just right, feels like silk.
2) What is your favorite smell?
Fresh sawdust at an East Texas lumber mill.
3) Tell us about your education and what you do now (jobs and hobbies).
My education has been from books lugged home from the public library. I was a mediocre student in grammar & high school – meaning I excelled in English and geography while flunking math and penmanship. When I finally went for my BA, I was in my early 30s and majored in English (reading books). Classes were small, teachers were excellent; going to classes was like going to a round of cocktail parties everyday – no smoking or drinking, but extremely lively discussions about very good books. I work in a public library – the pay keeps a roof over my head and the easy access to books keeps me in continuing-education mode.
4) Tell us about your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife. How did you meet? What is your favorite thing about him/her? How about your children (if you have children)? How about a dog or cat?
I’m a sucker for good writers. My current husband sat across from my younger brother in 9th grade – so I’ve known him that long, known him through his two previous wives. We got together through an email courtship – it was obvious right off that he’s a terrific writer, though our styles and interests are totally different. My daughter is my delight. We’re half a continent apart, but as close as phone & email allow.
5) Is ignorance bliss?
Probably. Why else do people watch reality shows on t.v. or read stacks of romance paperbacks (devouring them like a boxes of bon-bons) – to the exclusion of pursuits that require some brain-input? It may be bliss but it is certainly very selfish to refuse to educate oneself – the world will never be a better place if it’s entirely populated with dumb-asses.
6) How did you get interested in writing?
I got seriously interested when I went to a reading given by one of my teachers – I was gobsmacked by the emotional power of the words, words written by someone I actually knew. I wanted to do that, too. After I started writing I would occasionally go to the library and be unable to find anything I wanted. What I wanted was to read the book I was then writing.
7) How has your practice evolved over the course of time?
At first I wrote in longhand & then typed, and retyped, and then retyped some more, draft after draft, edit after edit. Computers make it all so much easier. But I still find it difficult to actually “finish” something – seems there is always a way to make it better.
8) What do you consider to be your greatest success?
Learning to cut my own hair.
9) Is there any thing that your family or friends would be surprised to learn about you?
Nothing would surprise family or friends, a lot would surprise acquaintances. However, I suspect all but a small number of intimate family & friends were surprised by this book.
10) What did you find out after finishing MISS GONE-OVERSEAS? What weren’t you expecting?
The book ends at a logical place, but I cannot let this character go. I’ve put what I thought would be my next project on hold and I’m working on a series of short stories that are related to the book. What I wasn’t expecting was the feedback from both male and female readers who do not normally read historical fictions: they fall in love with her – just like I have.