Reverse Author Interview — Hilary Wiesman Graham

April 12, 2013 Interview 4


I’m participating in the Reverse Author Interviews meme sponsored by Book Munchies. It’s the authors’ turn to put us on the spot!  Over the next month, a series of authors will pose questions for participating bloggers to answer.

Today’s author is Hilary Wiesman Graham.  Graham is a filmmaker, screenwriter, and author of Reunited, a contemporary YA novel released last June by Simon and Schuster.  

Hilary: If you are a fan of a certain genre, do you ever get bored by the conventions of that genre, such as the inhumane society that always exists in Dystopian fiction, or the plots in Romance novels, where the girl always ends up getting the boy? 

Lark (Bookwyrm’s Hoard): That’s an interesting question, because the conventions you use as examples are actually the defining characteristics of the genre.  If the society isn’t bad, it’s not a dystopian novel by definition.  If the couple don’t end up together, it’s not a romance.  (It may be romantic, but it’s not a romance novel.)  So I’d have to say that no, I don’t get tired of the conventions of genres I love; if I did, I guess I wouldn’t be a fan anymore!  

On the other hand, I do get tired of some of the conventions within genres — not the ones that define the genre, but the ones that have become common within it.  For example, I sometimes get tired of the dark, brooding, wounded hero trope in romances.  I occasionally get annoyed by all the fantasies featuring a boy or girl who turns out to be special/unique and destined to save the world (or some portion thereof.)  Only sometimes, of course!  If the author can really sell me on it, and they have enough original ideas or fantastic writing, I’m fine with the chosen-one plot.  (Example: the Harry Potter books.  Yes, Harry is a “chosen one”, but Rowland pulls it off brilliantly, and I love them.)

Recently I’ve become really fed up with gratuitous love triangles in YA.  I can deal with a triangle if it’s really crucial to the plot and makes sense with all three characters.  (Though I still get annoyed with characters who can’t make up their minds which boy they like best.)  But lately it seems to me that some authors put in a triangle because they’re popular with readers, rather than because the book really needs it.  C’mon, folks, find some other way to create conflict and tension.  Be creative!  

Hilary:  What’s more likely to get you hooked in a book–plot or character? 

Lark: Usually character.  When I was in my teens, I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (it was only a trilogy at that point.)  Long on plot and ideas, short on real characterization, except here and there.  And I definitely liked the “here and there” sections best.  The rest felt dry, because I couldn’t relate to the characters.  If a book doesn’t have interesting characters — characters I can believe in and care about — I’m not likely to enjoy the book.

That said, a book definitely needs to have some plot, or at least some interesting episodes! The most interesting characters in the world would be boring if all they did was sit around doing nothing… or doing something totally pointless. 

Hilary:Does a book need to have a love story in it for you to like it? 

Lark: No — but it helps!  Seriously, I’ve certainly read and loved books that didn’t have a love story.  It’s not a deal-breaker.  But I do enjoy a love story, even just a hint of one. 

Hilary: Do you ever get “series fatigue,” or do you prefer reading books that are part of a series because you get to spend more time with characters you love? 

Lark: Great question!  My first reaction was “of course I don’t get series fatigue”, because I do love reading series and revisiting people I’ve come to know and like.  But thinking about it, I would have to answer “yes.”  I get series fatigue when I feel like the author is getting series fatigue.  When the books just don’t have the same spark anymore, or feel churned out to meet a contract obligation or a deadline, then I start to get disenchanted with a series.  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten series fatigue toward a series where the writing quality stayed high and the author was still in love with and excited about the stories and the characters.

My thanks to Hilary for her interesting questions, and to Book Munchies for sponsoring this meme.  I’m having fun with it — I hope you are, too!

4 Responses to “Reverse Author Interview — Hilary Wiesman Graham”

  1. Victoria Hooper

    Great answers! I agree with you about the conventions of genre. At the most basic level, the conventions are what make the genre and why you read that genre if you’re a fan, but it’s the repeated ideas within the genre that can get really old. Having said that, sometimes a book defies even the basic conventions of a genre and still manages to pull it off. That can be really fun if the author does it well enough.

    Love your point about series as well. You can totally tell if an author has got tired of their own series and is just keeping it going for the sake of it.

    Oh, and I know exactly what you mean about the Foundation books! 🙂

    • Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

      Thank you, Victoria! Yes, that’s exactly the point I was trying to make about genre conventions. And you’re right; some of the best books successfully break the conventions.