Q&A With Rebecca Hanover

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Q&A With Rebecca Hanover 

Megan Beatie was not only kind enough to send me an early copy of The Last Applicant  by Rebecca Hanover, she also connected the two of us together for this Q&A. Rebecca Hanover’s The Last Applicant will be released on October 24th of this year. Rebecca is also the New York Times Bestselling author of The Similars  which is a young adult series. Rebecca was part of the writing team for CBS’s television series Guiding Light where she earned an Emmy. 

Q: Rebecca in the acknowledgements section that your idea for The Last Applicant came about while you and your friend were having coffee briefly speaking about preschool admissions and the idea never left you alone since then. Do the characters in The Last Applicant, especially Audrey and Sarah come from anyone you know?

A: They are probably me, in a lot of ways—my deepest fears, vices, and neuroses on the page! But for the most part, they’re completely fictional. Once the idea came to me for this story, and I really marinated on it, the two main protagonists made themselves very clear to me in terms of who they were, why they did what they did, and where they were going.

So the short answer is no, they are not based on anyone, though I absolutely mined my own dark corners to make them come alive.

Q: How long did it take you to write The Last Applicant? How long does it normally take for you to write a book? 

A: It’s different every time, although I’m starting to find some patterns and home in a process that works best for me, one that I hope will be my working process from here on out! I’m a big outliner, a total plotter, so it’s essential for me to get my outline squared away before I start writing. I’m all about SAVE THE CAT, and I’m religious about my structure being “right” (or at least, eighty percent right. Things always shift and change, ultimately, but I need to know where the novel starts and where it ends, before I draft it). This novel took about a year to write from start to finish. Maybe nine months! I had a strong vision for it before I began, so that helped a lot. With a busy life including three young-ish kids, I’m also finding that getting into the deep work “zone” requires me to put a lot of things on hold when I’m in the middle of getting the story on the page. How that looks, from a practical standpoint, is something I’m still figuring out.

Q: Before you became an author you were on the writing team of CBS’s Guiding Light television series. How did it feel being a part of the writing team and eventually winning an Emmy? It all sounds so impressive! 

A: It was a complete dream job, and honestly, I was really lucky to have the opportunity to write on that show in the first place. I worked first as an intern, then a writers’ assistant, and I fell in love with it—I spent all my free time banging out sample scripts in hopes I’d get a chance to actually write a real episode. When I did finally get to join the writing team, I learned some of the most invaluable lessons from the senior writers. Skills I still draw on today that help me create well-rounded characters and ratchet up the suspense in my books. The Emmy that our team of thirteen writers won was an out-of-body experience, for sure!

Q: You wrote The Similars young adult series and The Last Applicant is your debut adult novel. Was the transition from writing books for young adults to adult an easy one? 

A: It felt like using a slightly different muscle, and it definitely stretched me to a more vulnerable place! The characters in this novel are drawn more from my actual life and experiences over the last decade since having kids. Even though they’re pure fiction—truly!—a lot of their fears, neuroses, and fantasies are things I relate to. The actual writing process, in that way, felt a lot more emotional for me, like pouring some piece of my soul onto the page. Especially given the topic; parenting is something I think about all the time, and not just the day-to-day of it, but also the bigger picture “what is the meaning of it all?”

After sharing the book with friends for the first time, I felt a lot more nervous about their reactions than I had with my YA books. It’s actually been really freeing to see friends react to it the way they would to any other book; I think most of them seem to forget that I wrote it once they dive in, which is exactly how it should be.

Q: Who would be your ideal cast to play the characters in The Last Applicant & The Similars series if Hollywood were to get their hands on the rights? (If they haven’t already lol) 

A: Aubrey Plaza as Audrey, and Emma Stone as Sarah? I always see Sarah as a redhead… I’m getting goosebumps just imagining it. As for THE SIMILARS, I think CODA actress Emilia Jones would be a kick-ass Emma.

Q: Are you currently writing your next novel now, if so can you reveal any details about it?

A: Only that it’s another domestic suspense! Different world, different characters, but hopefully the same high stakes emotional drive.