20 August

Author Spotlight (Part II): Hanna C. Howard

As we continue to celebrate the release of Ignite the Sun by Hanna C. Howard, we are featuring Part II of our interview with the author below.

Get your copy of Ignite the Sun HERE.

What makes this book special/unique, and why should readers be sure to place it on their TBR (To Be Read) list?

While the light and dark theme is frequently used in literature, it tends to be done in a figurative way, and Ignite sees a very literal use of light and darkness. And I know I’m a bit biased, but I’m very fond of the magic system in the book, and I think the idea of a sunchild—a being who is fueled, empowered, and reminiscent of the sun—is a really compelling and exciting one. I also love my characters, and Siria, my protagonist, reminds me of some of the teenage girls I know: Passionate, full of longing and hope, but also riddled with uncertainty, fear, and self-doubt as she faces a perilous world.

What kind of impact did writing Ignite The Sun have on you personally?

It’s been an incredibly long journey with this book—nearly ten years—and when I started my first draft I was suffering terribly from anxiety, depression, and SAD. In that sense, writing it has been a way of processing and working through my anxiety, as my main character experiences something similar at times. But the long road from first draft to publication has also taught me the value and the vital necessity of perseverance. I have believed in and loved this story for so long, and I think being faithful to it through some really hard stuff (mental illness, rejection, the loss of my dad to cancer) as well as some beautiful things (my marriage and the birth of my son) has engrained in me the invaluable and intrinsic place of story in my life, and shown me what I am capable of. 

How are you reflected in Ignite the Sun (or, how much of you is reflected in the book)?

Well, I mentioned the anxiety and SAD, which I think you see in Siria. And I’m sure there is a part of me in all of my characters (though not intentionally). I think, though, that the biggest reflection of me in Ignite is the thematic yearning for the sunlight, and for the life that it brings. I have traditionally hated the winter (though that’s changed a bit as I’ve gotten older and begun to appreciate the value of chunky sweaters, scented candles, and cozy evenings with whisky or tea), and spring has always felt to me like an enormous, gulping breath of fresh air when it finally arrives. Dawn, too, is my favorite time of day, and in some ways Ignite is just one, long, metaphorical night—until the end, when the sunrise finally breaks. That’s a reflection of me and my values.

What is your favorite thing to do to promote your book?

The world of COVID has changed everything, of course, but my most-used platform for book promotion is probably Instagram, since you can tell stories in your captions that make it more personal. However, my hands-down favorite way to receive or deliver any kind of recommendation is in person. Nothing beats a spoken book rec from someone whose opinion you trust. So if you read and like this book (or any book!) the best favor you can do the author is to tell other people to read it.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned while being a writer?

Never give up. Ever. If you love writing and you want to share it with other people, keep at it. Rejection is just a part of the game, and it’s up to you to take the criticism you hear (constructive or not) and learn something from it. Always be working on getting better, always seek to learn and grow, always keep writing. And: Never. Give. Up.

Any additional thoughts?

Thanks for having me! And to you readers, thanks for following along, and I hope you’ll pick up Ignite!