NoNieqa: After reading Hanah Shield’s review of my novel THE DISTURBED GIRL’S DICTIONARY in the San Antonio Express-News, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to discover her age. https://www.expressnews.com/entertainment/arts-culture/books/article/The-very-definition-of-an-emotionally-unstable-12713300.php. If the year 2018 has shown us anything, it’s that teenagers can be eloquent, articulate, knowledgeable and powerful instigators of social change. Hanah’s writing inspired my literary agent Emily Keyes to say, “Hire that Kid. I would represent her book.” I am honored that she agreed to be interviewed on my blog!
Hanah: I am so flattered to hear that both you and Ms. Keyes enjoyed my writing! I do believe that we live in the perfect era for teens to start speaking their minds and expressing their opinions in an intelligent and thought-provoking way. Recently I’ve been seeing so many of my peers (both online and in real life) stand up for what they believe in, especially since the events in Parkland, and it’s been incredibly inspiring to see the effect young voices can have on today’s social issues.
NoNieqa: Hanah, do your primarily write nonfiction? Have you explored writing fiction?
Hanah: While I do mostly nonfiction for the Express-News, fiction and poetry are actually my favorite genres to write. I find it easier to write poems, but recently I’ve been trying out more short stories with my school’s literary magazine and hope to someday move on to novel-writing.
NoNieqa: Tell us about your background and family. What are your passions? What are your goals? What is a message you want to project into the world?
Hanah: My dad is retired military and my mom is from Japan, so I’ve had the opportunity to live in and see a lot of different places. I’ve loved reading since day one, but recently I’ve really gotten into foreign languages and linguistics. (I’ve been trying to teach myself Norwegian for a few months now just for fun, and it’s been . . . interesting. And kind of hard.) Aside from academics, I’ve been a synchronized swimmer for the past eight years, which is how I’ve made most of my closest friends.
As a biracial Asian American woman, I’m really passionate about diversity and representation of all kinds in popular media and the entertainment industry, which was one of the reasons that The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary really spoke to me. I think it’s so important for kids from all walks of life to be able to see characters and role models they can relate to whenever they step into a bookstore or movie theater.
NoNieqa: Please describe your writing journey. When did you start writing for pleasure? How have you honed your craft? How did you become connected with the San Antonio Express- News? Are there any other places we can find your publications? To where do you aspire to publish in the future?
Hanah: While I’ve always, always loved reading, it was not the same case with writing. I despised writing at school until the fourth grade, when state standardized testing required us to start exploring new forms like personal narratives. After a few reluctant essays, I realized I was actually quite good at writing. Once I reached middle school, I started to really enjoy the creative prompts given to me by my English teachers, and then a family friend of mine helped me get my first review with the San Antonio Express-News.
My high school’s Creative Writing/Literary Magazine program has definitely had the greatest positive influence on my writing. My amazing classmates and teacher are constantly pushing me and inspiring me to make my writing the best it can possibly be. Some of my poems are in our print and online literary magazines, The Jabberwocky and The JubJub (where I recently did another interview as featured writer with fellow staff member Carrie Mullins). You can find the latest JubJub issue at: https://ahlitmag.wixsite.com/ahlitmag/the-jubjub. I hope to keep writing frequently and would love to do personal or nonfiction pieces for an outlet like The New York Times (I recently applied to their new student newsletter, The Edit), but I also want to eventually publish a novel of my own.
NoNieqa: What are two words that define you?
Hanah: If I were to describe myself in two words, they would probably be “curious” and “obsessive.” They really go hand in hand to show that in any aspect of my life, I am always looking to discover new things, and as soon as I become interested in something, I dive in headfirst to learn everything I can about it.
THANK YOU Hanah Shields for this interview. You are an inspiration!