18 Nov 2016

Interview / Elise Hahl

Life is tough, but so are you!

Learn how to work through life’s trials with advice from popular youth speakers who have endured a few challenges of their own. This encouraging book will help you see trials as essential stepping-stones to becoming the person you’re destined to be.

1.  If you could work with any other author, who would it be and why?
David McCullough. I went to an event where he spoke about The Wright Brothers and it was awesome--so inspiring. He tells history by concentrating on characters, which makes his books so much fun to read. David McCullough also grew up in Pittsburgh (where I live now) so that's a bonus.

2.  What would be a typical working day for you? When and where do you write?
I'm a stay-at-home mom to five young kids, but every once in a while, a writing project comes along that really excites me (like You've Got Thisand then I arrange for a cousin or nanny to come help me for a couple of months. Writing happens at my desk while the older kids are at school, and I take breaks during the day to do little things with the younger ones. When the older kids come back on the bus, my writing day is over. (Of course, sometimes my childcare runs out before the project is over, and then I have to work during the "graveyard shift" -- 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. That happened a few times with You've Got This. I don't recommend it!)

3.  What is the hardest part of the writing for you?
Staring at a blank screen at the beginning of a project is the hardest part for me. I find myself suddenly doing a lot of online shopping.

4.  When and why did you first start writing?
I think I realized how much I liked writing on my mission in Brazil. Writing in my journal became an opportunity to make myself laugh about the day, especially if it hadn't gone very well.

5.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?
I can't take credit for You've Got This; a publisher approached me with the idea of creating a book for youth about overcoming challenges. What cause could be better, though? I said yes. I wanted this book to be accessible and fun, but I also wanted it to teach profound lessons. The contributors to this book -- Al Carraway, Hank Smith, the "Sistas In Zion," Dallas Lloyd, Whitney Laycock, Chad Hymas -- they really came through. I couldn't have asked for more.

6.  Are you a big reader? If so, what are you reading now?
With five kids, I'm a big reader of Dr. Seuss, for the most part. Still, I'm currently reading Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, which is fantastic. It helps that I've memorized most of the lines to the rap battles from the Broadway musical, of course.

7.  Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?

Become a grammar expert. Learning how words and phrases work will empower you to create the effects you want with your writing. I recommend Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale for some light reading!