Hannah, Kristin 1960-
HANNAH, Kristin 1960-
PERSONAL: Born September 25, 1960, in Garden Grove, CA; daughter of Laurence and Sharon John; married Benjamin Hannah (a film buyer), May 17, 1986; children: one son. Education: University of Washington, B.A., 1982; University of Puget Sound, J.D., 1986.
CAREER: Northwest Diversified Entertainment, Seattle, WA, lawyer, 1986–93; writer, 1993–.
MEMBER: Romance Writers of America, Novelists, Inc.
AWARDS, HONORS: Maggie Award and RITA/Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, 1990, both for A Handful of Heaven; National Readers' Choice Award, Publishers Weekly Best Book of 1996, Booklist Best Book of 1996, all for Home Again.
A Handful of Heaven, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1991.
The Enchantment, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1992.
Once in Every Life, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1993.
When Lightning Strikes, Gold Medal (New York, NY), 1994.
If You Believe, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1994.
Waiting for the Moon, Gold Medal (New York, NY), 1995.
Home Again, Fawcett Books (New York, NY), 1996.
On Mystic Lake, Crown (New York, NY), 1999.
Angel Falls, Crown (New York, NY), 2000.
Summer Island, Crown (New York, NY), 2001.
Distant Shores, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Jennifer Blake and Linda Lael Miller) With Love, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Between Sisters, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2003.
The Things We Do for Love, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
Harvest Hearts (anthology), Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1993.
SIDELIGHTS: Kristin Hannah gained success as a writer after first practicing as a lawyer. Her first novel was written while she was in law school; a historical novel set in Scotland. She worked on it with her mother, who was ill with cancer at the time. Although that novel has never been published, it nevertheless was a milestone in Hannah's path as an author. She completed law school and began practicing, but when her first pregnancy forced her to take complete bed rest, she turned to writing for something to pass away the hours. She sold a novel when her son was just two years old, and has published at a rate of about a book a year since then. Her novels are generally put in the category of romantic fiction, but many critics have lauded her work as being a cut above that usually found in the genre.
Hannah's first several novels were published in paperback. On Mystic Lake was her breakthrough to the more prestigious hardcover market. According to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, in On Mystic Lake Hannah "shows what it takes for an author to make that defining leap. Never one to gush, she is more than ever disciplined in her writing, and the result is a clean, deep thrust into the reader's heart." The story concerns Annie Colwater, who faces loneliness when her 17-year-old daughter Natalie departs for a summer in London. Annie soon learns that her husband wants a divorce so he can pursue his relationship with a younger woman. Annie retreats to her hometown and the gruff affection of her father, who raised her after her mother's untimely death. She meets up with her high school sweetheart, who is also struggling in the wake of his wife's suicide. Patty Engelmann in Booklist called this "an extremely satisfying, insightful, and emotional tale."
In Hannah's next hardcover novel, Angel Falls, Dr. Liam Campbell is forced to cope with a shattered life when his wife Mikaela ends up in a coma after a horseback riding accident. While she is unconscious, Liam learns that she was once married to a world-famous movie star, Julian True. Liam realizes that Julian's name is the only one that evokes a response from Mikaela. Devastated and struggling with jealousy, Liam nevertheless contacts Julian, and the actor's presence helps to revive Mikaela. She has partial amnesia, however, and Liam feels he must let her choose once again between Julian and himself. Margaret Ann Hanes, a reviewer for the Library Journal, remarked that despite a melodramatic plot, "Hannah does manage to instill a sense of pathos and sentimentality that pulls the reader along." A Booklist reviewer added that "Hannah ably uses her insights into small-town and family life … in a story sure to please fans of dramatic, romantic love stories."
The problems sometimes faced by married couples after their children are grown form the core of Distant Shores, another of Hannah's novels. Elizabeth and Jack Shore are struggling to chart their marital future. A former professional football player who now has a mostly-unsuccessful career as a sports commentator, Jack has been a difficult husband—unfaithful and self-centered. When he contemplates a move to New York from Washington State in order to pursue his broadcasting career, Elizabeth must ask herself if she still loves him enough to follow. Noting that the subject matter has the potential to be "depressing," Angela A. Bauer in the Florida Times Union found that in "Hannah's skillful writing makes it an uplifting tale in which the reader gains the notion that the Shores will be all right…. It might inspire some readers to question what is lacking in their own lives and fill the void before they reach Elizabeth's breaking point." Booklist's Patty Engelmann also praised Distant Shores, declaring, "This insightful look into the dynamics of marriage will resonate with readers, and mark Hannah as a strong voice in women's fiction."
Discussing her writing process in an interview on the Kristin Hannah Home Page, the author noted: "In a perfect world, I begin writing at around 9:00 in the morning. How long I spend at it is largely dependent on where I am in the book. In the first draft—which I write long hand—I can only spend four or five hours at a time working. After that, as the novel begins to take shape, my ability to concentrate increases. By the end of the process, I am often working ten to twelve hour days…. Honestly, I never believe I'm done, but sooner or later, my deadline arrives and I'm forced to say 'enough.'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1998, Patty Engelmann, review of On Mystic Lake, p. 547; February 1, 2000, Catherine Sias, review of Angel Falls, p. 996; January 1, 2001, Patty Englemann, review of Summer Island, p. 870; July, 2001, Joyce Saricks, review of Summer Island, p. 2029; May 1, 2002, Patty Engelmann, review of Distant Shores, p. 1444; March 15, 2003, Patty Engelmann, review of Between Sisters, p. 1253; April 15, 2004, Patty Engelmann, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 1404.
Florida Times Union, August 4, 2002, Angela A. Bauer, review of Distant Shores, p. D4.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2003, review of Between Sisters, p. 496; May 15, 2004, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 460.
Library Journal, August, 1994, Kristin Ramsdell, review of When Lightning Strikes, p. 66; November 15, 1995, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Waiting for the Moon, p. 64; November 15, 1996, Kristin Ramsdell, review of Home Again, p. 52; December, 1998, Carol J. Bissett, review of On Mystic Lake, p. 154; November 1, 1999, Jodi L. Israel, review of On Mystic Lake, p. 143; March 15, 2000, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of Angel Falls, p. 126; February 15, 2001, Margaret Hanes, review of Summer Island, p. 200; December, 2001, Jodi L. Israel, review of Summer Island, p. 198; April 15, 2003, Margaret Hanes, review of Between Sisters, p. 122; June 1, 2004, Margaret Hanes, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 120.
Publishers Weekly, June 22, 1992, review of The Enchantment, p. 56; January 11, 1993, review of Once in Every Life, p. 57; December 13, 1993, review of If You Believe, p. 66; September 26, 1994, review of When Lightning Strikes, p. 61; September 18, 1995, review of Waiting for the Moon, p. 125; October 28, 1996, review of Home Again, p. 76; January 18, 1999, review of On Mystic Lake, p. 327; October 4, 1999, "Hannah's Mystical Appeal," p. 21; March 20, 2000, review of Angel Falls, p. 72; January 22, 2001, review of Summer Island, p. 300; May 27, 2002, review of Distant Shores, p. 33; April 14, 2003, review of Between Sisters, p. 49; June 21, 2004, review of The Things We Do for Love, p. 45.
Seattle Times, March 22, 1999, Melinda Bargreen, review of On Mystic Lake, p. E3; March 19, 2001, Melinda Bargreen, "Mother Knows Best," p. E1; July 28, 2002, Melinda Bargreen, review of Distant Shores, p. K9.
Kristin Hannah Home Page, http://www.kristinhannah.com (February 4, 2003).