Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief (Aug 24 to Sep 4)
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Hi Ms. Tinti!
Thanks for joining us on LibraryThing! I really enjoyed your novel The Good Thief and along with great characters I thought the historical setting was very well drawn and realistic. I'm curious about how and where you did the research for that novel as well as any tips you have for new writers venturing into historical research.
elbakerone / lisa :)
And one other question if you don't mind an add-on, do you have any new novels that you're currently working on? Any teasers of works to come or future releases we can look forward to? Thanks again!!
So glad you enjoyed The Good Thief! I grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, so that was helpful getting a sense of how everything should look and feel. I also did research at the public library, going through newspapers from the 1800s, and reading books on medical schools and resurrection men, such as The Knife Man by Wendy Moore, a wonderful biography on the surgeon John Hunter, and The Italian Boy, by Sarah Wise, a thrilling book that follows a trial of two resurrection men in London during the 1800s. For more info, go here: http://hannahtinti.com/?page_id=89. I explain a lot more on my website!
For advice, I would suggest that writers working on historical novels hold off doing research until their second draft of the book, because otherwise the research will drive the narrative, rather than the characters. That's what E.L. Doctorow suggested to me when I studied with him at NYU, and I find that a very useful tool--to have the permission to make things up.
As for the second question, I've just started to work on a new novel that is a love story. In the same way that The Good Thief is an homage to the adventure stories I read as a child, I also wanted to work on a book that mirrors the love stories that inspired me, such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Wish me luck!
I don't have anything to ask, just wanted to say that I finished reading The Good Thief this morning, I liked it a lot and I'm looking forward to your new novel.
The Good Thief is a wonderful novel and I'm going to start book talking it to high school students this year. Can you recommend any other books in the same vein? What other books have you enjoyed in the picaresque genre?
I just love this book. The work of faith that somehow nurtures Ren's soul through his inner and outer struggles brings a measure of heart to his story that colors his character with a depth uncommon in so many books. The Catholic link is fascinating and so effective. Were you led to use the facets of Catholic prayer and practice because of historical data that you found or did you have this story line in mind all along?
Dear Ms. Tinti :
Thank you so much for taking time to chat with some of the users here on LT.
I hope to read your book soon ... it is on my Wishlist. So many people have enjoyed reading it and I know that I will, also.
You and other writers bring lots of richness to me as a reader.
With warm regard and respect -
womansheart aka Ruth Craig (real name)
Freelunch & Ruth Craig:
Thanks so much for your kind words. I'm so glad you both enjoyed the book!
A few suggestions of books in the same vein as The Good Thief would be Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow, or The Cider House Rules by John Irving.
I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school, and so it felt natural to include this kind of spirituality into the character of Ren. I wanted him to have something to hold on to through all of the chaos he encounters during his adventures. Also, since a good portion of the book turns on the medical world and the physical body, I wanted to counter that with an exploration of the spritual life, and Ren quickly became the center of that storyline. His relationship with God remains close, even as his understanding of the world and what is right and wrong changes.
Thank you for these questions, everyone! I hope we can talk more.
I really have nothing to add or ask but just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading The Good Thief. I absolutely loved both the characters and the storyline and thank you for it. I am very glad to hear that you are working on a new book as well!
Joanne aka coppers
Below is the review of your novel which I wrote on LibraryThing after finishing the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it:
The title of this book says it all. "The Good Thief". Good as in "talented" or good as in "morally''? This engaging tale answers the question. The characters and storyline in this novel were wonderful. When you combine a dwarf living on the roof , a murderous, gentle giant named, Dolly, with a group of misunderstood, thieving misanthropes, how could you go wrong? The protagonist, a classic, pathetic, Dickensian child, named Ren, handles them all throughout this adventure tale which is also about loyalty, truth, what constitutes family, and survival. The characters are Dickens all over, and the adventure reminded me a bit of Robert Louis Stevenson. A really fine story.
What is next for you?
So glad you enjoyed the book!
Thanks for this great review of The Good Thief. I've started to work on a new novel, a love story. That's all I can say about it now!
I have "The Good Thief" on my to-be-read list, which I am eagerly anticipating. However, I have read "Animal Crackers", which is brilliant. It's a fascinating exposition of humans and animals, and which live beyond or below their namesake. "Slim's Last Ride" is chillingly marvelous.
Any future short story collections in the works, or perhaps even longer works based on your short stories or characters contained within?
Hi, I was lucky enough to snag a review copy of The Good Thief (my first from LibraryThing), and fell in love with your book and LibraryThing as a result.
One of the many things that I loved about the book was how there were elements that were almost fairy tale-like (the gentle-giant murderer, the toy-making dwarf up the chimney). Had you intended the book to have a touch of the fantastic or are these elements based on things you found in your research?
Also, FYI, I am a librarian, and I have highly recommended your book to adults, book clubs, and mature young adults. I can't wait to read what you write next!
I'm so glad you enjoyed Animal Crackers. For the moment, I am working on a new novel (at least I think it is a novel), so no plans yet for a new story collection, although I have written one or two since Animal Crackers. The last appeared in the magazine Avery, and you can find a copy here: http://www.averyanthology.org/. I do hope to write more stories in the future! Until then, I edit other people's stories at One Story magazine (http://www.one-story.com).
My mother was a librarian in Brookline, Massachusetts, and so I have a special appreciation for libraries! That's great that you got one of the advance copies. We tried hard to get those into the hands of avid readers, so I'm glad it reached yours.
I was certainly influenced by fairy tales when I wrote The Good Thief. I even went back and re-read some Grimm and also Italo Calvino's wonderful collection of Italian Folktales. I wanted to tread the line of the fantastic and push the boundaries of the story--that is why there is a dwarf, a giant, and the mousetrap factory--surreal elements to add a bit of magic. I'm glad that you enjoyed them!
Dear Hannah -
I was fortunate to be able to pick up a copy of your book TODAY at the library. I hope I can finish reading it before your time with us here at LT is over.
Can't wait! And thank you again for participating in LT Author Chat.
womansheart aka Ruth Craig
Thanks! I hope that you enjoy Ren's journey.
I really enjoyed the book, so much that I bought an extra copy to ship to my dad. He loved it as well.
I loved that the book had a happy ending, there were a couple of other books I read around the same time that had not so happy endings and I was wondering if you were ever tempted to make it more tragic?
I loved "The Good Thief" and I am looking forward to your next novel. I am a librarian in CT and our library hosts several author visits throughout the year. Are you interested in visiting libraries when time allows?
I'm going to change the subject. I found your story, "Reasonable Terms," collected in your book Animal Crackers, to be one of the most arresting works of fiction I've ever read. I'm struck not only by the startling creativity of the plot but also by the quality of empathy for all of the characters -- human and non-human. (For those who haven't read it, the story concerns a group of captive giraffes who stage a series of protests that have a profound impact on the zoo-keeper.) I wonder what provoked you to write this story and what effect imagining yourself into the minds of the giraffes had on you.
I always knew that I wanted to give Ren a happy ending, or at least as happy as possible--I put him through so much in the book! There has been a trend in fiction lately to make all endings tragic, that somehow that makes it more "literary", but I disagree. Also, since this story was inspired by the classics, like Dickens and Stevenson, I wanted to follow their footsteps and give Ren his reward in the end.
I've already done several library visits, and would be glad to visit yours. You can email email@example.com to make arrangements!
"Reasonable Terms" was the very first thing I ever published, so it has a special place in my heart. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! The story began in a writing class that I was taking, where the teacher suggested we should just put an egg timer on for ten minutes and write as much as we could without thinking and without editing ourselves. I wrote the first two pages of "Reasonable Terms". The inspiration was a drawing of a giraffe that was in my bedroom when I was a little girl. I still have it--now it is on the wall above my desk! It is my favorite animal, I think because it is tall and a bit awkward, which I have always been.
Dear Hannah -
What a wonderful book, The Good Thief.
I finished reading it this afternoon and posted a review to LibraryThing on the main page for the book.
Here is the body of the review from LT...
"The Good Thief weaves a story that reads like a classic coming of age tale with all the devices, characters and plot twists that make it a tangible and entertaining experience. I kept thinking to myself, what will happen next, oh, no ... not that! I can't believe it! Whew! *Wipes brow.* *Sighs with relief.*
A wonderful, stalwart protagonist (Ren), his unforgettable companions and each and every one of the other quirky, clever characters will come to life in your mind, fully realized.
You may be borne along, as I was, on an author-crafted vessel navigating a challenging imaginary river of action and emotional rapids. This, of course, leads to learning and experiencing many things that teach and strengthen him/Rem on his journey to knowing himself. He is what I describe as a sturdy soul.
I recommend this book to any reader who enjoys old-fashioned adventure and suspense stories. One of the best of this type I've ever read. I'm eager for Ms. Tinti's next book already."
>20 pattricejones: - pattricejones - Thank you for your comment about "Reasonable Terms," one of the stories from Ms. Tinti's book Animal Crackers. Thank you for wondering about the origins of the story.
>21 HannahTinti: - It is wonderful to hear directly from you how "Reasonable Terms" came to you and then to us, the readers. I will seek out your collection of stories in Animal Crackers. Sounds like the giraffe is a special totem animal for you.
I am so grateful for your comments on The Good Thief. I am also grateful for the imagination, skill and hard work that it take for you to write such a book. I wish you on-going and well deserved success.
Cheers to you, Hannah. You rock.
Ruth Craig aka womansheart
Thank you for this wonderful review, and your kind words.
You rock, too!
Well if I was you I would have read all the reviews of my book by now, but in case you missed it, my review (after a brief synopsis) was:
"The themes of the book are strongly reminiscent of an American Dickens, even if the writing is much more modern. This book is a very good read, and draws the reader in to the mystery of what once happened to Ren, who he is and how he got to be where he was.
This is a story that draws you in and keeps you reading until you turn the last page, and put it down with a satisfied sigh. "
Was this a self conciously Dickensian kind of work? I actually enjoyed it more than Dickens - mostly because of the more modern writing. I also liked the character of Ren very much.
Dickens, of course, was also a social commentator, whereas you are writing a historical novel. Were there any deeper themes that you wanted people to take away from your work though?
Thanks for taking the time to chat.
What a great review! Thanks so much for taking the time with the book, and for sharing your words here.
I definitely had Charles Dickens in mind when I wrote The Good Thief, partly because I was overwhelmed with the idea of writing a novel. Then I remembered that Dickens wrote his books serially, publishing them chapter by chapter in magazines, and I thought--that is the way to do it. To make each chapter its own little story.
As far as deeper themes, I think each reader brings their unique perspective and can probably pull their own ideas from the text. Some readers have pointed out connections that I was surprised to see. When I write many things are being tied together in my subconscious that I'm not totally aware of until much, much later.
But one of the main themes I tried to explore is the resurrection of the body and spirit, and how people find ways to re-invent themselves. Each character goes through their own rebirth, especially Benjamin and Ren--the storytellers.
Thanks Hannah, I really appreciate your reply. I see the rebirth (and redemption) themes. I did very much enjoy this book.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Good Thief as did another of my colleagues, we look forward to your new title. Another teacher was just asking me this week for a good orphan story and yours was my first recommendation with the proviso that it be read as much more than just the story of an orphan!
Congratulations on an uplifting story.
Thanks for recommending the book to your fellow teachers. I'm trying to build up a section of my website for teachers and students, because many have been emailing me with questions. You can find it here: http://hannahtinti.com/?page_id=200.
I have to admit I'm a sucker for orphan stories, too!
This is the last day of my library chat. Thanks to everyone who wrote in and shared their thoughts about The Good Thief. The best thing about writing this book has been the connections I've made with readers. I hope to see you all around Library Thing!
I've been trying to reach you to extend an invitation. I would be grateful to hear from you. I'm at the graduate program in creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia (firstname.lastname@example.org). I would be grateful to hear from you.
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