Hannah Carmack is the wonderful author behind the newly released novella, Take Your Medicine!
After checking out this gorgeous little story – featuring the fainting disorder, vasovagal syncope, a F/F romance that’ll keep you on your toes, and the quirkiness of Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – I was granted the pleasure of interviewing Hannah Carmack herself!
BECCA: Welcome and congratulations on the new book, Take Your Medicine! For those out there who do not know you, who is Hannah Carmack? Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
Hannah Carmack: To be honest, I’m a bit of an open book, so most people know my story. I guess one thing I haven’t talked about much is my coming out story? I was in denial about being queer for a pretty long time. Then, I went and saw Adam Silvera speak about his own experiences with being queer and depression. Hearing his story really touched me and encouraged me to live my own truth. Within a week I was out to my partner and parents.
B: You describe Take Your Medicine as a “…southern gothic retelling of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Where did you get your idea for the book from?
HC: I had this idea of the queen of hearts as a cardiothoracic surgeon wracking around in my brain day in and day out, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I felt like everyone had a retelling of Alice and wasn’t too sure what would make mine different. Then, Nine Star Press put out a call for submissions for an anthology of queer fairytale retellings. I wrote Take Your Medicine and it was accepted, but the editor liked it so much he actually offered to publish it as a full-blown novella! Which was AWESOME.
B: Are you a big fan of fairy tales and cautionary stories?
HC: I think fairy tales are classic and people naturally gravitate towards them. Through retellings, I think fairy tales have really become like modern day Greek Gods. It’s the same familiar characters, but they can be shown in 800 different settings/scenarios/stories and still provide some comforting nostalgia.
B: In Take Your Medicine, the characters all seem to take on the names and characteristics of Carroll’s characters. If you were a character from Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, who would you be and why?
HC: I once had a teacher tell my mother I was always looking at the clock like I had somewhere to go, and that’s still true. I am a notorious clock-watcher, so I’d have to say the White Rabbit.
B: Why did you choose vasovagal syncope (VVS) as a key component in your novel? Is VVS something you have experience with?
HC: I have had a few fainting episodes, but it’s nothing compared to having full-blown diagnosed VVS. I think it’s really important to explore illnesses often ignored in media. I have ulcerative colitis and have written about it in the past. This time around I wanted to explore more illnesses often pushed to the margins, and that’s how I came across VVS.
B: What’s your favourite quote from Take Your Medicine?
HC: Honestly, I love the opening line! I got sick the summer of 2010. Right off the bat you have conflict and a solid hook.
This one is a minor spoiler, but I love when Laura says I’d prune all my roses to nothing for you. It really drives home that relationship of a mother who is willing to give up everything for her child.
B: What books do you suggest that all aspiring authors should pick up?
HC: I don’t have one book in specific, but I would say def read outside your genre. You’d be surprised what you can learn from a book you would have normally passed right on by.
B: What book do you wish you had written?
HC: The only books I could think of are books that I love like The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly or Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson, and I think those books wouldn’t be as perfect and wonderful had anyone else written them, so I’ll pass on this one.
B: Do you have any up-and-coming projects that we should look out for? What is Hannah Carmack up to next?
HC: Hannah Carmack is hard at work hustling! Hahaha. I don’t have a solid release date yet, but book one in a duology I’m working on will be coming out sometime next year, also with Nine Star. I can’t say much, but I can promise that it’s hella queer and focuses on a Betsy DeVos inspired education system.
About the author
Hannah Carmack is a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University and her debut novel, Seven-Sided Spy, was released in January 2018. She spends a lot of time with STEM Read, an organisation aimed at teaching and inspiring readers through popular fiction.