Interview: Lisa Jensen, author of Alias Hook

Please welcome Lisa Jensen to the blog! Her brand new novel, ALIAS HOOK, just came out, and she kindly answered a few of my questions about the book, and more!

lisajensenI love the premise of Alias Hook, and I imagine legions of Peter Pan fans will too! Will you tell us a little more about it and what inspired you to write it?
Alias Hook imagines the world of the Neverland from the viewpoint of Captain James Hook, its prisoner. He’s cursed to spend eternity playing villain to a pack of bratty little boys in a pointless war that never ends. Then something totally unexpected happens—a forbidden grown woman shows up in the Neverland, in defiance of Pan’s rules against “ladies.” She may be Hook’s one last chance for redemption and release.

I’m a movie critic in my “day job,” and I got the idea for this book one day when I was writing a review of a live-action Peter Pan movie. I suddenly thought how awful it must be to be an adult trapped in a world of eternal childhood. And that’s when I knew I had to write Hook’s side of the story!

You have a background as a film critic and newspaper columnist, but have you always wanted to write fiction? What is one of the first things you can remember writing?
Oh, boy, let’s see… I used to write little stories as far back as I can remember. I also used to draw out stories in comic book format. Alias Hook came this close to being a graphic novel—except it would have taken SO much longer to do all that drawing!

aliashookWhat do you love most about the story of Peter Pan, and why do you think it appeals to so many people?
Well, I have to admit, I’ve always loved Captain Hook! Of course, I have a thing for pirates anyway, but I’ve always though Hook was the most interesting and funniest character in the story; I always hated it when the crocodile swallows him up in the end. The appeal of the Peter Pan story is, I guess, the eternal conflict between the promise of youth and jaded maturity. Although in my version, perpetual childhood “innocence”is not such a great thing, while the wisdom that (finally) comes with maturity is something to be valued.

What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’ve tried to write books both ways, and plotting makes more sense to me. Which doesn’t mean I ever actually do it! My method now (such as it is) is to write scenes as they occur to me for a few weeks or months, then attempt to arrange them into some kind of chronological order. Building bridges between these scenes as they head for the grand finale is the way the plot occurs to me—if I’m lucky!

What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
I’ve always loved Charles Dickens, for the way his stories teem with characters and ideas. I admire Diana Gabaldon for the complexity of emotions she weaves into her novels. And J.K. Rowling and Patrick O’Brian tell such cracking good yarns!

What are you currently reading?
I’m just about to dive into Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, a retelling of the Rapunzel tale with historical roots in the court of Versailles and Renaissance Venice.

Since you’re a film critic, I have to ask…what are a few of your favorite movies? Are there any that are coming up that you’re looking forward to, or any recent films that you’d recommend?
Oh, the answer to this question comes out different every time I’m asked! Annie Hall. Cinema Paradiso. A Hard Day’s Night. Memento. For recent movies, I admired a lot of Maleficent, for the way it reinterpreted the Sleeping Beauty tale, although some parts didn’t work for me. And I understand there are something like three new Peter Pan/Captain Hook movies coming out in 2015, so I’ll be curious about those.

If you had to cast Alias Hook, who would star?
I think Hugh Jackman has the right panache to play James Hook, and the musicality. (My Hook is an accomplished musician, which makes losing his hand even worse.) I like Rachel Weisz for Stella, my heroine. I don’t know who would play Pan. When you consider how long it takes to get a film made, that child actor probably hasn’t been born yet!

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Free time, hmmm…yes, I vaguely remember what that is! I still like to draw and paint, a little. I love to bake. And I love to read, although I never have nearly enough time for it!

What’s next for you?
In the retold fairy tale mode, I have a pretty cool revisionist version of Beauty and the Beast in the wings. And I am entertaining the idea of a sequel to Alias Hook as we speak!

Keep up with Lisa: Website

“Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It’s my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy.”

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen is a beautifully and romantically written adult fairy tale.

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