Author Q&A: Anna Stothard – author of the Pink Hotel

Hello Anna and thank you for taking time to answer these questions for me today! First of all can you tell me a little more about your book, The Pink Hotel?
Hi Raimy, thanks for having me on your blog. Great to be here.
The Pink Hotel is about a difficult, androgynous teenage girl from London who turns up uninvited to her estranged mother’s wake in a huge pink hotel in Venice Beach, Los Angeles. She’s never known her mother, but steals a suitcase of letters, clothes and photographs from a bedroom at the top of the hotel. Through the course of a boiling hot summer in Los Angeles the girl, who is never given a name, begins to dress up in her mother’s clothes and travel the city giving back letters and photographs to all the men who loved her mother. As she gets sucked further into her mother’s life, she discovers that sometimes you have to loose yourself completely in order to find out who you are….

The book grew from a real life experience; did this affect the writing of it? Are there a lot of real life events or is it mostly fictional? Did you have to be careful about what was included and what wasn’t?
I lived in LA for two years, so a lot of the places in the book are “real” places – there’s a huge pink hotel on Venice Beach, where I stayed for a week during my first time in LA, which became the inspiration for the Pink Hotel of the book. David, who the protagonist falls in love with, lives between Thai Town and Little Armenia in East Hollywood, which is where I used to live, and the climactic penultimate scene of the novel occurs in a desert bungalow inspired by a real shack in in the middle of nowhere outside LA.
Apart from the locations, and the fact that I did find a bunch of love letters belonging to my mother
when I was a teenager (although I never went searching for their author), the novel is a work fiction. The girl’s character is inspired by some possible version of me, perhaps, some alternative reality that’s never going to happen. She’s this ghostly character who doesn’t know what role she’s meant to be playing in life, which I think a lot of people can relate to. She’s fiction, though.

What kind of research did you have to do for the Pink Hotel?
I lived in Los Angeles for two years and didn’t drive, so did a lot eavesdropping on the crazy underbelly of the city, the part of the city without red velvet ropes and pool parties.

I understand that The Pink Hotel has been longlisted for the Orange Fiction Prize 2012, what was your first reaction when you found out about the longlist?
It is extremely exciting to be on a list with such wonderful writers.

I have noticed that The Pink Hotel is generally thought of as an Adult contemporary fiction book, however when I read the synopsis I thought it could cross over well into Young Adult fiction, do you think this is the case and would you recommend it to the older YA market? (16+)
It’s a coming of age story about a teenager discovering the boundaries of her identity, her place in the world, so I’d certainly recommend it to the older YA market. It’s a journey about learning how to construct yourself in rebellion and comparison to your parents, working out who you want to be.

Do you have any tips that you would offer to aspiring writers?
Always have a pencil in your bag? Also, try to put your work in a drawer when you’re “finished” because you’re probably not – then when you open the drawer a week or a month later, trick yourself into pretending you’re a stranger reading it for the first time (in the same vein, never label anything “Last Draft” because it’s so rarely the truth, and you end up with a bunch of “Last Draft” files mocking your pathetic optimism from the screen of your computer ever time you turn it on). Also, don’t despair.

Do you have any aids or lucky charms that you like to have near when you are writing?
Coffee. Usually in a yellow mug.

Does your writing follow a particular pattern? Do you stick to a set time period within the day or do you just go with the flow?
People say you should always leave writing in the middle of a scene, so you can jump right back in the next morning. I’ve never managed that sort of structure (I might die in the night, is my thinking, or have lost my train of thought by then). Perhaps as I get older I’ll become more structured, but right now I do it wherever and whenever I can, for as long as I can get away with.

How do you deal with negative, and even positive, criticism?
Hopefully it’s constructive, and you use it.

Have you got any other writing projects underway at the minute and if so can you tell us anything about them?
I’m writing another novel, a story set in London about a relationship falling apart.

A few more personal quick-fire questions:
Favourite author: Margaret Atwood
Favourite band: Belle and Sebastian (I like songs with stories)
Favourite colour: Red
Favourite animal: Eagles
Favourite dinosaur: Diplodocus. Great name.

Thank you for this Anna, such great answers and I love the sound of your book, it’s high up on my reading list and I cant wait! I love a song with a story too and I cant believe people suggest that you should leave writing in the middle of a scene, that would scare me! 

If you want to find out more about Anna or The Pink Hotel you can visit her blog here.


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