Coffeerooms BookMark 20 Questions


The House of Gentle Men

Kathy Hepinstall,
author of
The House of Gentle Men

questions provided by Carrie
page 1

A couple of questions on behalf of struggling writers - How long did it take to write The House of Gentle Men and how long to get it published? Did you have an agent? Do you have a drawer full of rejection slips?

This book took, all told, perhaps six or seven months to write, rewrite and research. Perhaps a little longer. but it was off and on, so the period of time from conception to final draft to the editor was over a year and a half. Yes, I had an agent. He put the book out and we had the first offer within a few days. I have a small drawer full of rejection slips, mostly from agents. However, I ended up with interest from several good agents and I feel there is a definite art to writing query letters; one that all writers should practice. My tip is: Intrigue them, grab them by the throat, surprise them, impress them in the very first sentence.

There is much discussion about inner demons in the book. What inner demons are Charlotte, Milo, Justin, Louise, Benjamin, Belinda, and Mr. Olen grappling with?

Yes, I agree. Much demon activity. To run them down: Charlotte struggles with twin demons: What's been done to her and what she's done. She's caught in a crossfire of resentment and personal guilt. Milo is haunted by his role in his mother's death. His place in the community, or lack thereof, is rigid and he wants desperately to change from goat to hero. Justin can't get over his part in a long-ago rape. His relationship with Charlotte both soothes and tortures him. Louise has never forgiven her mother for abandoning her. Belinda's "demon" is her husband and the fact that she's chosen an outward happiness over an inward one. Mr. Olen is full of regret that he let his wife slip through his fingers. Like the author, he thinks words can fix everything. Thus he spends hour after hour trying to write the perfect letter. And Benjamin is probably the least haunted. He struggles with the question of what it really means to be a man.

What personality traits arise from their struggle with their demons?

Well they say that a person's inner character is revealed through adversity. Milo proves himself to be intensely loyal, and loving in a fierce, good-intentioned way. Benjamin becomes more considerate and gentle. The things that happen to Louise reveal that she desperately would like to break out of her rigidity, and that love--or her version of love--can transform her.


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Kathy Hepinstall
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