After I read her debut novel, I knew you’d like to meet her, so without further ado, please welcome Hannah Cobb!
Nickname: None that I admit to
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Personal Philosophy: Try to see the world through someone else’s eyes at least once a day. It may hurt, but how else can we understand each other?
Fave Scripture : Romans 8:38-9. Because I need this profoundly beautiful promise.
Fave Quote: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”― Albert Einstein
In high school I was a…Bookworm
I interviewed Hannah in the normal manner–I sent her questions and she sent witty and intelligent responses. When I found out from her publisher, Taegais Publishing, that Hannah had written this book as a home school project, I realized I’d missed the most interesting part of the interview! If you’re interested in the questions/answer interview, you can check it out on my blog. Here’s the exclusive behind-Mortis interview.
On writing and homeschooling:
I think I would have been a writer/storyteller of some sort no matter what, but I can definitely look back and see that being homeschooled shaped my love of reading and writing. My parents read to me every day during my childhood. Shakespeare, Louisa May Alcott, Tolkien, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Dickens—I lived in a world of powerful stories and rich language from a very young age. Throughout my elementary school years I read all the time. I learned history through historical fiction (one of my all-time favorite books, to this day, is Mara Daughter of the Nile, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw). And, of course, my family went to the local library on a regular basis.
My poor mother enforced a limit on how many books we could bring home because otherwise we would have checked out the whole library, but she never censored what we read, so long as we stayed within an age-appropriate range of reading materials. I am so appreciative that my mother adopted this open-minded approach to reading habits. Too many people narrow what they read and experience to only what coincides with their particular worldview or religious/political/philosophical perspective on life. Kids need to read about what life is like for other people. They need windows into other worlds.
I believe this wealth of reading is really what shaped my ability to write, though my parents also encouraged my writing; in high school my mom let me write a novel each year as the composition portion of my English grade. They were terrible novels. But I learned a lot writing them—and I learned that writing can be an adventure, and an exploration, not just a series of five-paragraph essays.
I was mostly through my first year of college when I wrote Mortis. I can remember exactly when Jane and Felix and Willy first popped Athena-like into my head—I was on spring break, and I was crammed in the back of my family’s twelve-passenger van on the way home from visiting my grandparents, trying not to be carsick or yell at my rowdy siblings, entirely unable to record this first glimpse of a story I really wanted to write. As soon as I got home I raced for pen and paper. Writing the first draft of a novel while preparing for final exams is not a process I would recommend, but I didn’t fail anything and I got the story written, so all’s well that ends well.
What is Mortis about? you ask.
Back cover blurb:
A young assassin must betray all she knows.
In an underground school rife with duels and deadly classes, Jane hides in the shadows to stay alive. She is the invisible assassin. But as she prepares to graduate from Mortis and take her place in the world as a fully-trained killer, Jane stumbles over shadowy secrets revealing dark truths that affect more than her world. Will she embrace the darkness, or betray the school that raised her—and the boy she loves? Once Jane sets herself against her school, there is no turning back because in Mortis, failure always means death.
She elbowed through the last of the crowd and emerged at his side, grinning. “I can’t wait to see his face when you win.”
Anyone else would have counseled caution. Felix found himself answering her grin. He tossed Willy his coat and rolled up his shirtsleeves. “It’s not his face I care about.”
“She’s here,” Willy said, answering the question he hadn’t asked.
His eyes rose to the stands again, and found Jane at once. He could see her fury in the tilt of her chin, in the inscrutable line of her mouth. She hadn’t spoken to him since the challenge.
Willy elbowed him. “Focus, Felix. She’ll get over it.”
“Is that supposed to comfort me while I face possible death?”
“If you die defending her, she’ll die of a broken heart a few days later. Just like in the ballads.”
Felix pulled his attention back to the ring. “You haven’t quite mastered the solemn tone of a dueling second, Will.”
“Yeah, well, I’m more used to being in the ring myself.” Willy straightened up, her hand settling on her own student sword. “Here he comes.”
Kade paused in the doorway, raking the room with a glance that laid ownership to everyone in the stands. He swaggered his way to the ring.
The school rioted in response, half the crowd cheering for Felix, the other half chanting Kade’s name, a rhythmic battle of sound. Felix ignored the noise. Kade preened in it, bowing and then bowing again, a sharp nod that set the bells in his hair jingling.
Then Kade deliberately swept his gaze over the audience. His stare fastened on Jane.
Felix saw Jane’s smile vanish, her expression brittle. His fingers tightened around his sword hilt. “Kade, this isn’t a player’s stage. Are you here to fight or to amuse the crowd?”
Before Kade could answer the hall fell silent, a stillness enforced by the masters’ presence in the doorway. Black robes brushed the floor as they strode to their places around the ring, one master for each of the twelvespikes holding the rope boundary.
Felix entered the dueling circle. He should have been afraid His gaze turned to Kade’s sword with its sixteen gold rings around the hilt, marking the older boy as a member of the senior class.
The sword in his own hand bore only fourteen gold rings.
He performed the requisite bow to his opponent.
“Begin,” one of the masters said.
Kade’s sword snapped forward. Felix felt the grind of steel against steel through his wrist and up his arm. His feet slid across the floor, sword flashing from strike to block to lunge without conscious thought.
The noise outside the ring hammered at him: Willy bellowing, “Hit him, Felix!” from the edge of the ring, catcalls when Kade stumbled, moans when the older student recovered and attacked again. The razor edge of Kade’s sword grazed Felix’s shoulder.
Kade drew back, smirking. “Want to give up, boy?”
Felix transferred his sword to his left hand and Kade bore down on him, forcing both their blades sideways. Felix slammed himself into his opponent. For a moment they strained against each other, feet planted on the floor in stubborn refusal to give way.
Kade’s hand twitched to the right and Felix wrenched free, hooking a foot around Kade’s leg and jerking the older boy off his feet.
The cheering from the stands vanished in a collective indrawn breath.
Felix stood over Kade and let his eyes rise to the stands, just for a moment.
Jane’s expression hadn’t changed, but this time her anger swept through him like a sturdy kind of warmth. She nodded to him, just once.
Willy flung herself into the ring, howling with delight, and the hall shook with the cheering, the stands rattling, the vaulted ceiling vibrating above them.
Felix remembered to breathe. The lightning-sharp anger of the fight sizzled inside him. It took an effort to hold his sword steady.
He could kill Kade. He’d won the duel.
“You wouldn’t dare,” Kade hissed, arrogant even in defeat.
He wanted Kade dead, but not yet. Not like this.
Not with Jane watching.
He leaned down so only Kade would hear. “Next time you think of coming near her, remember this. Remember what it feels like to greet death.”
The tip of his blade flicked once, leaving a triangle of blood at the base of Kade’s throat.
Felix’s eyes bored into Kade’s. “Remember that Jane is mine.”
He sheathed his sword, turned on his heel, and left the ring.
Excerpt used by permission.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. In fact, it made it to my favorite-reads-of-all-time list. I loved the story, setting, and characters and didn’t want to leave the world or the new friends I’d made behind. If you like fantasy novels, you will enjoy this one. A lot. 🙂
To find out more about Hannah and Mortis, and for a chance to win your own e-version of Mortis, stop by my blog (lisagodfrees.com) and leave a comment. Drawing closes on April 9th.
And now, dear readers, tell me: were you home- or public schooled? Inquiring minds want to know!