Monday, August 31, 2020

Patrick Canning Interview - Hawthorn Woods

Photo Content from Patrick Canning

PATRICK CANNING is the author of three novels, including Cryptofauna (2018), The Colonel and the Bee (2018), and his latest, Hawthorn Woods (2020). He has also published several short stories. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys playing beach volleyball, following space exploration, and losing at bar trivia. Some of his favorite authors include Bill Watterson, Liane Moriarty, David Foster Wallace, Stephen King, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Patrick lives in Los Angeles with his Australian Shepherd, Hank, who some consider to be the greatest dog of all time.


Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
Lots of writers for lots of reasons, but lately, Kurt Vonnegut. I like books that are satirical and funny, but also compassionate and meaningful, and he has a way of nailing that balance. The kind of stuff that’s a blast to read, but also might reconfigure your soul just a little bit.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Reading a positive review and hearing someone got something out of the book is always nice. Not that negative reviews are wrong or worthless, but it’s very rewarding when you’re able to connect with someone you’ve never met, over something you made up, and have it feel real and maybe even significant.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
Enjoyment, first and foremost. I hope the plot and characters are fun, and take unexpected turns at just the right time. I hope they’re rooting for Francine, and maybe even relating to her situation with experiences from their own life.

In your new book; HAWTHORN WOODS, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
HAWTHORN WOODS is a domestic suspense/mystery novel, set in the Midwest neighborhood I grew up in (called Hawthorn Woods). The story follows a woman named Francine, who goes to stay at her sister’s place to try and get over a terrible divorce. When the neighborhood turns out not to be the peaceful, therapeutic environment Francine expected, she takes an active attitude toward her recovery instead, and decides to solve the mysteries surrounding her.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Procrastination and doubt are the usual contenders. Procrastination can be killed with willpower and scheduling, but doubt, over whether it’s a good story/you’re a good writer, is just something you have to outlast. I don’t know a surefire way to combat that just yet, though I suspect a Pulitzer might do the trick.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would want Francine to meet Nancy Drew. She grew up a Nancy-fan and tries to emulate her detective style in some ways. That would definitely be her ultimate, literary celebrity meet up.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
I have a somewhat more plot-focused process in the early stages (outlining and whatnot), so it’s always fun when the characters start to push back in later drafts and you have to accommodate the story to work them, instead of the other way around.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
All the planets in the solar system would fit between Earth and the moon.

What according to you is your most treasured possession?
Sort of a boring answer, but old photographs and home videos. It’s so easy to forget how things were and who was around, so that’s a special thing to look at every now and then.

Best date you've ever had?
Anytime the conversation transcends the stilted, question-and-answer routine is great (what do you do, how many siblings do you have, who is your favorite Spice Girl…). As far as the activity goes, anything creative and unexpected is always a welcome change.

If you could go back in time to one point in your life, where would you go?
I did a cross-country road trip in an old, beat-up RV in college. It had its ups and downs, but that kind of wandering adventure was pretty unique and special.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
I don’t know if this counts, but anytime I’m losing patience with people (traffic, line at the grocery store) I find myself thinking of Mr. Rogers, and what he would do. Then I just try to copy that.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of?
Kevin Bacon. He’s the villain in a 90’s movie called The River Wild. I think I saw it when I was like 9, and I’m wary of him to this day.

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer?
I think my best writing memory is yet to come, but I’m also very grateful for everyone who’s checked out my work so far. I also got my first piece of fan mail recently, and that was pretty validating.

Where can readers find you?
You can read all about my work on, or find me on Instagram @catpanning.

Ten Favorite Books Read This Year
Non-Fiction: Hell’s Angels – Hunter S. Thompson, Permanent Record – Edward Snowden, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass, Crucial Conversations – Kerry Patterson, Notes of a Native Son – James Baldwin

Fiction: A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles, A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole, The Emissary – Yoko Tawada, The Guest List – Lucy Foley, The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce she just can’t seem to leave behind, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two-week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place to sort through her pain and finally move on with her life—but the tranquility doesn’t last long.

Beginning with a complete stranger throwing a drink in her face at her own welcome party, Francine soon discovers the supposedly idyllic suburb is hiding a disturbing number of mysteries. Why is the handsome-ish guy next door lying about who he is? What’s hidden in the back of the teenage troublemaker’s shed? Who wrote a threatening message in blood? Which of the smiling neighbors has a secret they’d kill to keep?

Seeking to reclaim a natural passion for sleuthing numbed by her divorce, Francine rewrites her prescription from one of relaxation to one of investigation. If she can detect the lies, follow the clues, and remember how to trust herself, she might get to the bottom of what’s so very wrong in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again—assuming she lives long enough to be in it.

You can purchase Hawthorn Woods at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you PATRICK CANNING for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning.


  1. I think I'd pick Italy for a year because of the history. And food!

  2. I'd pick Japan or South Korea because of their technology, value of cleanliness in apartments, and food!

  3. I think I would like to live in Denmark, home of my ancestors. Since I am not a big fish fan, I wonder how I will get along?

  4. If I knew I were going to live for only one year and then return home, I would want to live in New York City. So much to see, so much to do, so much to absorb. Then home, to my rural life.

  5. I would love to live on Kauai for a year its so pretty there

  6. I would love to live in Ireland. It looks so green and beautiful. Also, Waterford Crystal is made , love, love it!