Unhappy Paradise in 'The Descendants'

Kaui Hart Hemmings' first novel, set in Hawaii, recalls that first line of Anna Karenina: that "happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." In this case, it's a family as wealthy as it is unhappy.

Kaui Hart Hemmings: Off to the Writer's Room

Kaui Hart Hemmings

hide captionKaui Hart Hemmings occasionally watches MTV for inspiration.

Kaui Hart Hemmings

Kaui Hart Hemmings is the author of the short-story collection House of Thieves. Her first novel, The Descendants, will be published by Random House in May. Hemmings grew up in Hawaii and now lives in San Francisco.

How She Writes: "Two days a week I go to my office at The Grotto, a writer's collective in San Francisco. I get there at 8:15 and write until around 1 or 2 p.m. Sometimes I'll have lunch in the conference room with all the other writers and we'll talk about our work or about things completely unrelated. These two days I usually go over things I have written, adding on and revising.

The other three days of the week, I'm with my 2-year-old and I make myself write three new pages while she naps."

Writer's Block Remedies "I find inspiration in the usual places (by reading other writers' work) and unusual places (watching Sweet Sixteen on MTV.) I also know that sometimes I just need a break. I try to think of it not as writer's block, but a time where you just need to live life and experience things so you have something to write about."

A Favorite Sentence: "Lyle is aware that he isn't right, and sometimes he feels his jaw, his face, making sure it isn't becoming elongated in a cruel caricature of a sad man."

See More Authors in Novel Ideas

Books Featured In This Story

The Descendants
The Descendants

by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Hardcover, 283 pages | purchase

close

Purchase Featured Books

  • The Descendants
  • Kaui Hart Hemmings

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: