Friday, August 26, 2022

Somerville Writer Regina Hansen: Braves 'The Coming Storm'


For years I've seen and chatted with Somerville writer Regina Hansen at my favorite haunt in Union Square-- the Bloc 11 Café. However, I had never had the chance to interview her. But with her new young adult fiction novel "The Coming Storm" coming in with the literary tide, I was on it like a hornet--and got to speak to her in my familiar environs at the back of the said café.

I asked Hansen about her life as a writer in the " Paris of New England." She replied,  " There are so many places in Somerville for a writer. The city has great libraries, the Somerville Arts Council is very supportive. My own mother was born in Somerville, so I feel very comfortable here."

Hansen is a professor at Boston University and teaches children and young adult fiction-- among other things. I asked her why she gravitated to this genre of writing, She told me, " I read it as a child and young adult. At a certain age, let's say 11 to 14, kids get hope and solace from these stories. They are at an awkward age. They are not quite adults, but on the other hand they can't get the kid's meal at the local restaurant. They are in a kind of funny place. I remember feeling that way at that age, and books were a sort of elixir to that."

Hansen continued, " I raised my own extended family and I have taught kids of all ages. I don't teach kids to get good ideas from them. I teach them because I like them. Kids aren't stupid. If you try to act like them then you lose them.  But if you-- be you, they will come to you." 

Her supernatural/ horror//mystery novel, " The Coming Storm" is set in Prince Edward Island. The setting was based partly on the time she spent on her grandfather's farm on the island. Hansen said the basic storyline is about a boy and a girl who struggle against evil forces to save a baby.

One of the characters in the novel is an evil woman named Marlena. She is cold and manipulative--and controls a monster to do her dirty work. Hansen talked about the conceptualization of the character,   "You know, when I introduced this character, I didn't realize that she might be seen as this stereotypical 'nasty' woman. But all the other women are equally as strong and not negative beings.  But Marlena moves the story along. I did my very best to characterize women as brave, strong and loving throughout the book."

Since a monster plays a role in her novel, I asked Hansen what attracts kids and adults to monsters, when there are so many real life monsters today. She reflected, "Kids like monsters because it helps them cope with their fears.... their monsters... in their own life. It helps them deal with adversity in their own world."

Hansen told me she has taught composition for years. And the same elements that are in this course of study, are taught in her young adult fiction classes. Hansen pointed out that strong writing involves detail, critical thinking, among other things. She said, "I always tell my students to approach the blank page with no fixed ideas where the story will go. It should come organically."

I asked Hansen why kids, etc... should read her book. She opined, " I think the story is filled with compassion and mystery. I think readers  will love the people in it. It encompasses the world I would want to live in and hopefully it's the same for people who read the book."

For more info about Hansen go to:

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