Tinti to appear on Thacker Mountain Radio
By Chaning Green
Author Hannah Tinti will be appearing on Thacker Mountain Radio this month to promote her latest novel, “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley.”
Tinti’s novel is centered on the life of a man named Samuel Hawley and his daughter. Hawley has 12 scars, and they’re all bullet holes. So what happened to Samuel Hawley? Who is he and what’s his story? His daughter is going to find out.
Tinti first got the idea for the novel when she set out to write about places that she knew. She had a vague idea that she wanted a love story to be involved, but wasn’t exactly sure how she wanted the pieces to fit together. She was in Gloucester, Massachusetts one year, near where she grew up and she went to an event called the Greasy Pole. They take a telephone pole, cover it in grease and lard and sit out on the pier so that it hangs over the town’s harbor. Challengers, most of whom are drunken fishermen, must reach the other side of the pole and claim the flag at the end. Pretty much everyone just ends up falling into the harbor and is fished out by the people waiting in boats below.
Tinti and her family went to this competition nearly every year when she was growing up. She has fond memories of spending summer days watching and laughing as people fell into the harbor. It all had a sort of Greek, sportsman like feel to it, she said. She thought she’d like the character of her next book to be in this competition. Then she imagined what he would look like. There’s a scene in the book here and it zooms in on one particular man in the competition. With his shirt off, readers can see he’s covered in scars. They’re actually bullet holes. Samuel Hawley has a dozen bullet holes all over him. What kind of life could a man have led that would lead to such wounding?
“As I focused on these scars, I wondered, ‘what’s this story,’” Tinti said. “I thought it would be really cool to tell the entire story of one man’s life, just trough these marks on his bodies. So you’re only getting these snippets of this man’s life. You don’t quite get the whole picture.”
As the story continued to unfold for Tinti, she began exploring different points of Hawley’s life and placing each story of a wound in new location. The book sweeps across the country and explores different locations that Tinti has either lived in or really enjoyed visiting. She poured over journals from her travels and looked at how certain placed made her feel.
“I was also thinking in this mythic hero mindset when I was writing, so I started rereading some of the Greek myths, and I decided to connect his story with the 12 labors of Hercules,” Tinti said. “It tied into this idea of all the different adventures that he would have in these different places, just like Hercules. But if Hercules was happening now, it would be a very different story, and that’s how I struck upon this idea of 12.”
Hercules went on his 12 labors as a penance. Hera, furious with Zeus for conceiving yet another child in yet another affair, sent down a madness upon Hercules, forcing him to kill his entire family. The labors were his way of making it right, appeasing the gods by doing good in the world
This idea of every hero’s dark side really fascinated with Tinti and she threaded that in as a major theme of Hawley’s story. So what are the sins of Samuel Hawley? Tinti weaves a father-daughter story that spans a continent, decades and duality of man who has more than one epic story of his own to tell. “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” has been praised for its beautiful prose, powerful storytelling and its ability to transport readers across space and time as they follow the lives of Samuel Hawley and his young daughter.
Hannah Tinti will be featured on Thacker Mountain Radio Hour Thursday, March 30 at 6 p.m. Tinti is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of One Story magazine, a nonprofit literary magazine that features a single short story per issue. Her novel “The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley” will be released March 28.