The Midnighters Blog Tour: Q and A with Hana Tooke

Hello everybody! Today, I’m super excited to have Hana Tooke here as part of her blog tour, answering some questions that connect to The Midnighters and her first book the Unadoptables. Onto the post!

Where did you grow up?

I spent the first twelve years of my life in the Netherlands, just north of Amsterdam. And then I moved to the south-west of England and have lived here ever since.

Did you like school?

I went to three very different schools and had three very different experiences. In the Netherlands, I went to a European School. It was a complete melting pot of nationalities and I think that’s where I have gotten my love for exploring different countries and cultures. My father taught at that school, so I grew up within its walls and felt very comfortable there. Everyone was used to my physical disability and never commented on it, and my dual nationality did not seem out of place in the slightest.

That all changed when I went to my first school in Devon. I had barely stepped through the front gates on my first day before children started mocking the way I walked. Then they heard my strange name, my accent… and things went downhill from there. A little under two years later, my parents had to withdraw me from that school as the bullying was getting worse, not better, and I had become extremely anxious and selectively mute.

My second school in Devon, however, was life-changing. It was called The Small School, had about 30 students in total, and was unlike any school I’d ever come across. My first (gleeful) comment to my mother was ‘it doesn’t matter that I’m weird, because they are all weird too!’. What really stood out to me was the fact that all students were encouraged to be themselves, pursue their own interests, and not have to conform. I flourished there.

We grew our own vegetables, cooked our own lunches, and every afternoon was a two-hour long session dedicated to a subject of our choice. We did things like rock-climbing, samba music, word work, stained glass, cinematography… anything we could think of – the teachers/parents would try to make it happen. I started talking again (within the school, anyway) and the encouragement I’d been given to take charge of my own learning and explore my creativity really shaped me as a person. It all went downhill again at college and my first attempt at university, but slowly those skills I’d learned at The Small School came back to help me navigate my way forward. So, it’s safe to say I had a pretty unusual education overall.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer when you were young?

Not at all! I was both a reluctant reader and a reluctant writer at school. I did write songs though, and expressing myself this way is what I think eventually led me to want to explore other ways of expressing myself through writing. It just took me a little longer than most writers, I guess.

Are there any aspects of or influences from your childhood that have found their way into your writing today?

My experience of feeling a misfit has shaped both my books. My time at The Small School very much influenced The Unadoptables – a group of children who had been deemed ‘unconventional’ by society, but who – together – used their unique talents to make something of themselves. My classmates from the Small School are some of the most creative, clever and talented people I know. What are your favourite things about being a writer? Letting my peculiar imagination run free. I find coming up with story worlds so creatively satisfying and cannot believe I get to do that for a living. Mainly, however, I love the joy and pride I feel at finishing a book. I think it takes perseverance and stepping outside of your comfort zone to write something of that magnitude, and each time I accomplish that I realise that I’m a lot stronger than I ever realised.

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read either of Hana’s books? Doesn’t the Small School sound incredible?! I’d love to have a chat in the comments!

Amy xx


Author: goldenbooksgirl

Disabled book blogger who also writes TV, film, music and other posts from time to time | UKYABA Champion Teen 2018 | Email: | she/her

6 thoughts on “The Midnighters Blog Tour: Q and A with Hana Tooke”

  1. What a brilliant interview. I am saddened, and yet equally not surprised by the welcome the author received at her ordinary UK school. There is such a long way to go in schooling I think. I am delighted to see Hana’s experiences made her a better person, and brought us a wonderful book. All credit to Hana, her family and determination.

    Liked by 1 person

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