Interview with Suanne Laqueur, Author of A Small Hotel | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write A Small Hotel?
The protagonist of A Small Hotel, Kennet Fiskare, is the grandfather of Erik Fiskare, the protagonist in my Fish Tales series. After suffering severe trauma in his young adulthood, Erik’s childhood recollections are hazy, even entirely lost. Yet he retains consistent, vivid memories of his grandfather Kennet, a reserved and distant man who showed love in deeds rather than words—for example, he left Erik enough money in his will to go to college.
At the end of Fish Tales, Erik is starting to make contact with his extended family and learn more about his history. He realizes his life and Kennet’s life follow the same trajectory: both ordinary young men were thrown into extraordinary circumstances, both shaped by the traumas of war and violence, both estranged from their first loves yet given a second chance. I wanted to dive deeper into those themes and tell Kennet’s story as a standalone novel. The result is A Small Hotel.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of A Small Hotel, what would they be?
Any version of “A Small Hotel,” by Rodgers & Hart
Carmen Miranda’s “South American Way”
Dinah Shore’s version of “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”
The “Colonel Bogey March” – either instrumental or with parody lyrics.
If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?
I only write blurbs under extreme duress! However, here’s what I wrote after finishing KJ Charles’ The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting:
“Can we declare KJ Charles a national treasure? A world treasure? She never fails. If you read a truly crappy book, go back to KJ Charles to restore your faith in literary humanity. If you read a truly magnificent book and think nothing can top it, go back to KJ Charles because she is consistently dependable to hit your reset button.”
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
My friend Camille and I are huge fans of what we like to call “Stiff Upper Lip Fiction”: works by 20th century British female authors about sensible British dames sorting out problems in their towns and villages, keeping calm and carrying on. Authors like Stella Gibbons, Margery Sharp, Rosamunde Pilcher, and Rumer Godden. We live for this. The closest I’ve come to writing it is the character Marta in A Small Hotel. She’s kind of a rough-edged Mary Poppins.
Do you have any quirky writing habits? Where did you write A Small Hotel?
My quirk is I write longhand in notebooks so yes, Small Hotel was written on couches, in coffee shops, at kitchen tables, on porches, in bed, and even in the car! I don’t recommend the last if you’re prone to motion sickness. I was green-faced while writing, but the idea was too good to let getaway.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
No question, Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice that “done is better than perfect” changed my life. She got it from her mother, and I love how it elevates accomplishment over impossible standards. Every time I near a book’s release and the urge to nitpick and polish and edit is overwhelming, I take a breath and remember, “It’s done. Let it be done. Done is better than perfect.”