Pigeon Pages Interview with Hannah Tinti

Photo by Honorah Tinti

Photo by Honorah Tinti


Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?

I’ve never owned a bird, but I’ve always enjoyed Italo Calvino’s “The Parrot,” from his collection of Italian Folktales. It’s all about the importance of telling a good story, and keeping your audience engaged, no matter what.

What is your most memorable reading experience?

I have a strong memory of getting my first library card at six years old. The library allowed us to check out five books at a time, and I stacked up a pile and left the building with my arms full, feeling incredibly rich.

What makes you most excited about The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley?

That I was able to finish it.

To tweet or not to tweet?

I enjoy twitter but I rarely tweet. Some authors have found a way to negotiate it very well and use it in a positive way, but it can also be a swirl of anxiety.

What books do you have in your bag right now?

My journal and several transcripts from the Salem witch trials of 1692.

Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?

I once had a story rejected 50 times. The 51st magazine I submitted to took it. When I finally sent my collection out, the editor who bought it told me that story was what clinched it for her. So you never know what is going to appeal (or not appeal). You just have to keep trying. I often tell my students: it’s not the best writers who end up getting published. It’s the ones that don’t give up.

What literary journals do you love?

One Story, which I co-founded in 2002 with Maribeth Batcha.

What shakes your tail feathers?


What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

When you start out, getting published is everything. But once you’ve been through it, the goal posts move, and then they move again, and you start to realize that what is more important is the community you find along the way, and always, always the process—capturing something true with your words and that feeling of connection it brings to your life.

What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?

I’ve been working very hard the past few months to launch the Adina Talve-Goodman Fellowship, which is now open for submissions. This educational fellowship will offer a year-long mentorship on the craft of fiction writing with One Story magazine. Our goal is to support an emerging writer whose work speaks to issues and experiences related to inhabiting bodies of difference. This means writing that explores being in a body marked by difference, oppression, violence, or exclusion; often through categories of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, religion, illness, disability, trauma, migration, displacement, dispossession, or imprisonment. In this way, we hope to give someone outside the fold a significant boost in their career. The fellowship is named for Adina Talve-Goodman, One Story’s former managing editor, who was working on her first book when she passed away earlier this year from cancer. For more information, visit: one-story.com.


Hannah Tinti is the author of the bestselling novel The Good Thief, which won The Center for Fiction’s first novel prize, and the story collection Animal Crackers, a runner-up for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her new novel, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, is a national bestseller and has been optioned for television. She teaches creative writing at New York University’s MFA program and co-founded the Sirenland Writers Conference. Tinti is also the co-founder and executive editor of One Story magazine, which won the AWP Small Press Publisher Award, CLMP’s Firecracker Award, and the PEN/Magid Award for Excellence in Editing.