best-selling author Sophia Hanson

Best-Selling Author Sophia Hanson Balances Life as a Student and Writer

New York University student Sophia Hanson discusses her process and motivation as a writer while also juggling the demands of schoolwork.
February 25, 2018
7 mins read

Sophia Elaine Hanson is a junior English major with a specialization in creative writing at New York University. She lives in Manhattan and grew up in a small town in Iowa. She also happens to be a best-selling author for her “Vinyl” trilogy and collection of poetry, “hummingbird.”

Her “Vinyl” trilogy is an urban fantasy series about a world where all artistic expression — especially real music — is strictly prohibited. Her poetry collection, on the other hand, centers around love, loss and rebirth.

Hanson became interested in writing by being a reader, and she still vividly remembers flying through “Harry Potter” at six or seven years old, both alone and alongside her mother. After reading everything in her school’s library that interested her, Hanson began to write, figuring that if they had nothing that interested her, she would just make something herself.

The enthusiastic reader then became hooked on writing through making chicken scratch marks in her spiral-bound notebook. Ever since, she has been writing a little bit of everything and has become fairly accomplished as a writer in the process.

The “Vinyl” trilogy consists of three books: “Vinyl,” “Radio” and “Siren.” These books are recommended for readers who enjoy dystopian and science fiction novels.

In “Vinyl,” Ronja lives in the edge of the city Revinia, where citizens are controlled by The Music, which is a force that does not allow them to have any independent thought or emotion. Ronja comes across some freedom after her identity is mistaken, but it’s not without a price tag.

The second book, “Radio,” has Ronja recovering from horrific events that happened in the prison Red Bay, and she and her friends are forced to take matters into their own hands to defeat The Music.

In “Siren,” the trilogy comes to a close as Ronja seeks revenge. “hummingbird,” which is a poetry collection, is described as raw and powerful by readers that features short poems and beautiful illustrations to show how love and heartbreak feels and looks like to her.

‘hummingbird’ (Image via Goodreads)

Though she constantly moves through the different processes of writing, publishing and marketing her book, Hanson still manages to balance the demands of her coursework and her job as a writer. “It’s not always easy,” she says.

Sometimes, when the manuscript of her book is with her editor, she finds time easier to manage because there is nothing more that she can do with the text, which allows her to focus more on her schoolwork. Other days, managing her time is more difficult because she will be editing a book and taking four or five classes at the same time.

However, she’s found that by making an intentional effort to block off time for editing, writing and marketing books, she’s able to take care of everything on her plate. When she isn’t writing, Hanson is doing normal college student activities, such as hanging out with friends, exploring the city and watching TV. Her latest favorite show is “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

As you could imagine, being creative on-demand constantly, in addition to completing all her schoolwork and navigating a social life, means that Hanson experiences the same anxieties normal college students face, and then some.

When she finds herself feeling overwhelmed, Hanson typically turns to exercise, meditation, deep breathing, counseling (if it’s more mental) and writing — since it is a form a self-care to a degree. She writes because it’s fun, therapeutic and helps her wrap her head around what’s happening in her life.

‘Vinyl’ (Image via Goodreads)

When it comes to her writing, Hanson says that she has two general types of motivation. The first, an over-arching motivation, is easier to maintain and isn’t an issue because she knows that she wants to be an author.

However, the other type of motivation, her day-to-day motivation, can be difficult to maintain, especially when she’s in the trenches writing. Sometimes, as a writer, when you’re on the third or fourth draft of a manuscript, it can feel as if nothing you’re writing is making any sense. Hanson has experienced a number of such moments, when, upset with the slow progress, she’s asked herself, “Why am I doing this to myself?”

Writing books isn’t easy, but Hanson says that she is lucky to have a following and that her readers motivate her. “I’m beholden to them. I owe it to them to not quit. If you say you’re releasing a book in May and you don’t, they’ll feel upset and let down.”

While she the NYU student certainly writes for herself, she also writes for her readers, as since she believes that “stories belong to the reader as much as they belong to the writer.”

Hanson hasn’t stopped writing, and is in fact currently working on an own-voices bisexual young adult fantasy series, which will be coming out in about a year or two.

Own voices, a type of literature in which the author identifies with the sexuality or race of their protagonist, usually results in a novel that more accurately represents the identity of its main characters. According to Hanson, the new series promises to be darker than her previous work.

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