A native New Englander, Elise Hooper spent several years writing for television and online news outlets before getting a MA and teaching high-school literature and history. Her debut novel The Other Alcott was a nominee for the 2017 Washington Book Award. Three more novels—Learning to See, Fast Girls, and Angels of the Pacific—followed, all centered on the lives of extraordinary but overlooked historical women. Elise now lives in Seattle with her husband and two teenage daughters. You can read a great interview she did with Kelleen back in 2020 for the release of Fast Girls here.
Miriam: I loved The Other Alcott and Fast Girls. We're big fans and happy to have you on the blog. Let's start with your first visit to Island Books. Where were you in your career then, and what stood out about the store?
Elise: If I remember things correctly, I was on Mercer Island because my younger daughter had swim practice at the Mercerwood Shore Club. This must have been sometime in the winter of 2017 because it was already dark and rainy and my first book, The Other Alcott, had not yet been released. Usually when my daughter had these practices, I'd find a spot in the clubhouse and work on my second book, but I was feeling restless and had just heard about Island Books, so I decided to drop off the swim carpool kids and go on a little literary island adventure. Because, duh, why work when you can visit a bookstore?
When I walked in the bookstore, I found the staff gathered around an opened bottle of champagne and they were celebrating, although I can't remember what the occasion was. The amazing part was that they poured me a glass and we started chatting. Instantly I felt at home. Books, bubbles, and smiling, welcoming faces on a dark and rainy night? Clearly the store was my kind of place. That evening marked the beginning of a great relationship.