In her debut novel, Sadie Hoagland, M.A. ’09, tells a fictional story of faith, cruelty and redemption through eight adolescent narrators.
Strange Children (Red Hen Press, 2021) is set in a polygamist commune in the desert — a girl and boy fall in love, breaking religious law. After they are caught, their paths diverge, leading to murder and a crime that will unravel the community. The book is due out in May.
“The book is called Strange Children, because even the conception of a child is different [in this culture],” said Hoagland, who is also an associate professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “If you are conceiving of children as being able to be married at such young ages, it’s an older conception, compared to how we perceive them in our dominant culture.”
Hoagland uses point of view — with eight separate narrators — to show how perspectives differ depending upon who is telling the story. Here, Hoagland shares more about the book and what’s next for her as an author.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, from a pretty young age I wanted to be a writer. I wrote a novel at the age of 8 about a dog that went missing in the neighborhood. I was always writing plays for my friends to act in. I definitely always did, however, I didn’t always feel like it was feasible, because I felt that I couldn’t make a living as a writer, or there wasn’t a career for me. So I majored in psychology, which I loved, but it wasn’t until I got to the UC Davis graduate program when I felt that I could do this.