By Katya Mendoza
As a winter visitor from Langley, British Columbia, Alyssa Hall was inspired by the five mountain ranges surrounding Tucson to start writing during the pandemic.
In spring, she’ll release her fourth novel in two and a half years, “Hero of Blackpool.”
“I can’t see how anyone couldn’t just come and exhale and get lost in it,” Hall says.
Her sister, who married an American, was sent to the Southwest for work.
“We came to visit in 2007, and on that weekend we bought a house,” she says. Since then, the Halls have split their time between Sun City Oro Valley; Langley, British Columbia; and occasionally Yorkshire, England, where her husband is from.
Hall’s most recent novel, “Romero Pools,” illustrates her love and connection with the scenery and Santa Catalinas, while unfolding a larger story of love, lies and murder. It’s an extension of her first novel, 2020’s “Trusting Claire,” which takes place about 15 years later. Hall’s work is carefully constructed of nuances, relationships and psychological intrigue. Her second novel, “Wanting Aidan,” which was published toward the end of 2020, was inspired by Ann Cleeves, Louise Penny and “all those other British detective crime writers,” Hall says.
Keen toward the intrigue and conspiring plots, Hall says she hopes her readers can identify strengths in vulnerability and of the human spirit.
“I love writing about people and about people’s feelings about what life can do to you and all kinds of trauma,” Hall says. “I think it empowers people to have gone through those struggles, and it makes you stronger.”
Born and raised in Toronto, Hall grew up in a family of displaced Russian refugees after World War II. Raised by her single mother, Hall was one of five children who migrated west to Vancouver, British Columbia.
The last sibling to move, Hall was in her 30s and a single parent when she met her friend Frank Giampa through her job at the school district in Coquitlam, British Columbia.
“He always made me feel like I could do things that I couldn’t do,” Hall says. “It meant a lot to me that he would read my manuscripts before they went to publishing, and he was a very positive influence on my life.”
She says Giampa believes she has a wild imagination. One day, after a walk on a pier, Hall offered alternative endings to Netflix’s “Ozark.”
“He said, ‘Write a screenplay, or better yet write for yourself,’” Hall says. “I didn’t know what to write.”
After a few weeks of back and forth, one rainy Sunday morning in 2019, Hall got started. “I looked (at my husband) and said, ‘I’m going to go write a book’ and he said, ‘OK,’” she recalls.
Five chapters later, a semi-autobiographical work emerged.
“I probably could have started sooner, but I think it was meant to be, I think fate has a way of deciding,” Hall says. “Frank used to always say, ‘Too bad you didn’t start when you were younger,’ but I didn’t. There’s no point in even talking about it. But I did start now, so that’s all that matters.”
Hall says that around every corner is a mystery. She’s always excited about writing them.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I might have been so melodramatic my whole life, I just love the intrigue of a mystery,” Hall says.
“Hero of Blackpool”
Hitting stores in March