The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Meet Adi Rule

At Bayswater Book Co., 12 Main St., Center Harbor, 253-8858: Saturday, June 28, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the New England Author Fair
At MainStreet BookEnds, 16 E. Main St., Warner, 456-2700: Sunday, June 29, from 2 to 4 p.m.
At the Lee Public Library, 9 Mast Road, Lee, 659-2626: Tuesday, July 8, at 6:30 p.m.
At the Hopkinton Town Library, Houston Drive, Hopkinton, 746-3663: Thursday, July 10, at 7 p.m.
At the Oscar Foss Memorial Library, 11 S. Barnstead Road, Center Barnstead: Thursday, July 17, at 6 p.m.

Writing vs. singing
Debut novelist Adi Rule weighs them in Strange Sweet Song

By Kelly Sennott

 Adi Rule’s protagonist in her debut novel, Strange Sweet Song, is a girl named Sing.

Fittingly enough, Sing loves to sing. She’s thrilled to be accepted to the prestigious Dunhammond Conservatory and given the chance to prove her worth, rather than being known as the daughter of a world-renowned musician. But getting in, it seems, is just the beginning; the book follows Sing’s confidence issues, but also her lurking suspicion there’s something more dangerous on her school grounds than her understudy position.
In one respect, Rule says she’s very similar to the character she’s created. Rule also loves to sing; she majored in voice at the University of New Hampshire as an undergrad in 2001, and currently performs (and has soloed with) the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She’s dealt with confidence issues singers have to face first-hand. 
“We share some difficulties that I think are common to all singers — that in order to be successful, you have to have this kind of confidence. … I teach voice, and 80 percent of it is being a psychiatrist,” she said in an interview, right outside Cafe la Reine in Manchester.
Readers in the New Hampshire scene, however, may see another link between author and protagonist; Rule is also the daughter of a celebrity, New Hampshire humorist, storyteller and author Rebecca Rule.
“The mom in this dies onstage dramatically in front of hundreds of people. That’s definitely not autobiographical,” Rule said, laughing. “Sing’s mom is definitely not my mom. But in terms of my own writing, my mom has always been very supportive.”
Writing was always valued in the Rule household. As a kid, her parents would take her and her friends to poetry readings and literary events.
“We just thought that was normal,” Rule said. “But I guess it’s not really that normal! … Writing was always there when I was a kid. But I never thought I’d be a writer. I thought I was going to be a singer, I thought I was going to be in theater. To be a singer, it really has to be not only your first love, but it has to be your only love. It really does. I  know a lot of people for whom that is definitely the case, but I’m not one of them.”
Rule taught at Pathfinder Academy in Epsom for six years between her time at UNH (she graduated in 2001) and the Vermont College of Fine Arts (where she earned her MFA in 2010). It became clear how unusual this literary upbringing might have been while she was substitute teaching after Pathfinder closed.
She gave the students worksheets and told them that, after they finished, they may read or draw or write. A student raised her hand.
“What do you mean, write?” the student asked. “Write something,” Rule said. “Write what?” Rule was startled.
“It was like she had never heard of this concept before. And I hope this is an abnormality, but I never felt that I had to ask that question in my house,” Rule said. “Writing was validated in my house. It was something that was OK to spend hours doing.”
Rule was always a writer, even when she thought she’d be a professional singer. She wrote plays for local companies and helped run a summer theater camp in Northwood for 10 years. She wrote for herself, too; when a novel she’d written became considered for publication, she decided to jump into the literary world head first. 
It was at VCFA she began writing Strange Sweet Song. The book, while just half finished, won the 2010 Houghton Mifflin/Clarion prize for novels. She was still teaching while she wrote it.
“I let the kids hear the first draft. They wanted me to kill a lot more people than I did, but their feedback was wonderful,” Rule said.
The book just came out early spring, but she’s already looking ahead to the next, tentatively called Redwing, which is set to come out a year from now. 
“The goal, at first, is to have your name on this book on a shelf in Barnes & Noble. But once it’s there, you see that’s not really the goal. You realize it’s just one step in this path you’re on,” Rule said. “The best part of writing is the writing.” 
As seen in the June 26, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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