Kristin Hannah, bestselling author of ‘Firefly Lane,’ on her unlikely road to success

Francesca Gariano
·3 min read

For Kristin Hannah, mom knew best!

Hannah is a bestselling author and the mastermind behind novels like "Firefly Lane" and "The Nightingale" and for nearly thirty years, her books have become a staple at bookstores. Now, her work is starting to get the Hollywood treatment, including “Firefly Lane,” which has become a breakout hit for Netflix.

But for “The Four Winds” author, it wasn't always a clear path to success. Hannah sat down with Dylan Dreyer on Weekend TODAY to discuss her unlikely journey to becoming an author and what inspired her to write her first book.

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Kristin Hannah is the author multiple bestsellers, including
Kristin Hannah is the author multiple bestsellers, including

Hannah never thought writing would turn into her career. "I was not always creative. I was a lawyer before this," she revealed to Dylan.

It was Hannah's late mother who encouraged her to put pen to paper.

“My mom said ‘Don’t worry, honey. Don’t worry about your classes, you’re gonna be a writer anyway,’” she recalled.

Hannah’s books have since topped bestseller lists, and the TV adaptation of her 2008 novel “Firefly Lane” starring Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke, became the No. 1 streamed show on Netflix the week it premiered.

"Firefly Lane" tells a touching story about how the lives of two friends, Tully Hart and Kate Mularkey, intersect and intertwine over decades as they grow up and face various milestones. The show gives viewers a raw look into two women’s lives, from their teenage to midlife years, and everything in between.

“They're essentially soulmates in a way,” Hannah said of Tully and Kate, portrayed by Heigl and Chalke respectively. “Especially as we get older, friends really keep us afloat during a lot of the hard times in our life. And I think it's really nice to see that reflected on screen.”

As for Hannah’s next on-screen adaptation, her 2015 historical fiction novel “The Nightingale” is being made into a movie and will debut next year. "The Nightingale" tells the story of two sisters in France during World War II who struggle to survive after Germany occupies France. The film will star two real-life sisters, actors Dakota and Elle Fanning, a casting choice Hannah loved.

“This casting that they've chosen, sisters playing sisters and they're the right age,” she said. “To see a female-driven World War II film, where it's these young women who do the heavy lifting and save lives and risk their own lives.”

Hannah said she strives to write stories centered around women. “There’s a lot of stories about men being heroes and men being heroic and men surviving adversity. And I think it's really important for us, for our daughters, for our granddaughters, to put women back into that landscape,” she explained.

Even though Hannah’s mother passed away years before her first book was published, the two did write Hannah's first book together. The book, however, will never see the light of day and is tucked away in a box labeled “even after death, do not publish.”

Hannah says she think her mother would be proud of her success. ”You know, I think she is sitting somewhere with a martini and she is telling everyone around her, ‘See? I told her this is what was going to happen.’”