Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wisdom from the Author of 60+ Novels, Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin, thank you so much for being with us today! I have heard you have published over 60 novels, correct? Would you care to share a bit of your writing style?

Yes, I’ve released over 60 novels and novellas. I’m currently working on what will be my 65th release. Although I have written contemporary women’s fiction and love telling those kinds of stories, I am focusing right now on historical romance. That’s the genre where I started my career. It’s a natural fit for a history buff who is also a romantic at heart.

My style? The two words that turn up most often in reviews are “heartwarming” and “emotional.” When I analyzed what I do best some years ago, I realized that, more often than not, I make readers cry. Not because the stories are sad (hey, I’m a romance writer!), but because readers come to care what happens to my characters.

Do you travel to the location of your novels?

I love to travel, although I don’t do much of it anymore. Since I set most of my books in Idaho and the Mountain West, an area that is very familiar to me, not a lot of travel is required. I really must come up with a new series idea that takes place somewhere exotic. LOL!

What is the best piece of writing advice you like to give to new writers learning the craft?

Read, read, read. Read how-to books. Read biographies. Read newspapers. Read the kind of novels you hope to write. Analyze as you read. If you get so caught up in a book that you forget to analyze the first time through, that’s really great. Now read it again. Use different colored highlighters and study the best novelists by marking hero dialogue in blue and heroine dialogue in pink and action in green and narration in orange, etc. When a writer evokes a certain emotion in you, ask yourself how they did it.

What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Brainstorming. I love the beginning of a book when everything is possible. I especially love to get together with other writers to toss around ideas for books.

I have heard you mention because of your style you don’t have critique partners, what do you do in your writing to make up for not having a second pair of eyes?

I’m not sure I know how to answer this. I learned, when I did try working with a critique group, that it absolutely messed with my confidence and my ability to hear my characters talking to me and telling the story in their own way. This was around novel #10 or #11. So I returned to doing it without a first reader or critique partner. One of my editors told me years ago to trust my gut. Because I’m an intuitive writer, this is solid advice for me. A great deal of my creativity takes place in my subconscious, so I’ve learned to listen to that voice in my head.

You have written primarily historical fiction, correct? What is your favorite time to portray and what draws you to historical fiction?

Yes, I’ve written mostly historical stories. The vast majority of those historical novels have been set in America in the Victorian and (extended) Edwardian eras, primarily from 1860 to 1919. What draws me? A passion for history, all eras, all places. I love discovering new favorites, like The Kite Runner. I really didn’t know a lot about Afghanistan until I read that novel. Then I was hungry to learn more and more. Philippa Gregory is responsible for the Tudor kick I got into a couple of years ago. Not only did I read all of her novels about Henry VIII and his wives and daughters, but I rented every Netflix documentary and movie about the Tudors. I love learning new things, and no matter how much I read and study, I will never run out of something new to discover.

Generally, where do the ideas for your stories come from?

There is no “generally.” So many different ways. I’ve had a couple of books come from dreams. I’ve had several start with a line of dialogue or narrative popping into my head (twice that I recall when I was driving and once when I was in the dentist chair with the drill going). Some have started with a piece of history I’ve read. The Victory Club started with a sudden desire to write a story about four women friends during WWII who all worked at Gowen Field. Ribbon of Years was birthed during the Columbine tragedy. The book has nothing to do with a school shooting, but I found myself watching the news and wondering how people live out their faith in the midst of something so horrible, which then morphed into the question “what does it mean to walk by faith?” And then my heroine, Miriam, entered my imagination and the book was born.

 What led you to write for the Christian market?

In the early 1990’s, as God restored my relationship with Him, healing hurts and forgiving sins, a desire to write stories that honored Him grew in my heart. And as my walk of faith was strengthened, I became more and more frustrated when God and faith were edited out of my books for the general market. Finally, the right doors were opened and I stepped through.

Thank you so much for being on the Alley with us today. It was a pleasure to meet you at the Idaho Book Extravaganza and I wish you the very best in your writing today and always! 

Website: Robin Lee Hatcher

Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She discovered her vocation after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 60 novels. Her historical romance Catching Katie was named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying plays under the stars. She makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet, the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the kitten who currently terrorizes the household.


Amanda Stephan said...

Wonderful interview, thank you for having her here today!
I really enjoyed her best writing tip for us new writers ~ a great idea indeed.

Casey said...

Hello Amanda, thanks for stopping by! It is an honor to have Robin on the Writer's Alley. We can learn so much for her wisdom! :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

I found many of Robin's comments matched Siri's from yesterday! Expert writers seem to agree.
Thankss for hosting Robin, Casey.
Great post

Casey said...

I had to work yesterday Mary, so I missed your post. I might have to find a minute to go back and read it. :) And yes, I think many authors think along the same lines. ;-)

Angie Dicken said...

Great interview. It is so inspiring to hear from someone who writes in the same genre as me. Thanks Casey and Robin Lee Hatcher!

Casey said...

I agree with you on that one Angie, there is just something about being encouraged/inspired from those who write the same stuff. :)

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Thank you Casey and Robin. I've enjoyed many of Robin Lee Hatcher's books, it's nice to hear her "voice" here. I appreciated her tips for new writers too. Great interview!

Casey said...

So glad you got to stop by and enjoy it Jeanne! Always good to see you on the Alley. :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

How intriguing that Robin doesn't belong to a critique group. Hhhhhm. Just goes to show you that rules are made to be broken ... and sometimes that's the best advice.
Loved this interview. Robin is a wonderful writer. One of my favorites.

Casey said...

Beth, when I heard her talk about this at the class I took from her, I about gasped. But she makes it work, so you're right, rules are meant to be broken. :)

Pepper said...

okay Case,
besides this being a GREAT interview, it was extremely timely.
I love reading Robin's historicals. They are so rich with character development and subtle humor - and the time period is fab too.
Still love Woody to DEATH!

But what she mentioned about 'hearing' your writers and being an intuitive writer REALLY spoke to me.

Susan Anne Mason said...

I love books that make you cry (in a good way, especially!).

Must read some of Robin's.

Great interview!!!