Interview with Lynda Hilburn:
Hi Lynda. Thank you for doing this interview. I would like to welcome you to the Romance at Heart Interview and Author Grilling session. *bg* We are interested to find out as much about you as we possibly can, so lets get started...
- Please tell us about your latest book.
Thank you for asking! My latest book is actually my first fiction sale. Itís a 12,000-word spicy vampire humor/satire w/romance elements, called ďDiary of a Narcissistic Bloodsucker.Ē Itís the story of a very jaded, self-absorbed bad girl Ė who just happens to be a vampire. She loves men and manages to get herself into a predicament because of her tendency to bed them and bleed them. While the story tells about an episode in the vampireís life (her name is Zara), itís a little tongue-in-cheek. I originally wrote it to submit for possible inclusion in an anthology (theyíd asked for the lead character to be a quirky vampire). The anthology didnít happen, but I was able to sell the story.
- What can we expect from you in the future?
I just found out that a publisher is interested in my novel, so Iíve got my fingers crossed that my book (a paranormal urban fantasy w/romance elements), tentatively called ďThe Vampire Shrink,Ē will be coming to a bookstore near you in the not-so-distant future! Itís about a Denver psychologist (Iím a psychotherapist, so thereís a lot of me in this character!) who meets a young vampire-wannabe and gets pulled into the vampire underground. She falls for two men: a gorgeous, ancient bloodsucker and an irreverent FBI agent. Then there are the bad vampires!
My agent keeps asking me how far Iíve gotten with the second book in the series, so Iíll have to stop mumbling and start writing faster.
Iím also working on some more short stories, this time under a pen name (theyíre erotica!), and Iím also in the midst of completing a novella Iíve pitched to two print houses.
- How do we find out about you and your books?
My short story, ďDiary of a Narcissistic Bloodsucker,Ē is available through The Wild Rose Press. I also have blogs: Paranormality Universe Blog and Lair of the Vampire Blog where I post the latest information about my books and stories. Then thereís my website, www.LyndaHilburn.com, which lists my book information in addition to being a general resource for all the other things I do.
- How may readers contact you?
- How many readers/fans contact you?
Since this is my first fiction sale, and I just began doing promotional events, Iíve only heard from a dozen or so readers. As I become more visible, Iím eager to connect with people who read my stories and books! The more the better!
- Do your fans' comments and letters influence you in any way?
Thatís an unknown, because Iím just getting my author legs at this point. I imagine, like anyone, Iíll be upset by the negative comments and uplifted by the positive! At least until I grow some tougher skin!
- Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
The comment I get most often so far is, ďyouíre so funny!Ē Thatís a good thing, since my story is trying to be clever and humorous.
- Why did you decide to write romance novels?
Three years ago (when I switched from writing primarily nonfiction to fiction), I didnít know there was such a huge community of romance writers/readers. I didnít even know that the books I liked were paranormal romance! It took me a while to find my niche within the genre. For me, a story has to have romance to hold my attention. Thatís real life. We all need connections, love, etc. Iím an absolute pushover for a gorgeous man with long hair and soulful eyes. Iím so grateful that I found the romance community, because everything Iíve learned about becoming a published writer, I learned from romance writers!
- How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?
Maybe because Iím a counselor/psychotherapist, but I believe all writers put themselves in their stories. Either itís a blatant reflection of the writerís current reality, or the opposite Ė the personality/experiences she/he wishes were true. Or fears ARE true. Or aspects of the personality come out, showing themselves with ďrealisticĒ or the ďshadowĒ manifestations. My personality and experiences permeate my writing. All of my characters tend to be verbal/cerebral. They (hey, Iím a psychotherapist!) do a lot of introspection and their dialog tends to be layered. ďThe Vampire ShrinkĒ was the first book I completed. The main character (a psychologist) is a clear aspect of myself. Except sheís much prettier, younger and thinner! Zara, the character in ďDiary of a Narcissistic BloodsuckerĒ is witty and self-centered. Iím sure thereís an aspect of me thatís like that, too! And all my other stories. The men I write are my dream men Ė positive and negative. Or theyíre reflections of childhood relationships. I guess Iím saying that all my stories are me in disguise. I tend to write character-driven stories.
- When did you first think about writing and what prompted you to submit your first ms?
It was an inspiration out of the blue. A thump on the head from the universe. A student in one of the hypnotherapy classes I was teaching (this was about 3 years ago), noticed the vampire books in my bookshelf and she asked me if Iíd read a certain authorís work. I hadnít, but the stories and characters sounded so intriguing, that I went right over to my local library and checked out a few. After getting excited about my newly discovered ďparanormal romanceĒ resources, I went nuts reading everything I could find. One day I was sitting in front of my computer and I just started playing around with an idea. After I wrote about a chapter, I surfed the web, looking for writer resources. I was blown away by the scope of the romance writing network. I joined RWA, and my local chapters, and then an organization called Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers in Colorado. Iíve been learning and getting support ever since. I decided to submit 3 chapters/synopsis of ďThe Vampire ShrinkĒ when a published author who judged a contest I was a finalist in suggested it was time I took myself seriously as a writer. And the submissions continue!
- Generally, how long does it take you to write a book?
Since Iíve only written one full-length novel so far, thatís the only experience Iíve had. That book took me 14 months to finish. My short stories and novellas take less time. Iím lucky that I work for myself, so my schedule is flexible. I can pretty much write every day Ė if I can chain myself to the chair long enough.
- Do you have a set schedule for writing or do you just go with the flow?
I definitely go with the flow. Iím a seat-of-the-pants writer. I get an idea, and I sit down and write it. I never know where a story is going until itís finished. Then I go back and see what needs to be added/subtracted/embellished.
- What about your family, do they know not to bother you when you are writing - or are there constant interruptions?
My son is all grown up and living on his own and Iím divorced, so I live alone. The only distractions are the ones I create to keep myself from writing!!
- What do you do to relax and recharge your batteries?
I love to sing, and Ė theoretically Ė take long walks in the mountains. I teach hypnotherapy/visualization techniques, and once in a while I can remember to practice what I preach!
- What truly motivates you in general? In your writing?
Iím motivated by a need to express myself. Iíve always been that way. I started out thinking Iíd be a professional singer for my whole life (and I still love singing and performing), but so many other things drew my attention. I started writing very young Ė mostly nonfiction. Then I got excited about metaphysics and the intuitive arts. Then psychology. Then hypnotherapy. I just canít help myself. Thereís always something new to learn/do! So, I just keep adding things. Writing is wonderful because itís totally up to me when/if I sit down and work. Now, selling the stories is a different thing all together!
- Where do your ideas come from?
Iíve actually gotten a lot of ideas from my psychotherapy clients. For example, the young woman client who comes to the psychologist in ďThe Vampire ShrinkĒ claims to desire to be a vampire. That was inspired by a real client situation. And Iíve spent so many years around metaphysical things, that ideas are everywhere!
- Do you feel humour is important in women's fiction and why?
Well, itís crucial for me. I canít seem to write anything completely serious. I tried recently by writing a novella from the POV of the male vampire. Heís a serious sort. Anyway, turns out the woman he was attracted to was one of those clever, witty types. Who knew? And then, he starts expressing that side of himself! Whatís a writer to do?
- What are your thoughts on love scenes in romance novels, do you find them difficult to write?
Iíve found sex scenes challenging, not because I donít love them, but because Iíve had to learn to be more body-centered (and less head-centered) to write them. Luckily, I have a great crit group which includes a couple of erotica writers. Theyíve taught me a LOT.
- What kind of research do you do?
Everything I write is contemporary. I just have to show up, be with my clients, and pay attention.
- Would you like to write a different genre than you do now, or sub-genre?
So far, Iím a vampire fiend, so to speak. Iíll probably write mostly paranormal, but also have an interest in psychic fiction and psychological thrillers/mysteries. That will be an entirely different learning curve.
- Do you have a favorite author? Favorite book?
I love J.D. Robbís ďDeathĒ series. Sheís created such a wonderful cast of characters. Roarke is, well, awesome. The mystery to be solved in each book is the back-drop for the unfolding of the charactersí lives rather than the central focus. I also like Laurell K. Hamiltonís Anita Blake books. Her vampire, Jean-Claude, is my all-time favorite. I also enjoy Charlaine Harrisís Sookie vampire series. The female lead is multi-layered, sweet-yet-savvy and funny. Jim Butcherís Dresden Files is a favorite, too. Really Ė give me a vampire book and Iím a happy camper.
- Are you a member of any author groups - RWA, critique groups, etc.?
I belong to RWA, and local chapters: Colorado Romance Writers, Heart of Denver Romance Writers, Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers. I also belong to Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and am in two on-line crit groups.
- What do you think of critique groups in general?
That depends on how confident/passionate a writer is. If you go into the crit group, knowing you have skills and are willing to listen to and learn from compassionate, nonjudgmental feedback, theyíre great. If you go into the group feeling insecure, and you find the wrong group, you can be damaged. If the group, or anyone in the group, tends to rewrite what you submit, or canít see beyond their own prejudices to be helpful to you, run in the opposite direction. Despite what many writers say, there really isnít one right way to write.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hmmm. Five years? Iíd like to have at least 3 of the books in my Vampire Shrink series on the bookshelves, plus other projects (novels, novellas, short stories) contracted. Iíd like to be making some portion of my living from writing.
- Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?
Iím a character person. I come up with someone I want to write about, and let the rest of the details arrange themselves.
- Are you in control of your characters or do they control you?
Iíd say we do a fair bit of wrestling. I have general ideas Ė and Iím pretty opinionated Ė but they just skip off in other directions. I usually follow along to see if I like where theyíre going. Since Iíve got a strange sense of humor and a dark side, not much worries me.
- Are there any words of encouragement for unpublished writers?
Some of the best advice I got in the beginning was from published writers. Theyíd been through a lot of the situations most unpubs worry about. They basically said, ďdonít sweat the small stuff.Ē Follow the ďrulesĒ if they work for you. Be professional. Expect a huge file of rejection letters Ė some so cold youíll get frostbite. Write because you love it. Take chances. Dream big. Be persistent. Be persistent. Be persistent.
Thank you for letting me answer these questions!
Thank you very much for taking the time with us and answering our questions. I really appreciate this interruption to your busy schedule. Good Luck, and we will be looking forward to the next delightful creation from your talented imagination!
Yours in good reading,