BLOGWORDS – Saturday 25 February 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN LEE HATCHER
CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN LEE HATCHER
“… after several years of heart preparation, Robin accepted God’s call to write stories of faith and hasn’t looked back since.”
“My storytelling career began in grade school when I told my fifth grade friends that my mother was born in a covered wagon while coming west on the Oregon Trail.”
rem: Hullo, Robin, and welcome. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
ROBIN: I am an Idaho native, born and raised in Boise. I have lived in Boise or a neighboring town my entire life and can’t see myself living anywhere else, although I do enjoy visiting other places. I think I have seven states left to go and then I can say I have visited all 50. I’m a wife, mom of two, grandmother of six. In addition to writing, I am a part-time college student with a goal of getting my degree before I need a walker to go up to get it in the ceremony.
rem: ‘Nother place on my list of places to visit—and people to see! 😉 Tell us three things about yourself.
ROBIN: I love most animals but particularly horses, dogs, and cats. I’ve had a love affair with books and storytelling since I was a little girl, although I didn’t dream of being a writer; I wanted to be an actress. My two daughters and I all wore the same wedding dress, and in recent years, we were all three college students at the same time, too.
rem: I love that about the shared wedding dress! ❤ Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?
ROBIN: Coffee with Italian Sweet Crème creamer. Several cups throughout the morning.
rem: Ya, gotta have the morning cuppa! What do you do as a hobby?
ROBIN: This past year, I began to do Bible art journaling. It’s been an amazing way to get into the Word and to worship the Lord. I love using paints and watercolors and other mediums. I also enjoy decorative planning and knitting. And I listen to lots of audio books.
rem: I love your pics of your Bible journaling. Your movie snack of choice?
ROBIN: Popcorn with real butter.
rem: Yup, gotta. Would you bungee ?
rem: LOL Rolling stones or Beatles?
ROBIN: Oh my goodness. The Beatles, hands down.
rem: Me too. Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?
ROBIN: I have many, many favorites. God has used so many different verses throughout my life. But I’ll go with Isaiah 42:16: “I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone.” (Isaiah 42:16, NASB95). I had just accepted my first contract offer to write for the Christian market (after 30 books in the general mass market), and I was almost paralyzed with fear that I wouldn’t be able to write the book. It would be my first contemporary novel as well as first Christian novel, and I didn’t know anything about it other than the opening scene which had come to me in a dream. God used this verse to calm my fears and tell me it didn’t matter if I didn’t know where the story was going. He did.
rem: Robin, that’s beautiful. I love when Father speaks to us that way. What is your favorite bird and why?
ROBIN: The American Bald Eagle. They are majestic.
rem: That they are. Do you like to fly? What’s the farthest you’ve ever flown?
ROBIN: I used to love to fly before it got so complicated with all of the necessary security (i.e. making packing complicated). The farthest I’ve flown was to Okinawa, Japan. That’s where my first grandson was born.
rem: I flew last year in June, first time since 9-11. I was also four months post surgery so I “skated” through security! When is your birthday?
ROBIN: May 10th.
rem: What is your favourite birthday memory? All-time favorite birthday gift?
ROBIN: My favorite birthday happened maybe eight or so years ago. It was just a lunch with both of my daughters at a fun little restaurant, but the memory is extra precious to me. My youngest daughter moved far away within the next few years, and so we don’t get those moments as easily anymore.
rem: Love those moments like that—seem so ordinary at the time. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
ROBIN: I believe that Christian fiction should always honor God and encourage and uplift His people. Whatever the Lord has taught me or is teaching me eventually makes its way into my books.
rem: Yes, fiction is truer than life sometimes. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
ROBIN: I don’t want “hopeless” endings as happens in many general market novels. I don’t need a perfect” happily ever after” ending, but I do want hope. Pet peeve? Anything gratuitous.
rem: Well, life isn’t “perfect happily ever after.” Had a discussion on FB with some other authors about that this week. Which is more important: plot or characters?
ROBIN: Well, both are important. But if an author doesn’t create believable, interesting characters, then the readers won’t care what happens to them (the plot), no matter how wonderful it is.
rem: Right, who cares what happens to cardboard people? What would you do if you weren’t writing?
ROBIN: As long as money wasn’t an issue, I would buy a horse stable and arena and play with horses all day long.
rem: That is SO you!! ❤ What are you reading right now?
ROBIN: College textbooks (as a student) and RITA Award contest entries (as a judge). The audiobook I’m listening to for pleasure is Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund.
rem: Busy busy brain! What do you munch on while they write?
ROBIN: I don’t. My fingers are on the keyboard so no way to snack. Seriously, I have never eaten while writing.
rem: Very true, busy brain, busy fingers… Tell us a little about your writing journey.
ROBIN: I was an avid reader and a fan of the big historical sagas that were popular in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I got an idea for a story but didn’t do anything with it. Then I read an article in the local newspaper about a woman whose first book was published, and I decided to give it a try. I wrote longhand on legal pads at night and typed the pages on my coffee breaks and lunch hours at work. Nine months later it was finished, and I queried a bunch of publishers I found in The Writer’s Market. I sold it, the publisher went bankrupt a few months later, I resold it and the sequel the following year, and the rest, as they say, is history.
rem: And a great history it is, too! You have shared your Bible art and journaling on your blog. Tell us how you got started.
ROBIN: In late 2015, I heard about The Inspire Bible that was coming out from Tyndale. That led me to YouTube videos of people who were art journaling in their Bibles. I have always written in the margins of my Bible and used colorful pens and highlighters. Art journaling was just one more step along that same path, another way to interact with the Word.
rem: I.love.it! I, too, used multi-colored highlights and pens to make notes, haven’t taken the step to art journaling though—yet… What do you feel is the value and importance of Bible journaling?
ROBIN: The value comes from a believer spending more time contemplating and interacting with Scripture. If it is done for any other reason, it has no importance.
rem: In essence true for any activity with Scripture. Father’s Word is not an easy careless read. But every exposure to His Word shines His light, maybe a crack, maybe flooding your heart with His presence. You started out writing for the general fiction market. Tell us what prompted you to write Christian Fiction.
ROBIN: The short answer is, God prompted me. After I dreamed the opening for what would become The Forgiving Hour, I knew it was a novel where God would be a central character, and due to my faith having been cut from some of my secular novels, I knew it couldn’t be written for my general market publisher. But I also knew that I couldn’t move to writing Christian fiction without a specific call of God upon my life. I prayed about it for months. I asked Him to use a two-by-four if necessary. And one day, in church, He did just that. That was in October 1997.
rem: Ah yes, the “two-by-four” moment. I think we’ve all had [a few of] those. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
ROBIN: I write six days a week, mostly in the mornings. I have an office in my home, and I do most my writing on my iMac at my desk. Occasionally I move with my laptop to a recliner in the living room.
rem: What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
ROBIN: Around the middle of every book, I start wondering why I ever thought I could write a book. I know I will never manage to finish the new book and that I would rather do just about anything else than write. How do I handle it? I keep writing. When I was a bookkeeper, I kept books for my employer whether I wanted to or not. That’s what I was paid to do. I’m a writer. It is my job. So I sit down and write, whether or not I feel like it.
rem: And yet, more than 75 books later, you’re still cranking them out! Ya must be doing something right! 😉 Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
ROBIN: Creating. Because anything is possible then.
rem: Ooohhh, I like that answer! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
ROBIN: Having written. I can’t say I always love writing but I always love having written.
rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?
ROBIN: DO: (1) Read, read, read. Read everything. Your favorite genres and everything else too. (2) Write, write, write. If nothing else, make lists. (3) Remember, if you write one page per day, you will have a 365 page novel at the end of one year. DON’T DO: (1) Don’t listen to the negative voices in your head. (2) Be careful who you trust with your work. (3) In this day and age when it is so easy to self-publish, resist the urge to publish before you and your work are ready.
rem: All gems, but especially the last “don’t”—which I did when I was green and naïve… Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
ROBIN: I have no clue. I just wait for an idea to catch my imagination and refuse to let go.
rem: Seems that’s where the best ones come from, the elusive mists of yon. How do you choose your characters’ names?
ROBIN: I look in baby books and character name books and bibliographies and the credits at the end of movies, etc. And at some point, the character says to me, “That’s it. That’s my name.”
rem: Yup, most of mine introduce themselves to me. Minor and secondary characters, I get to pick names for. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?
ROBIN: No. I write by the seat of my pants. I don’t know what will happen until I write it.
rem: Meeee toooo. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
ROBIN: My April release is You’ll Think of Me. Here’s the blurb:
Abandoned once too often, Brooklyn Myers never intended to return to Thunder Creek, Idaho. Her hometown holds too many memories of heartache and rejection. But when her estranged husband Chad Hallston dies and leaves his family home and acreage to her and their ten-year-old daughter Alycia, it’s an opportunity to change their lives for the better—a chance Brooklyn can’t pass up, for Alycia’s sake if not her own.
Derek Johnson, Chad’s best friend since boyhood, isn’t keen on the return of Brooklyn Myers to Thunder Creek. He still blames her for leading his friend astray. And now she has ruined his chance to buy the neighboring ten acres which would have allowed him to expand his organic farm. To add insult to injury, Chad’s dying request was that Derek become the father to Alycia that Chad never was. How can he keep that promise without also spending time with the girl’s mother?
Brought together by unexpected circumstances, Derek and Brooklyn must both confront challenges to their dreams and expectations. He must overcome long held misconceptions about Brooklyn while she must learn to trust someone other than herself. And if they can do it, they just might discover that God has something better in mind than either of them ever imagined
As for my current project, I just turned in what will be my 78th release, so I am without a project as mull over some ideas rolling around in my head.
rem: And now I wanna read it—of course. What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?
ROBIN: My favorite part of You’ll Think of Me is watching Brooklyn, a “daddyless daughter” (which I am too; my dad died when I was an infant), overcome the pain of not having an earthly father who loves her. Daughters growing up without fathers is an epidemic in our society and causes more damage than most people know.
rem: Sadly, I am all too familiar with it. Tell us about why you wrote this book.
ROBIN: I wrote this book for the same reason I write every book. The characters entered my imagination and insisted their stories be told.
rem: Right. They start taking, nattering at you, and they won’t.shut.up. Please give us the first page of the book.
Brooklyn Myers sat on the narrow stretch of lawn beside the brick apartment building, watching her ten-year-old daughter. On this balmy Saturday afternoon, Alycia lay on her stomach in the grass while reading a book they’d checked out at the library that morning. Reading, thanks to the public library, was one habit Brooklyn not only approved of but could afford to encourage. When a mother and child survived on a waitress’s salary, toys and other gadgets were a luxury. As was most everything else.
A headache threatened, and Brooklyn closed her eyes, rubbing her temples with her fingertips. Thank goodness she didn’t have to work today. She’d put in a lot of overtime in recent weeks and was in need of rest. Rest that always seemed just out of reach.
“Brooklyn?” Esther Peterman called from the second-story landing. “May I join you?”
Brooklyn looked toward the stairwell. “Of course.”
The rail-thin woman flashed one of her brave smiles before slowly heading down the final flight of stairs, a folded lawn chair clasped in one hand. She was only in her late forties, but she moved as if she were eighty.
Brooklyn’s heart clenched at the sight. As far as she was concerned, Esther was—and had always been—a godsend. She couldn’t begin to imagine how she and Alycia would have managed over the past decade without this kindly neighbor. Or how they were going to manage without her in the future.
rem: Yup, I’m hooked. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
ROBIN: I have two goals for every book: (1) That the reader will be entertained and (2) that they will have taken a step closer to Christ by the end of the book.
rem: Anything you’d like to add?
ROBIN: No. Thanks for having me.
rem: Thank you so much for chatting with us on my blog today!
rem: Where can we find you online?
“Robin is a gifted writer whose novels unfailingly stir and challenge readers’ hearts.”
— Francine Rivers, NYT bestselling author
#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Robin Lee Hatcher, In His Arms, Heart Rings, Whispers from Yesterday, Keeper of the Stars, A Promise Kept, Firstborn