Blogging is an odd beast. A writer sits alone at a keyboard and writes for no one in particular and everyone at the same time. After enjoying a career in Business Development and Marketing (meaning I connected with lots of folks on a daily basis to impart a targeted message), the solitary aspect of fiction writing and blogging has had its surreal moments. I no longer find it strange to talk out loud to myself, and the hand gestures and facial expressions are part of my new normal. Although, my husband may beg to differ.
SinC Q: If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?
CJH: I had to start with the most important question first. It's key that the question asked for a mentor position rather than "one piece of advice" for a new writer. I may have had another professional life, but as a writer I'm the new girl in town. Writing is hard on several levels. It's hard be disciplined to write every day. It's hard to break through writer's block. It's hard to stay true to your voice and be fresh. It's hard to take criticism and grow from it, and not let it squelch you. Then, once a book is out, your work is just beginning. Today's industry requires you to initiate reader contact by putting yourself out there in any number of ways. Being successful is not a sprint, but a well-paced marathon. Where one piece of advice would be to be relentless and not give up on any front, a mentoring position requires identifying the key essence of a new writer's brand and personal goals for writing. Then the fun becomes figuring out the steps to get there, both strategically and efficiently. Blog. Say "yes" to every opportunity and create your own to talk about your work. Network. Listen. Write. Tweet. Speak. Like. Pin. But don't lurk. That's too creepy.
SinC Q: Which authors have inspired you?
CJH: To be a good writer, you have to be a voracious reader. Stieg Larsson, Gillian Flynn, Tom Wolfe, John Grisham and Stephen King are among my favorites. They each carve interesting characters with a unique voice and are masters of their craft. Jodi Piccoult weaves compelling stories.
SinC Q: If someone said, "Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men," how would you respond?
CJH: I'd hand them an armload of Dublin Murder Squad books by Tana French and tell them to get lost.
SinC Q: What's the best part of the writing process for you? What's the most challenging?
I LOVE creating characters and worlds. I love figuring out their motivations and quirks, and breeding in fatal flaws. Writing a good thriller is like playing a game of chess with my characters. I love writing to a very smart reader to see if I can be true to them while keeping them guessing and enthralled. The most challenging piece is finding fresh ways to find readers and engage their interest.
SinC Q: What books are on your nightstand now?
CJH: "There Was an Old Woman: A Novel of Suspense" by Hallie Ephron
The fun part about a blog hop is to introduce you to other authors. First is Laurie Bain Wilson. Laurie's writing has taken her to the ends of the earth and back as the travel editor for Bridal Magazine and blogger and travel writer for CNN and the Boston Globe. Her blog on The Big Apple is here and Travel Flavors blog is here.
Next up is Dale T. Phillips. Dale is a fellow Sisters in Crime member (yes, even guys can be Sisters). He writes novels and poetry, and his short stories have appeared in Level Best Books Crime Story anthologies. He has a website, and his blog is worthy of a frequent perusal as he is very active with author and book events.