Friday, August 31, 2012

Interview with Author Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen

R.K. Hinrichsen (Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen) writes both fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. She enjoys history, fantasy, suspense, and learning about real-life heroes. Besides her Heroes of the Highest Order, chapter book series, she has published two suspense novels, Missing and Trapped. She travels with her husband throughout the world in search of fun settings and exciting characters for her stories.

Welcome back to my blog, Ronda. Please tell us about your new children’s book.

The Prisoner of the Shadows is book #2 in my Heroes of the Highest Order series. It’s about two children, Dan and Page, who move between a fantasy world and real-life history to earn powerful treasures that will eventually help them destroy the enemy of the Hidden Kingdom. In this book, the children walk in the footsteps of Mother Teresa to rescue their grandfather from the Prison of the Shadows.

This is a new experience for you since you usually write suspenseful sweet romances. Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

This series has been in my mind for so long I really can’t remember where the idea first came from. I’ve just always thought children are amazing. They have the power to do great things, and I want to encourage them to do those great things.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

Besides traveling to some of the settings, I read biographies about Mother Teresa. I also contacted her official organization for permissions and correct information.

That is so awesome. I’m impressed with your research. I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you ever put real experiences in your books?

Most definitely! Especially in this series because the premise of the story is that the children follow in the footsteps of real, historical heroes.

This book sounds like a wonderful book for children. Thanks for this fun interview.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Interview with Romance/Adventure Author Caroline Clemmons

Caroline and her husband live with their menagerie of rescued pets on a small acreage in North Central Texas. She has two grown daughters and is the award-winning author of ten fiction books, three novellas, and two family books. Caroline writes full time. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with family, reading, traveling, researching genealogy, or browsing antique malls and estate sales.

Welcome back to my blog, Caroline. Please tell us about your cozy mystery, Digging For Death.

Thank you for asking. DIGGING FOR DEATH is the first of the Heather Cameron mysteries. She has taken over managing her family’s garden center and landscape design business from her grandfather. Her parents died when she was eight and her maternal grandparents raised her. This is her first major design project since she assumed control and she wants it to go well so her grandfather will know he was right to retire.

Here’s the blurb: Garden center manager Heather Cameron is DIGGING FOR DEATH to prove her old family friend, mentor, and employee, Walter Sims, is innocent of murdering the meanest man in town. Heather can’t trust the police to find the real killer when all clues point to poor Walter. The dead man was beaten to death with Walter’s shovel several hours after they were overheard arguing, and the two men had a long history of enmity. Walter definitely looks guilty, but Heather is sure—well, almost positive—okay, she certainly hopes her friend and mentor is innocent.

Heather is compelled to scour the fictional North Central Texas town of Gamble Grove to exonerate her old friend. She’s encouraged when the new police detective in town, Kurt Steele, shows interest in helping her look for clues. The deeper Heather digs into the dead man’s life, the more she justifies his ruthless reputation. Walter is indicted, but police begin to suspect the victim’s stepson as murderer. Heather is convinced the stepson couldn’t have murdered anyone either—although it’s clear no love was lost between the two men. The attempted murder of the victim’s real son creates a new twist. Can Heather solve the murder without becoming the killer’s next victim?

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

It came to me when my family and I were at Weston’s Gardens in Fort Worth. Weston’s is a family-run center and they do landscape design and have a nice garden open on special days. You know how it is once your mind starts going “what if” and you come up with a cast of characters who just won’t stop talking to you. ☺ Then when my family were in Jefferson, Texas, I spotted the house that would be perfect for my book. I took lots of photos so I could be certain to remember it, but they weren’t necessary because the house exactly matched the one in my head.

That is so interesting. What kind of research did you do for this book?

I loved flower gardening, until our electric water well got too low to have a successful garden, and I used to spend several hours a day working on my plants and lawn. Roses are my favorite flower, and at one time we had almost fifty roses across the front yard. Now we just have a few of the new Earthkind drought and disease resistant roses plus a pink wild rose my daughter brought me from her acreage east of Dallas. I have a friend, Jeanmarie Hamilton, whose family used to have a garden center, and I picked her brain. My eldest daughter is a Master Gardener and helps me also. I visited garden centers, especially Weston Gardens, and read gardening books. I also read about some of the heirloom and trendy plants, how they’re marketed, and generally immersed myself in gardening books.

I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you ever put real experiences in your books and why?

Sort of. The great-grandmother in DIGGING FOR DEATH is based on a cross between my mom and a friend who is currently 104. My mom was decorous until she was in her late 80’s, then she said whatever popped into her head -- whether it was nice or not. Don’t get me wrong, she was a wonderful woman and mother who worked hard all her life. I suppose she was entitled to be eccentric after all that time. 

In addition, Linda, I believe we compress our life experiences and extricate whatever we need for our books, don’t you? We each have experienced anger, sadness, determination, and many other feelings on which we can draw for writing. We pull out this characteristic or that backstory and use it, but we aren’t using the whole of any person’s identity or events.

Thank you so much for this interview, Caroline. I really enjoyed it. This is an ebook giveaway and we have many other ebooks below to enter. Have fun checking them out.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Ruth J. Hartman

Ruth is a multi-published author of sweet, funny romances, a children’s book and a memoir. She also works part-time as a dental hygienist. She’s been married for 30 years to her best friend Garry. They live in rural Indiana with their two spoiled cats.

Welcome back to my blog, Ruth. You write Humorous Contemporary Romance. Please tell us about Better Than Catnip.

Roxy Williams loves cats more than anything. She runs a stray cat shelter and that’s pretty much her life. Until she meets Derek Weller and his dad, Max. Derek has to complete community service for fighting in school and the only available place is the cat shelter. Derek has only lived with Max for a short time, due to his parents not being together. So Max is unaware that Derek had a bad experience as a little boy and is now terrified of cats. Max and Roxy try to figure out how to help Derek while at the same time, figure out where they stand with each other.

Every story you write has humor and includes a mischievous cat. Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

I think I used a little bit of every cat I’ve ever had (and that’s a lot!) for this one J. There are over thirty cats in Roxy’s stray cat shelter, so that’s lots more purrs and meows to go around.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

I already knew a lot about cats and their care, but I did do some research on actual rescue sites. Two of the cats we’ve had have been from rescues, also, so I had those experiences. Also, since I’ve live-trapped and had neutered and released, over a dozen cats myself, that part of the story was partly my experience, too.

I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you ever put real experiences in your books?

Roxy, the heroine is goofy and clumsy. That’s me, all the way. And Max, the hero, is my husband Garry. A large man who commands respect just by being who he is. But also, he’s loving and gentle, too. I’ve never had children, so Roxy’s inexperience with kids was a reflection of me, too.

Thanks, Ruth, for this fun interview. For those who enjoy a humorous book, check out Better Than Catnip.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Interview with Sweet Romance Author Traci Hunter Abramson

Originally from Arizona, Traci Hunter Abramson has spent most of her adult life living in Virginia. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. Since leaving the CIA, Traci has written several novels, including the Undercurrents trilogy, Royal Target, Obsession, and the Saint Squad series. When she’s not writing, Traci enjoys spending time with her husband and four children. She also enjoys coaching the local high school swim team.

Hello, Traci! Please tell us about your novel.

Royal Secrets is a fun romantic suspense about a woman struggling to raise her two young sons after losing her husband. When she comes to work for the royal family of Meridia, she forms an unlikely friendship with Prince Stefano. As time passes, and their friendship blossoms into romance, outside forces threaten the royal family and the very fabric of life in this storybook country.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Royal Secrets was a unique project for me because it was written as in response to fan mail. I wrote Royal Target several years ago assuming that it would be a stand alone novel, but shortly after it came out, I started receiving fan mail from readers asking if I was going to write a sequel.

I tried a few times to start a sequel, but other stories kept dominating my thoughts and demanded to get written first. Then, finally, I started writing what was supposed to be a sequel. To my surprise, two secondary characters, Prince Stefano of Meridia and Alora DeSanto, completely hijacked this novel. Although I fought with them for several chapters, I finally gave up and let them find their story.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Most of my research for this novel occurred by simply pulling Royal Target off of my bookshelf. Both novels occurred primarily in the same locations, so I was able to borrow from some of the research I had previously done on those types of details. As for the intelligence and government side of the story, I was able to rely on my previous background working for the CIA.

That’s amazing. What does your family think about your writing?

Overall, my family has been very supportive and tolerant of my writing. I know it can be difficult at times, especially when I’m in the middle of the project, but usually they’re pretty good about letting me know when my balance needs to shift a bit between my writing time and our family time.

Thanks for the fun interview. I’ve never interviewed a former CIA agent before. Hahaha. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

Between my junior and senior years in high school, I lived in Venezuela as a foreign exchange student. I had always wanted to become more fluent in Spanish and thought this would be a great experience. I lived in Caracas during the time of year when young people were required to register for the draft, and my friends and I were pulled over somewhat frequently. Twice I was caught without my passport. Both times the authorities discussed deporting me…once to Colombia and the other time to Brazil. Apparently my accent was good enough that they thought I was a native speaker even though my vocabulary was lacking. After some heated conversations in which I countered their questions in Spanish with some rather heated English (and after my friend who often held my passport arrived) they decided I wasn’t worth the paperwork and I was allowed to stay.

Wow! That’s scary. It sounds like you have had some interesting experiences. Almost deported in a foreign country, going on dangerous assignments for the CIA, and now you’re an author! You’ve had a very interesting life, Traci!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Interview with Author Charissa Stastny

Charissa Stastny lives in Meridian, Idaho with her husband, four kids, and her super mellow dog named Ginger. She and her family love camping, hiking, and biking. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from BYU, but is currently a proofreader and a grant writer. Eyes of Light is her first published novel. Her second book, Secret Keepers, is due out this fall. 

Hello, Charissa. Please tell us about your novel.

Eyes of Light takes opposites to a whole new level. From Hispanic drug capos to Mormon missionaries in Guatemala, this story shows the spectrum of the human soul. The protagonist, Suvi Goldstein, is smart and resourceful, yet unaware of her true potential. She tries to escape her past, but life’s whirlwinds suck her back into danger and intrigue as she falls for a man with secrets as deadly as her own.

When disaster strikes, she flees to leave her guilt behind, but finds herself in even greater peril. Torn between violent men in one world and a kind, forgiving man in another, Suvi must find her way toward salvation. But will she ever be free of the darkness that binds her? Can she ever forgive herself for what that she can love again?

This sounds like an interesting Christian fiction. Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

The inspiration for my Suvi character came in the form of a traveling artist that knocked at my door, selling canvases. I let her in, was charmed, and bought one of her paintings—The Street of Roses in Tiberias. Suvi was a captivating, gregarious personality. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, so used her to fuel my story for my creative writing class. Eyes of Light was born.

My little brother was my inspiration for my James character. He served a mission in Guatemala. I used his letters he wrote home to cast Elder Hinton. I tease my brother that James Hinton is him...only cool.

Hahaha. What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

I used my brother’s mission letters to figure out details about Guatemala. I also did research on the FBI’s site about crime in Guatemala, which I thought my brother might be exaggerating. He wasn’t. Crime is terrible there.

I understand completely. I had to do research for my novel, Mayan Intrigue, since it was set in southern Mexico, and found that crime and artifact theft are running rampant there and in Guatemala. My eyes were really opened. So what does your husband think about your writing?

My husband thinks I don’t do enough zombie scenes for his taste. If I leave my computer for a second, I risk severe story tampering. I’ve come in to find my heroine being eaten by a zombie, or my masculine hunk telling the love of his life that he wants to eat her brains...things like that.

Hahaha. Your husband is so funny. How about your family?

Mostly, my family is supportive...but brutally honest. My daughter laughed hysterically when she read the first draft of Eyes of Light. She highlighted 3 different sections and wrote: “Cheesy! Please Mom, don’t ever publish this. It will embarrass me for you!” My husband also gave me useful advice: “Before you ever publish any of your stories, you might want to do a search for the word zombie.” Their tips saved me.  

That is so hilarious. Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, but am “gambling-challenged.” I haven’t ever pulled a handle of a slot machine, or thrown dice across a craps table, and I can’t shuffle cards to save my life. In college, I shuffled UNO cards by scattering them all over the ground and messing them up, then picking them up again. It drove my roommates crazy.

Hahaha. Now I know the real you! Just your answers alone make me wonder if you’re going to have a sense of humor in your book. Thanks for a wonderful interview.