Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Hope Collier Interview
3/31/2012 9:33:41 PM
Hope Collier discusses her debut novel and the writing life!
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting today’s featured author on Twitter when Hope Collier was in the process of writing her debut YA novel The Willows: Haven. That was about two years ago, and since then, Hope has been basking in the glow of a growing number of rave reviews! I’d like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Hope. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
HC: As a stay-at-home mom of two girls, I don't have a ton of spare time. Between ballet classes and art projects, I have to squeeze stuff in. I love reading of course, especially now with the convenience of eReader apps for smart phones. I enjoy crafty stuff like making vintage jewelry or repurposing things to make them into something else useful. I love traveling and anything outdoorsy. My favorite time is spent with family and friends.
Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
HC: Making up stories is something I've always done. I'm from Cumberland Kentucky, and I spent most of my childhood there. Growing up in the mountains is a breeding ground for imagination. Everything from hearing the stories my uncle told around the campfire to making up my own with cousins … any tiny thing had the potential to grow into an adventure. My family moved to "the big city" right after I turned six. My 1st grade teacher told us to put pen to paper, and write our stories down. After that, I just never quit. It wasn't until Haven was nearly complete that I even considered sharing it with anyone, let alone the world. Publishing was more of a surprise!
What was the inspiration behind The Willows: Haven and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Ashton Blake?
HC: Haven came about after I had a dream centered around an inherently good being who wanted to help people, thus the birth of Gabe. Early on, he was an angel, but I didn't like that notion. Instead, I researched and found a mythological angle that hadn't been covered. Once I figured out "what" he was, the story began to unfold. Ashton is a really fun character for me. She starts out this seemingly entitled rich girl, but as the book progresses, you really get a feel for who she really is beneath it all. She may struggle with the right choices sometimes, but at the heart of it all, she's willing to fight for the things she loves.
Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the readers when they crack open The Willows: Haven?
HC: Haven is centered around mystery and intrigue, sprinkled with a healthy dose of romance, betrayal, secrets, and surprises. I appreciate not knowing everything that's going to happen in a story, so that's an important part of my writing.
The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. What made you decide to go indie and self-publish?
HC: My decision to go indie was based on many factors. The road is different for each author, and I suggest they do their homework. The two most important aspects for me were:
1) Traditional publishing takes YEARS at best. Even if a writer lucks out and lands an agent in their first few months of searching, there's still editing with your agent, vying for a publishing company, and editing with your publisher, before you finally see a product. I didn't want to spend my time and efforts slogging through all the red tape.
2) I wanted the freedom to write the story that was in me, not the story someone else believed would sell. I'm not one for squeezing into a mold. I like calling the shots in that way.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
HC: I think the most important thing I’ve learned is always have fun! Writing is tough enough when you actually enjoy it. The day you don’t is the day you won’t want to write anymore. I can't imagine my life not doing something that brings me so much joy.
Your book cover is beautiful! Do you mind telling us whom you used to create your book cover?
HC: Thanks so much! I have to admit, I'm a stickler for covers. Thankfully, I lucked out and landed the most amazing cover designer ever. His name is Neil Noah. He also designed the cover for Megan Curd's novels Forbidden and Traitor as well as Elizabeth Isaac's Kailmeyra Chronicles. He is every kind of genius.
Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
HC: I'm definitely more of a pantser. I start out with a general idea of where I want the story to go, but I can't confine myself to an outline. I get stuck on one idea when I try which sometimes hinders me from finding a better route. Plus, I like the element of surprise, even if it's from my own characters.
Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
HC: Music! I can't write without it. Music drives my muse. It fuels my imagination and sets the stage for what's going to happen. There are times when a song just fits a character or the situation so perfectly, and I'll play it over and over as I write. Even with Haven long since written, I can hear a certain song, and I'm immediately swept back in time, experiencing what I felt when I wrote that scene.
At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
HC: I can't say as I've ever experienced writer's block per se. There are times I don't know how to get around something or what will happen next. When that happens, I'll skip around to a different scene or lay it aside and work on another project. The key for me is not letting my mind go idle. Writing fuels my creativity. It eventually comes to me if I don't work on it too hard. Another great thing for me is bouncing ideas off of writer friends. Sometimes just talking it out, the answer comes to you!
Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
HC: Elizabeth Isaacs. I love her ability to include so much information and detail without the reader ever noticing they're getting it. And her world/character building is just amazing! There's so much more to her stories than the obvious. They're steeped in meaning and symbolism.
What are you reading now and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
HC: I actually just finished Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich. She's another favorite author of mine. The entire Plum series is hysterical. Janet has a way of creating characters so over-the-top yet completely relatable. I love any story with great characters.
What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from YA into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to The Willows: Haven in the near future?
HC: Well, I'd like to have The Willows series wrapped up and successful as well as several other titles under my belt. The way it's going now, I should have a few ready in the coming year. One project in particular is actually an adult novel I'm working on with another author. I can't say much about that just yet though. As for the sequel to Haven, I hope to have it out later this year!
Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss your novel and to share in your writing experiences, Hope! I’ll catch you on Twitter, my friend! For more information about Hope and her novel, check out:
Follow Hope on Twitter: .HopeCollier
Where to buy the book: Amazon.com, at Hope's blog and website, or directly from the publisher at www.soulfirepress.com
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