Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her
vocation as a novelist
after many years of
she could put her hands
on, including the backs of
cereal boxes and ketchup bottles.
She is the winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction for Whispers from Yesterday, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance for Patterns of Love and The Shepherd's Voice, two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Robin is the author of over 50 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.
Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful
Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry and watching romantic
movies. She is passionate about the theater and, several nights every
summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho
Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars.
She makes her home outside of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the
Tell us a bit about your newest release. What led you to
choose to write this story?
My latest release, Wagered Heart (Zondervan, June 2008), is an historical romance and came from the classic “what if” question. One day as I was pondering my next story, I wondered, “What would happen if the heroine made a bet that she could get the hero to do something? And then what would happen if the hero found out about her wager and made a bet of his
own?” Out of those questions came the story.
Bethany’s father, a man from a prominent Philadelphia family, is a preacher who has felt God’s call to serve the Lord in the West. So, along with his wife, he takes his daughter out of her world of privilege and they make their way to Montana and settle in the small town of Sweetwater to build their church. Bethany has complained throughout their long journey, but she has secretly fallen in love with the land and the new freedom she enjoys.
When she first meets Hawk, a local rancher, he says he isn’t interested in attending church, so she makes a bet with her friend that she can get him to come to church within 30 days. But her plans to use her feminine wiles to entice Hawk into one of her father’s services backfires when he learns why she has been flirting with him and, in anger, makes a wager of his own, planning to get even.
Problems and romance ensue.
What would you like readers to gain from reading your book?
I believe most readers of romantic fiction want to vicariously experience the roller coaster ride of falling in love. Those of us who have “been there, done that” know it is such a sweetly torturous time that we would expire if we had to feel that way every day of our lives. But there is joy in experiencing it through the eyes of characters in a book.
My first job as a writer is to entertain and engage my readers, and that’s what I hope I’ve done in Wagered Heart.
Some of my books, particularly my contemporary women’s fiction, have deep spiritual themes and have addressed difficult topics (alcoholism, infidelity, family secrets, marriages in crisis). The stories have often sprung from lessons God has taught me or experiences he has brought me through. While I seek to honor God with every story I write, my historical romances tend to have more lighthearted themes. I want to make my readers laugh and cry and finish the book with a satisfied smile on their faces and a wish that the book hadn’t ended because they would like to spend a little more time with those characters.
Why historical fiction?
History and English were my favorite and best topics in school. In my teens and twenties, I read tons of the historical sagas that were popular at the time, and I added historical romances to the mix as their popularity grew too. I think it was just natural for me to write an historical when I decided to pen my first book back in 1981. My first 27 books were all historicals. It wasn’t until I left the general ABA market and answered God's call to write for the CBA/Christian market that I branched into contemporary stories.
I love the research that goes into writing historical fiction. In all honesty, it is sometimes hard to stop researching and start writing because I am always learning something new. For instance, a tidbit I learned recently. Men in the 1800s had an average of three wives because so many women died after having babies (lack of sanitation being the cause of those deaths). I look back at my great-grandmother who gave birth to 13 children over the course of 25 years and think how very amazing it was that she lived to the "ripe old age" of 68. But her husband lived to be 92!
What is your most memorable or humorous moment as a published author?
I've had many memorable moments, but one of the most memorable was winning the RITA Award for The Shepherd's Voice for Best Inspirational Romance. I suffered from terrible writer's block throughout the writing of that book. Every word felt like it was ripped out of me, not any of them coming easily. When I turned the manuscript in, I felt no connection to my hero or heroine and feared it was the worst thing I'd ever written. And I never felt any better about it as it went through the editing process. Getting praise from my editor and later from readers helped a little but not much. When it was announced as a finalist book in the RITAs, I never believed it had even a remote chance to win. I thought it was a total fluke that it was a finalist. So when my name was announced as the winner, I was so shocked I didn't even head toward the stage at first.
That was the moment I learned that my emotions have little to do with the quality of the book I am working on.
With more than one book under your belt, what lesson have you learned that you wished you’d known early on?
As I answer this interview, I am about to begin writing my 61st release. I've learned a lot through the years, but first and foremost, I wished I'd known what to expect from a publisher. I wasn't edited at all at the beginning of my career. I was with a small publishing house, and they put out my books exactly as I sent them in─clichés, too many adverbs, and all. Plus after publication, I discovered many typos that weren't in my manuscript but that happened during typesetting. (This was in the days before computers and submitting in Word documents.) If I'd at least seen page proofs, maybe some of those added errors could have been eliminated.
I was awaiting the release of my fifth book when I attended my first RWA conference and heard other writers talking about revision letters, line edits, copy edits, etc. I turned to my friend and said, "I think I'm being cheated." Truer words were never spoken. When I started writing for other publishing houses and received the proper editing I both needed and deserved, I learned so much. Above all, I learned to value a good editor.
How do you go about layering your stories with all the senses? Do you put them in as you go or when you rewrite?
Come back tomorrow for the answer to this question
and more. Please leave a comment for a chance to win
Robin's latest historical romance, Wagered Heart!