Pam, what sparked the idea for Claiming Mariah?
Several years ago, I read a novel where a bank robber tosses a sack of stolen money in the back seat of a hand-to-mouth college student’s car. She kept the money and eventually started a very successful business. She justified her actions because she anonymously created a charity to help destitute young women get back on their feet. But, as the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right, and that wasn’t quite right from a Christian’s perspective, was it? I based Claiming Mariah on the following question: “What would a Christian do if they found out their whole livelihood had been based on a lie?” Mariah does the right thing by writing to Slade’s father asking for forgiveness, but the consequences of her actions end up being way more than she bargained for.
Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?
Until very recently, I worked a day job as a purchasing manager for an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) company. But after holding down a full-time job, a part-time job as conference treasurer for ACFW, writing, and being a wife and mother, (I figure all of that together constitutes 3.5 jobs. Wouldn’t you agree?) I now only have 2.5 jobs. And, the scary part is I’m just as busy as I when I worked outside the home. The biggest challenge for me is to not have tunnel vision so bad on one task that other equally important tasks don’t get done on time.
When starting a new project, do you tend to begin with a time period or event and create the characters to live it, or do you start with characters and then find their story?
I generally start with an event, or a story question. For Claiming Mariah, it was the question mentioned above, “What would a Christian do if they discovered their whole livelihood was based on a lie?”
Stealing Jake started out as a novella proposal for a Cowboy Christmas anthology for Tyndale House. Interesting that it didn’t make the cut as a novella, but ended up as my debut novel with them, huh?
What is the biggest misconception beginning writers have about being published?
I can’t speak for others, but before I started writing (many years ago), I thought writers created stories as the plot, character, and events unfolded in their imagination. That’s how real life happens, isn’t it? We don’t have a clue what’s going to happen in the next second, the next minute, let alone hours, weeks, or years.
Nope, doesn’t happen that way. A well-crafted story doesn’t just happen. The storyteller builds it, from the ground up. Otherwise, it will crumble like a sand castle in a hurricane.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
First: Believe in yourself. I tamped down the dream until I was almost thirty years old because the author bios and the glamour shots on the back of the books in the bookstore intimidated me. Who was I to think I could compete with such poise, such sophistication, education, and competence? Surely those authors came from wealth and power. But sometimes that glamour shot might be an illusion, the bio polished a little too brightly. You, dear writer friend, are just as worthy as the next person.
Second: If you’re writing Christian fiction, join ACFW. Develop friendships with other writers, not just connections, but true-blue, ask-me-anything, I’ve-got-your-back friends. It took me years to find those friends because I’m a fairly private person. I don’t open up to others very well, but those friends are the very reason I can be this candid with you today. Find them. Embrace them.
Pam Hillman, it has been a pleasure having you as our guest at Novel PASTimes! We look forward to reading more of your engaging western romances.
Readers, don't forget to leave a comment and answer these questions from the author to be entered in a drawing to win a digital copy of Claiming Mariah:
What intrigues you the most about historicals? The geographical location? The time period? The history? The characters? The plot? The cover? Give examples of books you still remember years and years later.
In celebration of her release of Claiming Mariah, Pam Hillman is on a Blog Tour offering more free gifts. You can visit her Facebook event page for more details. Click here.