I’m happy to introduce you to my next guest author interview with S.L. Hollister. I think you’re going to like what she writes and has to say about her writing process. First, let me share a bit about her background and then we’ll get into the meat of the interview.
About S.L. Hollister:
I wrote my first romance at the age of ten and dreamed of becoming a romance writer. My other childhood dream was to have my own Brady Bunch, I’m an only child. We’re not exactly the Brady Bunch, but I am the mother/stepmother to six sons. After only two years of marriage, my husband and I, gained custody of his three sons and discovered I was expecting number six. We went from two children in the home to six in a matter of a few months. (And people wonder why I’m so crazy.)
With my large family, I’m never at a loss for plot ideas, interesting characters or cheerleaders.
As a shy, insecure child, I struggled to find my voice. In writing fiction, I have found the courage to speak the truth. My characters are often flawed but it’s through their weaknesses they find their strength.
You can connect with her at any of the follow places:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B079FGXGBH
Betty: How many books have you written and published?
S.L.: I have two books out at the moment. They are part of a series, The Leeward Files, Chrome Pink and White Gold. I’m planning to launch the third book, Titanium Blue in May.
Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?
S.L.: Contemporary romantic suspense with strong female characters. My first love is historical romance but after losing my home and all of my books in a house fire, I started writing contemporary romance. My mind was in a different place and I’d developed a love of suspense and thrillers. Chrome Pink, the first in my series evolved from a couple of online workshops, events happening in my neighborhood and tragedies I’d heard and read about in the news.
Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?
S.L.: White Gold, the sequel to Chrome Pink, has a beauty pageant fundraiser, a small town and a sex trafficking ring. Using pictures of my home town on some of the promos shows the inspiration for the setting, the fictional town of Leeward, North Carolina. For my Mother’s Day promo, I’ll be giving away a tiara. White Gold has only been out a few months, with Titanium Blue due out in May.
The sequel to Chrome Pink, White Gold tells Dana’s story as she struggles to keep from losing her dating club, Cupid’s Zone.
SBI Agent Jake Monroe’s career is hanging over a ledge, he doesn’t have time for romance. After discovering Dana’s dating program has been hacked and her clients threatened, he is determined to protect her.
As a cold case heats up, so does their passions. Dana and Jake must untangle the truth before they are ensnared in a web of lies. One wrong choice could cost them their lives.
The Leeward Files series is a small-town romantic suspense with edge of your seat excitement and drama.
Chrome Pink: https://books2read.com/u/4jaeBk
White Gold: https://books2read.com/u/brYpjA
Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?
S.L.: I work full-time at an alcohol beverage store. While on break and lunch I write and revise in the backroom. I also have an office at home. In truth, as long as I don’t get nosy, I can write in the middle of a party. With six boys, writing was my escape and for a few minutes I could ignore the shouting and screaming as long as no one was bleeding and write.
Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?
S.L.: Not really, I do like to have something handy to drink, coffee or water usually. If I’m trying to get into my characters’ head, I might drink something they would like. The same with music, if I’m channeling my characters, I might listen to some music that fits their personality. I do have my “sexy man” candle my husband gave me for Christmas. If I’m writing a very romantic scene, I might burn the candle or just have it open so I can smell of it. (It’s Seaside Mist by Bath and Body Works.)
Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?
S.L.: I’ve been a member of RWA, and my local group, Heart of Carolina for several years. I’ve also been a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Read and the Pamlico Writers’ Group (now chairperson).
The leader of the Writers’ Read, Marni Graff, is my mentor. After my agent dropped me, she insisted the book was ready and I should Indie Publish. It was the scariest and most exciting thing I’ve ever done.
I am blessed to have several writer friends and reader friends, who have pushed and encouraged me to take the plunge into Indie Publishing. Three have been the most instrumental: my husband for his encouragement and push to be brave and fulfill my dream, my best friend for taking me to my first and second, Romantic Times Writers and Readers Conventions, and my mentor, award winning cozy mystery writer, Marni Graff.
Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?
S.L.: I’m told I write good dialogue, but I think being able to see the story unfold like in a movie has helped me make my stories more realistic. Determination and dedication, I wanted to be a published author and even though I may not be as talented as someone else, I work hard. Having a good work ethic is key to any success.
Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?
S.L.: I think for me it’s characters. I get a vague idea for a character and then a vague idea for a story. Then I ask a lot of questions. Why does my character have tattoos and piercings and a bad attitude (Chrome Pink)? What happened to her? What does she need to do to regain her power?
Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?
S.L.: I have some structured time but I’m the mother of six, grandmother of 19, I work full-time and I’m the chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group. At the moment, I’m neck-deep in conference planning. Our conference is April 5th and 6th.
Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?
S.L.: Time is my biggest obstacle, there’s never enough of it. I’ve got too many projects. I recently joined eight other women from around the globe to put out a spring anthology, Love in Bloom. All the proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I have promos for it on top of my other obligations. It seems everything comes off at the same time.
Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?
S.L.: I have participated one time, I loved it and I finished a novel. I haven’t been able to do it again because of the timing. November is the worst month for me to write fifty thousand words. With my job and my large family, I’m already busy. Plus, November is when we kick off our conference planning. We try to have everything done before the holidays so we can start promoting after the first of the year. It’s a lot of work.
Betty: What are you reading right now?
S.L.: I’m reading Love in Bloom, the international anthology I’m a part of and I’m listening to Deanna Raybourn’s A Dangerous Collaboration.
Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?
S.L.: Historical romance or historical suspense are my favorites.
Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?
S.L.: I love Sabrina Jeffries, Amanda Quick, Deanna Raybourn and Will Thomas, just to name a few.
Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?
S.L.: I read something else. I don’t want to be influenced by something similar to what I’m writing. But I also found as a novice writer learning from those writers I adored, helped me discover my own voice.
Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?
S.L.: That it is serious, hard work with little pay. It takes time to craft a well-written book. Some can write faster but it still work.
Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?
S.L.: Make time to write, take classes and learn the craft and business of writing, and above all else, READ!
Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?
S.L.: I have at least one more book in the series I’m writing. He is the assistant fire chief for the local volunteer fire department.
Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?
S.L.: I have a historical I’ve been toying with for several years I want to write. I’ve also written several short stories in which I experiment with language and style. I write really bad poetry but I have found that poetry can help you develop language and rhythm. I believe writing is like life, you have to do what scares you in order to grow.
Betty: Thanks so much for sharing about your books and your process, S.L.!
I hope you all enjoyed meeting S.L. Hollister and will join me next Friday for another guest author interview.
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