Thursday, February 6, 2014

Special Guest Elizabeth Heiter

Bum-bum-bum! Happy happy Thursday everyone! I hope y'all had a great day! I am super pumped to share with you my interview with Elizabeth Heiter, the author of Hunted! (See my review here.) Well, I'm just going to go a head and jump right into it!

What made you decide you wanted to start writing? Tell us a little bit about how you got your start!
I’ve always loved writing – and I always knew I wanted to be a novelist!  I can remember starting novels longhand in notebooks back in middle school.  I finished my first co-written manuscript in high school, and a few years after I graduated from college, I began submitting to literary agents!

What is your favorite thing about being an author and writing?
There’s a great thrill to coming up with that first tiny seed of an idea that you know can bloom into a full novel.  One of my favorite things is the brainstorming process, where that little nugget of an idea begins fleshing out into a real story.  One of my other favorite parts about writing is being so engrossed in writing a scene that my fingers can barely keep up with my brain.  That time when the story is flowing just right and you don’t want to stop writing, no matter how late it gets.  As an author, I have to admit there’s also something pretty amazing about seeing my novel in bookstores and hearing reader reactions.  The other day, I got a letter from a sixteen-year-old who said she hated to read, but loved HUNTED.  Moments like that make all the hard work truly worthwhile!

How did you come up with this story?
Many years ago, I became fascinated with the idea of criminal profiling – the notion that someone could show up at a crime scene where there were no solid leads, no strong suspects and no forensic evidence, and give law enforcement details about who had committed the crime anyway.  That was the first nugget for me – the first tiny kernel that would ultimately become HUNTED.  From there, I started fleshing out my character – asking myself what kind of person would choose this kind of work.  I decided that Evelyn needed something that personally motivated her from her past, such as the disappearance of her best friend when she was twelve.  Once I knew some basics about my character, I started developing my villain, the Bakersville Burier, and the plot.

What is your favorite character, moment, line, ect. from Hunted?
This is a hard one!  I love the characters for different reasons – I appreciate my heroine, FBI profiler Evelyn Baine, for her determination; her friend and possible love interest FBI Hostage Rescue Team Agent Kyle “Mac” McKenzie for his persistence and his charm; and their friend Gabe Fontaine for his humor.  One of my favorite moments in the book is when Evelyn opens up to Kyle a  little bit about her past and the case that brought her to the Bureau – the disappearance of her best friend Cassie seventeen years earlier.  (That case will return in the sequel to HUNTED, out next year.)

What character in Hunted do you relate to the most? (Explain how or why.)
I relate to them all (well, most of them anyway – not the serial killer so much!) for different reasons.  With my heroine, Evelyn, I love her tenacity and I relate to her determination to go after what she wants, no matter the hurdles.   I also like that she’s not perfect – she’s prickly and socially awkward and she’s definitely got room to grow, both in the course of HUNTED as she learns to let others in, and as the series progresses.

Did you end up cutting out whole characters or scenes during the writing process? Was it hard?
I did!  It was difficult.  There were some characters and scenes that I really loved, and I ended up cutting them.  But ultimately the end, the book was stronger without them, so they had to go!  When I’m revising, I try to take an unforgiving look at each scene and ask myself if it advances the plot and the character development in some way.  If not, no matter how much I like it, it’s got to go!

What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing and/or publishing Hunted? How did you handle or overcome it?
I think one of the biggest challenges was persistence.  I wrote many manuscripts and spent years submitting those manuscripts before selling, and sometimes that was discouraging.  But at the end of the day, I wanted this too much to give up on it!  And then HUNTED sold along with four other novels, so it was definitely worth the wait!

Are there any books or authors who have influenced your writing style or inspired you?
There are so many!  I’ve always loved to read, and I used to devour huge stacks of novels every week (I have less time for that now, being under deadlines, but I still read a lot).   I’m inspired every time I read a book that I don’t want to put down.  Some of my favorite authors include Lisa Gardner, Tom Clancy, Allison Brennan, Suzanne Brockmann, and Laura Griffin.

Any last words or advice for aspiring authors?
I think some of the best advice I can offer is the advice I got from Suzanne Brockmann many years ago.  At a book signing, she told me that the difference between an unpublished writer and a published author is perseverance.  So, “never give up” is a good motto for a writer!  Another thing I’d recommend is to find a strong writing organization to join – it makes a difference to have the access to craft and business information they can provide, but also being in a community of other writers is inspiring!

Thank you so much for your time! It has been great having you and learning more about you, your writing and Hunted!
Thank you so much for having me here, Briana!

J Elizabeth Heiter

Wasn't that just charming and full of great advice? Be sure to add her book Hunted on Goodreads and get it through Liberty Bay by clicking this: Hunted, and of course be on the look out for more from Elizabeth! I can't wait to read book 2!