Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?
JH. I tend to turn victims into heroes in my stories. My abusive upbringing influenced this. Having friendships implode and watching people die has given me the perspective to talk about loss. Being lucky enough to fall deeply in love more than once in my life has taught me how to talk about love and heartbreak. Having raised two children has refreshed my memories of childhood. Having both of them turn out gay has opened my eyes to prejudice.
Q. What’s your downtime look like?
JH. I’m something of an accomplishment junkie. I don’t really have downtime. I travel on my vacations. Evenings out mean movies or theater. When I’m not writing or running my household, my day job is consulting on compliance for banks. Troubleshooting and problem solving for The Man turns at night into troubleshooting and problem-solving in my stories. I love what I do. I don’t need time away from it.
Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?
JH. When I was working on the third and final installment of the supernatural thriller Goddess Rising trilogy, I was so worried I would fail to wrap up all the threads I had started in the series, and I would fail to deliver a truly satisfying ending to it all, I worked myself into a panic. I had to take a break. I had to get out of my head. So I built a writing exercise for myself. I was going to try a seat-of-the-pants, no outline story, and it would be in a completely different genre, fantasy romance. I was also going to force myself not to outline by publishing it online a chapter at a time, so I could not go back and change anything. The story I wrote was the first draft of Mermaid Steel. I got to the end, and to my surprise, the story worked! My readers loved it. So I went back and added in all the things I had thought of during the writing, and it went from 60,000 to 72,000 words. I cleaned it up and sold it to my publisher. I then went back and looked at what I had to do to finish Goddess Rising. With fresh eyes, my path was clear. Critics have said the book completes the series better than they expected. One said it ends not with a bang but a boom. I also learned a lot about how to tell a romance. The next book I am working on, The Dove and the Crow, has a big romantic thread.
Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)
JH. Trust that you will never run out of ideas and will never paint yourself into a corner where you cannot find a solution (even if it is a start-over). A blank page is the most formidable adversary. Just write. Fixing it later is so much easier. Write what you know, but only research as far as you need to tell your story. Write about what you want to write about. Chasing a market trend will a) date your work into obsolescence and b) force you to write about something without your heart, which will show. Writing what you care about will show, and your readers will see this and love your work for it.
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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK