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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Author Interview with Lynda Hilburn

Tell us about the first book in your Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist series, THE VAMPIRE SHRINK.

Here’s a brief blurb:

Kismet Knight is a young psychologist with a growing clinical practice, and she's always looking for something to give her the edge in her chosen career. When her new client turns out to be a Goth teenager who desperately wants to become a vampire, Kismet is inspired to become the vampire shrink, offering her services to people who believe they are undead. Kismet herself, as a scientist, knows it's hokum, but she's looking at it in a purely psychoanalytic light, already imagining the papers she's going to write on this strange subculture. That's until she meets the leader of a vampire coven, a sexy, mysterious man who claims to be a powerful 800-year-old vampire, and she is pulled into a whirlwind of inexplicable events that start her questioning everything she once believed about the paranormal.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing nonfiction for 30 years: newspaper and magazine articles, newspaper columns, research materials, training materials, journals, etc. Of course, some of my journal entries fell into the category of wishful thinking, which provided great preparation for what was to come. It wasn’t until 2002 that I seriously began exploring fiction.

How did you pick the genre you write in?

My genre is generally paranormal, which includes urban fantasy, paranormal mystery, paranormal romance, erotic paranormal, dark paranormal, psychological paranormal, paranormal thriller, paranormal humor/satire, even paranormal with horror elements! My love of all things dark and spooky made it impossible for me to write anything else. And, no matter how hard I try, I can’t help but add extra elements. I’m always fascinated by the underlying layers of things (can’t take the psychotherapist out of the writer).

Do you plot or do you write by the seat of your pants?

Sometimes I really wish I could plot. Plotting seems so organized. So efficient. Plotters seem to get so much more done. But, I’m a pantser. I never know what’s coming in the story until I see it on the screen in front of me. I buy books about plotting and they gather dust. I am toying with the notion of being a “pantser with plotting tendencies.” We’ll see how that goes! As long as I give myself room to completely change everything anytime I wish, I think that should work.

What drew you to the subject of The Vampire Shrink?

The book is about a Denver psychologist who gets pulled into a vampire underworld, and winds up working with an unusual clientele. I’ve always been a vampire fan. There’s just something about the various dark archetypes for these compelling and frightening creatures. The actual idea for the book came from a client session. I’d listened to a young woman talk about a non-human group she wanted to become part of and I began to notice that her words reminded me of some of the popular vampire books I’d read. She described this group (not vampires, but I do have other clients who live the Goth/vampire-wannabe lifestyle, including drinking blood) as if they were bloodsuckers. After the session, as I sat writing up case notes, I daydreamed about what might happen if I walked out to my waiting room and found a gorgeous vampire sitting there. I went home that night and started writing. It was the most fun I’ve ever had writing.
Tell us about your psychologist heroine Kismet Knight. Since you both share the same profession, do you think of her as your alter ego?
I’m nodding. Kismet is definitely an idealized version of me: she’s thinner, younger, prettier and has a much more exciting love life than I do! I’m probably in the minority here, but I believe all characters reflect some aspect of the author’s psyche. Either our characters represent aspects we like in ourselves, or perhaps elements we’re unconscious of. Or they’re parts of ourselves we’re afraid we are, or wish we were, or general archetypes available to (and parts of) everyone. I always smile when an author tells me her characters are separate from her.

What do you know now that you are published that you wish you’d known sooner?

The biggest lessons I’ve learned have been about the business side of being an author. I had been used to working for myself for most of my adult life. That meant I was comfortable charting my own course and calling the shots. Well, traditional publishing has its own rules and most authors (all?) have little chance of calling any shots. Especially in the beginning. I made lots of mistakes, mostly because I just didn’t know any better. I kept assuming the people I worked with had my best interests at heart and they would give me good advice. It took a while before I understood the challenging nature of the publishing world. I had heard all the talk from author friends about the need to grow a tough skin and making sure I had lots of outside support. But until I held my nose and jumped into the deep end of the pool, I had no idea what they meant. So, I experienced a steep and frustrating learning curve. I know much more about all aspects now than I did then. It’s true. A writer has to cultivate both her creative side and her business instincts. Both are equally important.
How long did it take you to write each of your two books, starting from when the idea came into your thoughts?
From the moment I sat down to write, it took 14 months to complete The Vampire Shrink. It probably wouldn’t have taken so long if I hadn’t thrown my chapters away every time a particular crit partner said I was “doing it wrong.” Turns out these dear friends (all romance writers) were trying to help me learn to write romance correctly, and that wasn’t my focus. Once I figured out I was crossing genres, things moved much faster. I trusted my intuition more. I had an actual deadline for the second book, formerly called Dark Harvest, so that one took me about a year, and it was much more difficult to write! My new publisher (Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus Books) asked me to write a new book #2 (the former book #2 will now be a later book). I have just a few months to come up with an entire book. Yikes. I’ve got my fingers crossed I’m up to the challenge!

Describe your workspace.

I live in a small townhouse (smaller than my heroine’s) and my office is in the loft area. My computer sits on a huge table, surrounded by files, books, magazines, office equipment and various papers. There are vampire posters on the walls around me. I keep the TV on in the background for noise. I can’t play music while I write because I’m a singer and music distracts me.

Best and worst part of being a writer?

Best part is typing the words, “the end.” LOL. Worst is forcing myself to sit in the chair long enough to get the words out.

Advice for other writers?

It really is true that you should never give up. Read stories about other writers and how many dark times they had to overcome before achieving whatever they consider success. Just when you think it’s all over, it begins again. Be persistent, tenacious and stubborn. Keep writing. Keep laughing. Of course, now with all the indie publishing, it’s a brave new world!

What are you writing now?

I’m working on a new second book (tentatively called Blood Therapy) in my Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist series (and I have ideas for the book after that, which might push the previous book #2 back to being book #4). I also have lots of other ideas I’d like to write about. It would be great to win the lottery and be able to write full time!

How can people buy your books?

The UK version of The Vampire Shrink will be out in hardcover and trade paperback – and hopefully ebook – September, 2011. The books can be pre-ordered at The North American version should arrive early 2012. My books should be available everywhere.

How can readers learn more about you and your books?

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