Good Thursday morning, readers! Today I have a real TREAT. ;)
For Halloween 2011, I have a guest author. This is the first time I have had a paranormal romance writer here, and I am thrilled to be able to host her!
Please help me welcolme paranormal writer, Lynda Hilburn!
Hi Lynda! Thank you so much for being with us today!
Hi, Lauren! Thanks for having me.
Lynda, let’s start with your background. On your website you say, “After a childhood filled with invisible friends, sightings of dead relatives and a fascination with the occult, turning to the paranormal was a no-brainer.” My partner is absolutely obsessed with Ghost Hunters and I have seen one spirit myself. But I would LOVE to hear about your sightings and visits. Would you mind sharing some stories or insights with us?
I’ve sensed energies since childhood. At first, I had no idea everyone didn’t see the “friends” I saw. Sometimes I just knew someone/something was with me without seeing them with my physical eyes. When I was a teenager I had a blast doing séances and seeking out mysterious/mystical experiences on purpose. I really think we humans start out quite open to the unusual and we become less willing to explore the unknown as we get older and our cerebral processes take over from our old brain. I saw non-physical beings regularly until I got too busy to give the invisible realm much attention (single mom, working a couple of jobs and going to school). Talking to the dead was normal for my female ancestors, so it didn’t really surprise me. One memorable experience I had was when I was around 21, and I saw my then-husband’s dead father standing at the foot of the bed. I recognized him from photographs and never did figure out what he was trying to tell me. Now, I mostly see the non-physical out of the corner of my eye and just feel it. And usually they show up for a reason. But, I also believe if I began focusing on all that interesting stuff again, it would manifest more clearly (we get more of what we focus on).
Wow, that is incredible! I don't think many people can say they have had or continue to have experiences like the ones you have. Thank you so much for sharing that with us!
You have worked a myriad of interesting jobs including: musician; copy editor; newspaper columnist; university instructor; psychic and tarot reader; psychotherapist; hypnotherapist, and more! Which of these occupations was your favorite and why? I’d also love to hear how you got your start in each of these careers! Do you continue to do any psychic or tarot work to this day? Why or why not?
I tend to be inner-directed. I’m liable to try anything that strikes my fancy. Some of the jobs, like typesetter, editor, were just to make money. I am pretty good with words and I type fast, so those were natural outlets. I started doing psychic/tarot readings when I was a teenager and I still do them. I have cut back over the last few years, though, because I’m not as fond of being put in the position of telling people what to do. As a psychotherapist, my job is to help the person uncover her/his own answers. People come to a psychic for the opposite reason and it began to be uncomfortable for me. For some reason, a lot of my psychic clients didn’t really want to accept that they have most of the responsibility for the way their lives are playing out – that our choices determine greatly how things unfold. They just wanted me to tell them something that was written in stone, and there’s no such thing. It’s all about possible futures. I can’t really pick a favorite career, since I still do all of the things I ever did. I just keep adding skills. I have a short attention span, I guess!
LOL. I don't think I'd say that! You've been very successful at all of your endeavors, so I'm going with multi-talented! :)
On your site you discuss making the switch from non-fiction to fiction. I, too, got my start in non-fiction. How was the transition for you? Did you find it to be difficult to go from non-fiction to fiction? Did you find your creative juices flowed freely or did it almost seem as though your novels read as non-fiction pieces?
Switching from nonfiction to fiction was an absolute delight and terribly challenging. My first few fiction efforts read like newspaper articles: just the facts! Where, when, how, why, what. My characters would sit there and have extremely long conversations, with no physical movements or indications of being in an environment. I still have to be careful not to turn my people into talking heads. Having good critique partners who reminded me to use all five senses helped me learn to add the physical to the cerebral. I still count on my crit partners to catch my in-the-head tendencies. But writing fiction was the most fun, ever. What could be better than making up stories featuring my favorite paranormal and supernatural characters? In many ways, writing fiction is much harder than writing nonfiction.
Oh, I agree completely! Fiction is definitely harder! But like you said, it is way more fun! LOL. :)
You say, “I’ve been a rabid fan of all things paranormal – especially vampires – since I first got my hands on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. To me, there’s just something fascinating about those extraordinary nightwalkers.” I agree! I am infatuated with them myself, also due to Mr. Stoker! I remember as pre-teen trying to write a vampire novel due to my passion for them, but it fell terribly flat (even for a pre-teen’s standards!). Any tips on how to write a GOOD vampire novel?
Vampire fiction has exploded over the last ten years. I keep hearing how “vampires are dead” (so to speak) and readers have lost interest. I don’t believe that. For some reason, vampires really struck a chord with paranormal fans, especially women. I think the best way to learn to write good vampire fiction is to read a lot. You also have to decide what kind of vampire fiction you want to write. The rules for romance are different than for fantasy, sci fi or horror. Do you want to write “monster” vampires or “sensual” vampires? Are you targeting adults or the YA market? All those choices will determine the tone of your writing.
Ok Lynda, now onto your books:
The first one listed on your website is VAMPIRE SHRINK - Book 1, Kismet Knight, Ph.D., Vampire Psychologist Series
It is listed as book #1. Can you tell us when we can expect book number two and how many will be in this series?
The Vampire Shrink has been reincarnated 4 times. First it was published by a small publisher in 2007 in trade paperback and managed to achieve modest success. Since my then-agent held onto the e-rights to the book for me (and I had no idea back then why I’d want such a thing), I put the e-book up myself on Amazon and Smashwords in 2010. It became a best seller, which lead to my getting the 3-book deal I have now with a joint venture between Quercus Books in London and Sterling Publishing in the USA. The British version of The Vampire Shrink came out September 1, 2011 and the USA version will be out April 3, 2012. When that book comes out, it will be the 4th time the book was published. That’s got to be some kind of record! My UK editor, Jo Fletcher, read the book that used to be book #2 (previously called Dark Harvest) and we decided it jumped too far ahead in the series arc. She asked me to write a brand new book #2 (called Blood Therapy). I’m madly working on that for a Dec. 31, 2011 deadline. The number of books in the series (either printed by a traditional publishing company or self-pubbed by me) is unlimited. Kismet can continue to have adventures as long as there are paranormal situations to mix her up in.
The heroine in this book is named Kismet. Is that because the outcome will be her kismet/fate?
Her parents named her after a Broadway musical they attended. And actually, I saw the musical Kismet when I was a kid and was enthralled. I always intended to use that word as a name at some point.
Is she, or any of the other characters, based off of yourself or anyone you know?
I believe all characters are aspects of the author. They are either conscious aspects, pro or con, or unconscious aspects. Wish fulfillments or fears. Desires or repressions. Facets of our inner parents. In the case of my main female character, Kismet Knight, she is totally me. We share the same profession and I get to live vicariously through her. Although she’s younger, prettier, thinner and having lots more romance and sex than me!
Of course, when I read the synopsis for UNDEAD IN THE CITY, the first thing that jumped out at me was that Tempest was a musician. Did you use your experiences as a musician to help create this story?
Since I don’t like to do traditional research, I write all my stories based on what I know. I absolutely used my musical background and experiences when I created Tempest. I need to go back and expand and deepen that story. It was only supposed to be a short work for a possible anthology. I haven’t had the time yet to give it the time it deserves. Tempest and Malveaux are a frisky couple! And, I was raised in the inner city of Detroit, so I’m very familiar with the setting of the story.
Once again, you have a strong heroine (with again, a very beautiful, unique and interesting name) as your lead character. Do you find it is easier to write stories with female leads rather than males?
I know more about women than about men. Most of my therapy and intuitive clients have been women. I’m an expert on female psychology. It’s much easier for me to write women. I tend to make all my males intelligent and verbal with dry humor. I don’t know how to write a typical alpha male, since that isn’t the type of man I’m attracted to. I try to make my males extraordinary in some way: either intellectually brilliant or talented in some special way.
Who is your favorite character in this particular story and why?
LOL. I’m rather fond of Uncle Stix. You’d have to read the novella to figure out who he is!
Diary of a Narcissistic Bloodsucker is third on the list. I absolutely love the title! What inspired you to write this novel and with this kind of angle?
Diary is a 12,000-word short story. I needed something snarky/funny for an anthology and I just started writing a flow-of-consciousness story about an incredibly self-absorbed vampire. Most vampires are narcissistic, but Zara, the main character in this little story, is the poster child for self-absorption. She doesn’t pretend to be anything other than she is. She isn’t seeking redemption. She likes having a personality disorder! LOL
What is one thing you can tell us about this book that you think would surprise readers?
I never expected it to be published. When the anthology I wrote it for didn’t happen, I was able to sell it to an e-publisher, where it did very well as a humor story. It was even in the Fictionwise top 10 for humor for quite a while. I eventually asked for the rights back so I could put it up on Amazon myself.
Lastly, Trick or Treat is listed, but the author is Hera St. Aubyn. Is this your book? What can you tell us about this book?
Trick or Treat is a tiny mini-story, written under a pen name, because I thought it was erotica. LOL. I since discovered that my version of erotica is pretty vanilla. I just don’t seem to have the gift for writing that level of heat. I’m better with spicy and hot. I mean, how many different ways can you describe those actions? But this little story was published by an epub and now I give it away for free.
Do you have any WIPs or up-coming releases?
I’m working on Kismet book #2 and on a short story in that world, about Devereux the main vampire, for promotion for the USA version of The Vampire Shrink. I am looking forward to writing other things when I can.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Here’s my contact info:
website: blog: http://paranormalityuniverse.blogspot.com
book trailer at you tube: http://youtu.be/zhkVHTlWwVg
Any final thoughts you’d like to share with us?
I’m having a giveaway at Goodreads of 5 copies of the USA version of The Vampire Shrink when it comes out in April, 2012. It would be great if you could spread the word. Here’s the link to that page:
I’d love to hear from readers! I try to answer all my emails, so please let me know what you think about my books!
Thank you so much!
Thank you, Lynda! Take good care! Happy Halloween and Happy Reading to you and our readers! :)