KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a full–time writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself.
Raised in Chicago, Sue Hinkin is a former college administrator, television news photographer (one of the very first women—maybe the first) and NBC-TV art department staffer. With a B.A. from St. Olaf College, she completed graduate work at the University of Michigan and was a Cinematography Fellow at the American Film Institute. She’s a dedicated member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She lives with her family in Denver. Deadly Focus is her debut novel.
1. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Sitting at my PC with my dog sleeping at my feet, a hot cup of coffee in my hand as snow gently falls outside the window and great ideas flow like a big ol’ river. Unfortunately, that’s about 2% of the process.
2. If you were to choose one superpower, what would it be?
I’d wield a golden ruler that would make all immediately behave by the Golden Rule. Basic empathy. Definitely a critical skill for a writer who must step into so many different shoes to tell the whole story.
3. Do you ever get stuck when you’re writing a book? What do you do to get “unstuck”?
Take a walk, go to yoga, get up in the middle of the night to watch a BBC drama, continue to sleep badly, whine to my critique group and read books. Usually somewhere in there a decent thought shakes loose.
4. What is your least favorite part of writing?
Starting a new book is both the best and the worst. Starting a new project is exciting, all those cool ideas, but months of corralling them into something worth reading is a grueling process.
5. If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Well, I don’t really cook, but I bake. The main dish would be something I throw into the slow cooker, but I’d add some crusty cranberry walnut bread, and desert of rhubarb pie a la mode, a maple pecan torte, and chocolate cherry bread pudding with a hint of cinnamon. Then I’d call the EMT to resuscitate us.
6. What do you wish you’d done differently when you first started the publishing process?
I’m glad I didn’t focus initially on the publishing process and just wrote the books.
After I’d finished Deadly Focus, I became immediately aware of how much I had to learn about this volatile business which seems to morph into something different every few weeks. Organizations like Sisters in Crime-Colorado, Mystery Writers of America, and the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers provided amazing resources and smart, supportive colleagues to help with the learning curve. You’re one of those terrific people, Karen, who help us all understand the whole process better, particularly the marketing.
7. What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?
I love writing characters. They come to me like friends who I slowly get to know. I’ve been blessed to have had a wealth of interesting people in my life to draw from.
The emotions part comes pretty freely, so I think conflict is the challenge. Despite writing murder and mayhem, I’m basically a nice, loving person who wants to see everyone get along.
8. A penguin walks into your office, right now, wearing a sombrero. What does he say to you and why is he here?
He’d be looking to frame me for the murder of a Mexican frozen foods mogul he snitched the hat from.
9. If you could wave a magic wand, what ill in the world would you solve and why?
World peace, of course. That would lead to solutions for all the other problems.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Deadly Focus?
Writing Deadly Focus was a personal journey through which I learned to be a writer. I had no clue when I started this book that I’d be working on it for so many years through so many chapters of my own life. The story has changed and evolved as much as I have.
Even during the writing of this novel, I never imagined it would ever be a real published book. The incident that changed my thinking in that regard was when Michael Connolly and James Lee Burke’s agent, Phil Spitzer, asked for a full manuscript. I’d had at least a hundred previous rejections. I seriously almost had a coronary when I received the request. I met Connolly that week at a book signing in L.A. and told him that Spitzer wanted to read my novel. He shook my hand and said, “Phil never requests anything, good for you.”
Ultimately Spitzer rejected the book because it turned into too much of a romance—I was in a romance writer’s critique group at that time and was just figuring out that I was a hard-core mystery writer. He was right to reject it, but the fact that he liked the writing changed my life. I went from a dilettante to seriously thinking: I CAN DO THIS!
And more credit where it’s due—without my critique group from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, I would never be a published author. I have learned so much in this irreverent, supportive, smart group where I feel like I can risk anything. What a gift!
11. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published? Please provide links to your website, blog, books, etc.
The Vega & Middleton Novels are a new mystery/thriller series featuring TV news reporter Beatrice Middleton and photojournalist Lucy Vega. Along with their family and friends in Los Angeles and Savannah, the two women take on some of the toughest criminals and risk all seeking justice, and sometimes, retribution.
- Book #1 Deadly Focus: L.A. photojournalist Lucy Vega’s beloved uncle plunges to his death in a Malibu canyon car wreck. The coroner calls it an accident, but when a Los Angeles County homicide detective and the chief of the counter-terrorism unit appear at the scene, Lucy and reporter Bea Middleton, suspect other terrifying possibilities.
- I’ve finished #2 in the Vega & Middleton Novel series entitled Low Country Blood. It features Bea Middleton as she returns home to evocative Savannah, Georgia to deal with an aging mother, family intrigue, and a murdered fifteen-year-old nephew.
- Book # 3, The Burn Patient has Bea and Lucy together again in Los Angeles facing a war for control of the black tar heroin trade and the return of Lucy’s nemesis, Gary Mercer, is back from the presumed dead. Burned beyond recognition, he’s hellbent on Lucy’s fiery destruction.
- Book # 4, In Dark Web, Shiny Fishes, Bea’s son Dexter’s former science teacher, now a UCLA Marine Biology doctoral student, has disappeared on her way to purchase a rare koi she discovered on the Dark Web. Lucy and Bea must find her before she falls victim to a disgraced ocean scientist’s sado-sexual mermaid snuff fantasies and throws her to the sharks, literally.
This entire series has a diverse, multi-cultural cast which has been both fun and intimidating to write.
12. Last thoughts…
- Do more of what you love.
- You are not too old, and it is not too late.
Be sure to come back to learn more about Sue’s novel, DEADLY FOCUS, on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog!
Links to Sue’s website, blog, books, etc.
Website and blog www.suehinkin.com
Amazon author page at www.amazon.com/-/eBO78SC7CFP