By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes
My blogging and spy novel writing partner, Holmes, and I have been restless lately. Fidgety and irritable. Unable to sleep at night. Piper even found herself re-arranging the objects on her writing desk into alphabetical order, muttering about blog hideouts, interrogations, and best selling authors. That’s when we knew it had happened. It was undeniable. We had become Best Selling Author Serial Interviewers.
Rather than deny ourselves the pleasure of talking with more greats like Sandra Brown and James Rollins, we began stalking our new target, Award Winning, Best Selling Author Vicki Hinze. We believe she is the perfect
prisoner guest for the Romance Doctors in this season of Valentine Love.
Vicki Hinze can write anything. She has several popular series from romantic suspense to military thrillers to Christian fiction and non-fiction books on the writing craft. She has published over twenty-five books in as many as sixty-three countries and won multiple awards since her writing career began in 1987. A kind and sharing lady who enjoys associating with others, Vicki Hinze is also one of the charter sponsors of International Thriller Writers and served on its Board of Directors.
We are honored today to welcome Vicki Hinze to our blog.
Please make yourself comfortable, Ms. Hinze…. What? Open a window? I do apologize, but that actually isn’t a window. We just put up some curtains because we knew you were coming and wanted to make the cement walls a bit cozier.
Thank you so much for allowing our black helicopter to bring you here to our blog hideout.
I appreciate the opportunity and the ride. You know I have a special fondness for all things military and those that fly. (I married a Hurricane Hunter I asked to get into something safer. He went into Special Ops. )
You have a well-deserved reputation for the sort of kindness and generosity that pays it forward. Who were some of the people who helped and influenced you when you were new to the publishing world?
There have been many. First, I’d have to say Nina Coombs-Pykarre. At the time she’d published about 60 novels, and yet she invested a great deal of her time bleeding red on everything I wrote. That was two decades ago, and I still in my head ask myself, “Would Nina buy into this?” Susan Wiggs has been another mentor. She’s a very savvy business woman and since the first time I met her has always been home when I’ve had questions or needed to talk over business issues. There’ve been many mentors over the years, and I’m grateful to all of them. In this business, you rarely have the opportunity to pay back those who help you, but you can pay it forward, and I’ve tried hard to do that and will so long as I’m able.
You write romantic suspense, military thrillers, science fiction, Christian thrillers, and pretty much everything else. Is there any correlation between events in your life and the types of book you prefer to write at any given time?
Honestly, I write about what I’m fearing most at the time or about something that sets me off like a rocket. For example, I was midway through a three-book contract for paranormal romance novels when I went to the commissary (grocery store on a military base). Anyway, this young airman and his wife were standing in the aisle debating between buying a jar of peanut butter and a can of tuna–they couldn’t afford both. I was stunned to hear that, went home did some research and discovered the lowest four pay grades in the military were eligible for food stamps. I went postal. They put their lives on the line for us, their families sacrifice too, and they’re eligible for food stamps? I went on a “this has to change” binge with elected reps (and it has now) and called my editor. I wanted to write military romantic suspense/thrillers that depicted the special difficulties soldiers and their families face. Like custody battles due to deployments. Military romantic suspense/thrillers hadn’t really been done, but the editor trusted me and we went for it. That gave me the opportunity to write about a lot of fears–environmental terrorism (before the phrase was coined)–fear of our water supply being poisoned, our food supply, dirty bombs. I wrote about all of those things in the mid 90s before they were totally on everyone’s radar.
It’s God’s sense of humor, when you get down to it. I hate to cook, so where do I have the most epiphanies? In grocery stores. And in a quirk I can’t explain, I marry my fears to them. That often results in a new sub-genre, or something being done differently than it has been, but I’m okay with that. It’s interesting and challenging. I gravitate toward challenges.
Your books or articles are published in over 60 countries. When publishers in countries that are very different from America contract for your books, do they ever ask you to change things to appeal to their local cultures?
Typically in these situations that’s established in contracts. That publishers can alter content so that it is consistent with the market in the distribution area. When you think about it, it’s it everyone’s best interest. Something that is ordinary and totally acceptable in one culture could be extremely offensive in another. The objective isn’t to isolate or irritate readers. Now, authors are seeing more contracts call for world rights and those contracts do retain rights on that front. Since the objective is to provide great reads, it’s a common sense thing to give the work the best possible chance for attaining its objectives.
Christian fiction is a relatively new publishing genre, if you don’t count the Book of Esther. Some people think Christian fiction is all about prayer meetings, devout pioneer women, and girls in fluffy dresses giggling over boys at youth camp, but your books include such gritty turns such as murder and human trafficking. How would you describe the Christian (faith-based) thriller genre to people who are not already familiar with it?
That’s a common misconception about the Christian fiction market and I’m not sure why it exists. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from life’s problems or insulate you from realities occurring in the world. What it does do is give you tools to cope with those challenges and an understanding that whatever you face, you don’t face it alone. Christian fiction is as diverse as human beings. You will find people struggling in relationships, struggling against bad things that happen to them, hard times, and all the rest. It’s a solutions-oriented genre, and one that embraces constructive solutions to everyday problems as well as ones we hope we never have to face.
Often what happens is out of our control. But how we react to it is in our control. Faith provides a foundation to sustain us and knowledge of faith provides us tools and constructive solutions. You’ll find the same diversity in the challenges, obstacles or conflicts that you encounter in any thriller.
Your newest faith-based thriller, NOT THIS TIME, was released yesterday. Would you please tell us about it?
This is the third book in my Crossroads Crisis Center series. The books all stand alone and you need not have read FORGET ME NOT or DEADLY TIES first. It’s a story about two friends that started what’s become a very successful business. One marries a man that the other can’t stand. When he goes missing, is kidnapped, and reported murdered, she becomes the prime suspect. Her partner, the man’s wife, is hospitalized, and this suspect, Beth, must choose. More than anything she’s wanted this man out of their lives. Now she suffers torn loyalties. Does she do the easy thing or the right thing? Does she put her effort and energy and resources into protecting him? It’d be right and best in her judgment to not lift a finger, but can she live with herself if she takes that route? And unless she finds the truth, will she be blamed for everything that’s gone wrong? Terrorism rocks the town and all signs point to someone close to her being responsible for it. She fears the truth. Fears uncertainty. And she fears the answer to a question she must ask: is anyone so evil that they’re beyond redemption?
Hard questions, and sometimes not-so-pretty answers. But we eventually have to face what is. Not what we wish or want to be reality. Yet when we do, we gain gems. New insights, bits of wisdom that help us endure and grow and move on in life stronger for the experience. Sometimes we discover that what we thought was true wasn’t true at all, and we face our futures with that expanded vision.
We have a big fan of yours here who would like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind a bit of dog hair.
Not a bit. I love pooches. Especially this rascal.
*crosses to intercom* Rolf, please bring in The Love Pooch.
Daisy. She had this opportunity to do this final interview with Ms. Hinze shortly before passing on.
It’s so nice to meet you, Ms. Hinze. *lick, lick, wag, wag* I love your books. You really know how to appeal to your dog readership with all of that action and romance. Dogs are all about being active and loving people.
Loyal, too. *scratching scruff*. It’s great to see you, Daisy.
My pet human tells me you enjoy oil painting. I know at least one of your books, BEYOND THE MISTY SHORE, involves a mysterious painting. Do you often incorporate art and painting into your books?
I don’t. Well, once in a while I do. It’s hard to get a lot of action and adventure going on there, and since 1995, most of the books I’ve done have had heavy military influences. Not much art or time for painting in between fighting terrorists and preventing biological, chemical or nuclear attacks, you know? Yes, Misty Shore, the first Seascape book, is about a mysterious artist and a particular painting of the mystical Maine, Seascape Inn. I also have an artist play a pivotal role in FORGET ME NOT, the first Crossroads book. Otherwise, it just hasn’t fit.
I know you also enjoy home improvement. I like home improvement, too. I’ll bet you can do much more with your opposable thumbs and tools than I can do with my teeth. Do you draw on your love of home improvement for any of your novels?
True about the thumbs, Daisy, but your teeth are far stronger, to be sure. Actually I finished a proposal for a mini-series of books on home improvement recently. I’m not sure yet I’ll write them, but you know the idea holds appeal. I love home improvement projects. A couple years ago, my pet human, a.k.a. Hubby, got tired of the racket and domestic upset and asked for a six-month moratorium on me knocking down any walls. I opted for a year. Then last February, we did two major projects. Both are done now except for a few tidbits. One more big project to go. Gutting the kitchen. Hubby’s an amazing woodcarver (usually of fish and ducks since I tried to kill the carved rattlesnake he had the poor judgment to leave on the kitchen bar overnight) and I’ve conned, er, asked him to build the cabinets. He agreed and wanted to get started now, but I suggested we wait until after hunting season. He liked that idea. Between you and me, Daisy, I did, too. I need the rest from all that hammering.
Would you mind dropping by Piper’s place and helping me fix a door frame I chewed? There was this little thunderstorm, you see, and….
I totally understand, Daisy. *rubbing scruff* Alex–I was her pet human–hated thunderstorms. She handled bombs being dropped on the range that jarred windows and teeth just fine, but lightning made her a nervous wreck. She loved to chew ice. Do you like ice? Alex would bat the icemaker on the fridge door and get her own. That worked out fine until we had a hurricane and no electricity. She batted and batted and got no ice. She was not a happy puppy about that.
Now, Daisy, it’s not appropriate to ask Ms. Hinze for home improvement assistance. She’s our guest.
*crosses to intercom* Rolf, would you please take The Love Pooch?
Wait. *Smooch* Bye, Daisy. You stay in touch and here’s a “cookie” *dog biscuit* for later when your pet human says it’s okay.
Thank you, Ms. Hinze. *lick, lick, wag*
Ms. Hinze, can you tell us anything about your current project? Will it be another faith-based thriller, or are you returning to one of your earlier genres?
I’m working on a new series, actually, called Lost, Inc. Two books are done. I’m just starting on the third one. Don’t know the title of it yet, but I think it’s going to be My Deadly Valentine (obviously a February planned release). They are faith-based romantic thrillers.
You know, every novel I’ve written, regardless of genre, has had suspense, mystery and romance. The defining factor has been which of those three elements gets emphasis, and to know that I have to develop the story or write it to see what happens. The Lost, Inc. books are romance with a mystery/suspense element in a faith-based setting. NOT THIS TIME is a suspense with a mystery and a touch of romance in a faith-based theme.
What comes after this third Lost, Inc. book? Honestly, I’m not sure. I have two others in progress that are unrelated, three possible new series, all of which are in some stage of development, a great idea for a new mainstream thriller series, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading in a genre I haven’t tackled to see if I want to tackle it. Could be fun, but the jury is still out. I need to read more books in it before deciding for sure.
When I finish this Lost, Inc. novel, I’ll know. One of the projects will start haunting me, nagging me, waking me up during the night with ideas, and that’s the one I’ll focus on next.
Are there any questions you wish we had asked you here today, or any further comments you would like to share with us?
If you don’t mind, I’d like to expand just a bit on your last question, for your readers who are writers, enough to say that it’s far easier to build a career by writing one type of book. You build a readership that knows what to expect from you and that helps gain momentum. I obviously haven’t done that. I’ve known that I should, but my mind doesn’t work that way and forcing it to violates my vision of success. I’m a purpose writer of healing books. So I follow where that takes me. Self indulgent? Yes. Harder to build a readership? Yes. Gratifying? Oh yes. But if you can write one type of book in one genre, that’s clearly better for building a career–provided it’s the career you want to build. Just tossing that out there because it’s worth making deliberate choices not drifting onto harder roads.
Thank you so much for sharing your time with us and visiting our blog. It’s been an honor. We’ll have to ask you to put the blindfold back on before you leave, but you’re welcome to take it off before you parachute out over your home. You might like to keep it though. It makes a lovely sleep mask.
Why thank you. I appreciate the lovely gift, and getting to visit with you here in the cave. I’ve read about it, of course, but visiting firsthand is a whole different experience. And my very best *hugs* to you and Holmes, Piper. Oh, wait. I nearly forgot. I brought gifts. A gold pen for you, Piper. No, that’s not your name inscribed on it. It’s the guarantee. “Thou shalt never experience writer’s block.” And this is for Holmes. *passes box.* I know how much Holmes loves things that go boom, so here’s a new ACOG scope for his Sig. All the bells and whistles–aim is everything, dahlink.
What thoughtful gifts! Thank you so much, Ms. Hinze. You are every bit as gracious as your reputation foretold.
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Ms. Hinze is safe once more in her writing cave, and our interview-junkie shakes have calmed for the moment. Our sincere thanks to this lovely, talented lady whose heart is becoming legend in the writing world. You can find her new book at NOT THIS TIME, as well as all of her books at her website, Vicki Hinze. Also, you can find NOT THIS TIME at a Christian bookstore near you. Find a Christian bookstore near you.