Behind Their Books, with Hilary Latimer

Behind Their Books

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Today’s interview is with cozy knitting mystery author Hilary Latimer.

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Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

In my real life, I’m a knitting designer. I’ve been doing it for longer than I want to admit – but it’s been a fun ride! You can find me on the knitting social media site, Ravelry, where I run mystery knit-a-longs in my group: Criminal Knits. When I’m not playing with yarn and sharp pointy sticks I like to kill people…in my books!

I’ve been writing forever under a variety of names, but several years ago my editor looked at me one day and said, “Why are you not writing knitting mysteries?” To which I did not have an answer. We read about ten books in the genre by various authors and our take away was:

The main character needed to be a dumpy, female middle-aged knitting shop owner who hated men or had a semi-boyfriend about who they were indifferent. There needed to be a token, over the top, gay character. There needed to be waaaaay too many pages describing dusting, vacuuming, tea making and… by then I’d had enough. And so my sexy, hot FBI agents and their quirky girlfriends (the knitters) were born. I can not tell you how much fun I’ve had writing them!

I have a lovely husband who understands dinner is not happening when I’m writing, and two grown sons who turned out incredibly well despite having a slightly deranged mom! I’ve been owned by any number of Gordon Setter dogs, they will always have a special place in my heart.

How are your books published? Are you self-published, traditionally published, a hybrid? What lead you to choose that path?

I’m self-published. It’s less stressful and leaves me in control as to content, editors, when I publish and what my covers look like. Which, in this subgenre where all the covers look the same, is hugely important. I wanted to make sure my covers were something completely different – which they are!

Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

Lynn Flewelling, John Sandford, Mercedes Lackey, Lily Morton, C.S. Poe, Rhys Ford

What are some books and/or authors who’ve inspired your writing?

I’ve come at this sideways. I was literally inspired to write in this genre when I finally read a knitting mystery and I was like – seriously? This is awful….

Is there a genre you would like to write in but haven’t or don’t feel that you’d be able to write?

I’d love to write a fantasy hero’s journey type of series – and I have an idea, but for now it’s just swirling around in my head!

What was the most challenging book you’ve written so far?

Dancing in the Dark. Romance is HARD. No lie. It’s much, much easier to kill people! Luckily the book had both. But, yeah, the romance bits almost killed me.

Would you ever want to co-write a book with someone else? And if so, who would you like to write with (alive or dead)?

I actually am! We’ve been working on a series about an all-female detective agency with a very – macabre – twist. Pen names for both of us as this most definitely does not fall into the cozy mystery sub-genre!

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you normally listen to?

No. I literally can not think with music’s going on. Or leaf blowers. Which explains why I’m up long after sensible people are in bed sleeping!

Do you write at a computer or do you still write by hand? With me, I write my poetry by hand, but mainly write prose on a computer.

I start off writing by hand on the back of old 8 x 11 sheets of paper cut into quarters. It started as a way to recycle old knitting patterns for general notes – like shopping lists – but since most of my books wander into my head while I’m designing new knitting patterns, they quickly became the scraps I could jot down scenes and ideas on while still designing!

Once I have a nice stack of scenes written out on my bits of paper I lay them out in chronological order and then start writing out an in-depth outline based off of them. Generally something in the realm of 12k – 20k words. Once I like the look of that I switch over to my laptop.

So, to answer your question, I start off writing by hand.

Is your reading mainly inside or outside of the genre you write?

Mostly outside. I do love a good fantasy, and a romantic murder…..!!!

For readers who haven’t read your work before, which book do you suggest they start with?

Either Malice in Wonderland – if they want a straight fluffy cozy, or Dancing in the Dark – if they’d like something a teeny bit less cozy. All my Knitting Game Mysteries can be read as stand alones, although the same main characters are in all of them.

Do you feel that your genre as a whole is becoming more diverse or have you not noticed a lot of change in recent years?

I can only speak for my sub-genre and no, it really isn’t. I’m the exception, with my main characters being hot male FBI agents who have girlfriends who knit, instead of middle-aged women who own knit shops. But that’s about as diverse as our genre gets.

How have you as an author helped the growth of diversity in the book world, whether in your own writing or actions in the community?

Wow, tough question, but a very valid one. In my cozy mysteries, which we’re talking about here, I haven’t really since my settings and characters are drawn from my own experiences.

Book adaptations…is there one that you’d say was great? Or is there one that you just couldn’t stand?

The Lord of the Rings. AWESOME.

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Find more about Hilary Latimer from:

Goodreads | Amazon

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If you’d like to be the next author interviewed, click on the image at the top of this post to find out how!

Behind Their Books, with @adrienne_wilder

Behind Their Books

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Today’s interview is with gay romantic speculative fiction author Adrienne Wilder.

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Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m a writer, artist, saltwater aquarium hobbyist, dog owner. I was born and raised in GA. I used to catch all kinds of creatures as a child and hide them in my dresser drawers. I failed creative writing in college (think it was a high d). And when I had a boarding kennel I had a client try to hire me to assassinate their grandmother’s dog.

How are your books published? Are you self-published, traditionally published, a hybrid? What lead you to choose that path?

I was originally published by publishing houses now I’m 100% self published. I chose to self-publish because I wanted to make a living off my writing and that was going to be a lot easier when not giving up the majority of money made from sales.

Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

Too many to list

What are some books and/or authors who’ve inspired your writing?

Dean koontz, Michael chrichton, Steven king, J.R. Ward, Anne McCaffery, and of course a myriad of m/m authors.

Is there a genre you would like to write in but haven’t or don’t feel that you’d be able to write?

I think I’ve pretty much written in every subgenre to some extent. I like to mix them up pretty good in my books.

What was the most challenging book you’ve written so far?

The Sicarii books because of the character Marcel. What made him so difficult to write was trying to get into the head of a person with no conscience. Not just a sociopath but someone who had had all inhibitions and self gain human beings are born with torn from them through horrific training and reconditioning as a child. A human machine, yet not mindless, who follows a set of rules he has been programmed with and yet can follow them in a way that allows him to help others see their worth. He’s not saving people he’s changing who they are. He’s not a hero or a villain. He’s simple what everyone else good, neutral, or evil, are not. Knowing that about him I had to fight to understand what drove him to act and in many cases had to concede I never would decipher his psyche. He has no wants, no anger, no love, no hate, no desire, yet above all things understands life is the most valuable thing and those who trust you with theirs are priceless. And those who break the Rules* must surrender that gift whether they want to or not.

Would you ever want to co-write a book with someone else? And if so, who would you like to write with (alive or dead)?

Yes and no. The idea of co-writing a book with a great number of different authors sounds exciting but I’m afraid I’d be a terrible co-writer because I’m too controlling and selfish when it comes to writing a story. I guess the process is just too private for me to want to share.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you normally listen to?

Sometimes. When I do it’s usually rock, alternative rock, or symphony.

Do you write at a computer or do you still write by hand? With me, I write my poetry by hand, but mainly write prose on a computer.

Both. Especially when writing more than one book at a time I will write some long hand in legal pads, others on my desktop, others on my netbook. I’m surprised I have any keys left on the net book.

Is your reading mainly inside or outside of the genre you write?

Both. While I prefer and enjoy reading m/m romance I read outside my genre to force myself to see how other authors structure a story. It also helps me learn to spot weaknesses in my plot or delivery. I also don’t just read what I consider to be strong writing, and I do it to learn what I don’t want to do in my own stories.

For readers who haven’t read your work before, which book do you suggest they start with?

Contemporary: In the Absence of Light, Science Fiction: NoX, Thriller: My Brother’s Keeper series, Survival: Wild, Suspense: Sicarii series, Dark Dirty Urban Fantasy: Bound Gods series, YA: Jack

Do you feel that your genre as a whole is becoming more diverse or have you not noticed a lot of change in recent years?

Yes I think it’s becoming more diverse in both sub genre and the people writing it.

How would you like to see the bookish community be more inclusive and diverse? What steps do you think could help this happen?

I honestly don’t know. I guess I’m too much of an introvert to even know how to begin suggesting ideas.

How have you as an author helped the growth of diversity in the book world, whether in your own writing or actions in the community?

I don’t know if I have an answer for this either. I just write stories that come to me. I don’t write with any kind of mission or goal in mind (except to bring a good story and characters) to the table.

Book adaptations…is there one that you’d say was great? Or is there one that you just couldn’t stand?

I liked the Harry Potter movies better than the books but only because I think the movies were more fast paced and visually appealing.

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Find more about Adrienne Wilder from:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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If you’d like to be the next author interviewed, click on the image at the top of this post to find out how!

Behind Their Books with @nystacey

Behind Their Books

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Today’s interview is with romance author Stacey Agdern. And if this interview isn’t enough for you, tune in for livestream event where Stacey and Avery Flynn will be on a livestream for the Escondido Public Library over on Facebook. That’ll happen this Saturday (May 23rd) at 6PM PST.

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Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

Hmm. I’m a born and bred New Yorker, I’ve lived in Montreal, Albany and two months in Brussels, Belgium, and yet am back in a town about 40 minutes north of New York City, known for its affinity for horsemen 🙂 I’m a hockey fan, (Rangers and Riveters) , a music fan and avid concert goer, a reader, former reviewer and a romance fan.

How are your books published? Are you self-published, traditionally published, a hybrid? What lead you to choose that path?

A hybrid 🙂 I love collaborating with others, so a lot of the self pub aspect of my writing is anthologies and the shorts I write for them. My solo stuff has been traditional so far (one book *g*).

Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

There are SO many. What I will say is that my most recent unputdownable reads are by Rebekah Weatherspoon and Alechia Dow. I’m currently reading a book by Diana Biller that is going right into unputdownable territory.

What are some books and/or authors who’ve inspired your writing?

I think writing what I do makes me think so much about inspirations. The writers I wrote about in this article  inspire me daily. Also writers like Jennifer Weiner and Judith Arnold who paved the way for me. I stand on the shoulders of giants and I think about that fact daily.

Is there a genre you would like to write in but haven’t or don’t feel that you’d be able to write?

I have an urban fantasy romance sitting and waiting for me to be a better writer, as well as a science fiction romance with alternate history elements that’s trying to insist it’s something it’s not to force it’s way into my current writing schedule. Unfortunately for both of those, I’m not ready yet for them. But I will be 🙂

What was the most challenging book you’ve written so far?

Never Again, a short story that appears in the third of the rogue anthologies, It’s the only story that I’ve written that features a character with a pet, and for good reason. I have difficulty talking about it, but I’m so very glad I wrote it.

Would you ever want to co-write a book with someone else? And if so, who would you like to write with (alive or dead)?

I’ve shared characters with Emma Barry; I share elements back and forth with Isabo Kelly, Kenzie Maclir and Cassandra Carr in the Empires series. Co-write? Hmmm. There are definitely a few people I’d love to write with and have actually discussed co writing with a few people 🙂 But nothing’s come of it yet . We’ll see what happens 😉

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you normally listen to?

A compilation of country, pop and contemporary jewish music as well a smattering of other things. I’m pretty open to music, so give me all the recs 🙂

Do you have any playlists to go with your books?

Yes! Every single book I write has a playlist 🙂 Find me on Spotify.

Do you write at a computer or do you still write by hand? With me, I write my poetry by hand, but mainly write prose on a computer.

Mostly by computer but there are moments where I write by hand, especially when I get a really good bit of dialogue that I don’t want to forget 🙂

Is your reading mainly inside or outside of the genre you write?

A bit of both. I read both non-fiction and fiction, and the fiction side is very much mostly romance with a few exceptions these days.

For readers who haven’t read your work before, which book do you suggest they start with?

Until Miracles and Menorahs comes out, it’s a toss up between ‘Home for Chanukkah’ in Burning Bright and ‘Truth Love and Sushi’ in the first rogue anthology.

Do you feel that your genre as a whole is becoming more diverse or have you not noticed a lot of change in recent years?

I absolutely think it’s changed and become more diverse. As an example, my October book, my debut solo title, Miracles and Menorahs, would not be a single title book that would have been published by ANYBODY ten years ago. And yet it’s coming out October 13.

Miracles and Menorahs isn’t the first own voices Jewish book, nor is it even the first romance novel that mentions or has characters who celebrate Hanukkah. But it’s the first traditionally published single title where the Jewish characters and the holiday they celebrate takes center stage.

How would you like to see the bookish community be more inclusive and diverse? What steps do you think could help this happen?

So there are tons of efforts by so many different people; for example, Kwana Jackson’s We Need Diverse Romance’ movement as well as Rebekah Weatherspoon’s ‘ WoC in Romance as well as a few amazing people spearheading some brilliant Latinx conversations and a few different LGBTQIA focused new release/promotional groups.. Every time Romance Class releases a new book, I get excited about what Mina Esguerra is spearheading in the Philippines. I can go on and on and on.

I support and follow all of these movements and conversations, but what I can contribute to this conversation is my Judaism. I dream of Jewish romance reader groups, a thread and website that promotes releases by Jewish romance authors, and so many more things. Jews have a presence in romance and I’d love to see more of it 🙂

How have you as an author helped the growth of diversity in the book world, whether in your own writing or actions in the community?

So there are two things that I do as a writer which shape the stories I write : (I talked more about the community in the previous question.)

First, I make sure that the composition of my stories secondary characters reflect the world I live in. That’s basic common sense as a writer. People who live in vibrantly diverse cities and towns and don’t reflect that in their writing are doing it wrong.

But also, because I’m a member of a marginalized community myself, my primary characters reflect the world I see, the world I live in. I made the decision a few years ago to solely focus on writing stories that focus on Jewish characters. My stories are told through the lens of my Judaism. It made sense to me that my characters should be Jewish too.

Now to finish off with a fun, and often controversial questions: Book adaptations…is there one that you’d say was great? Or is there one that you just couldn’t stand?

Hmmm. Adaptations. I love ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han, which was adorable. I also love the adaptation of ‘Christmas Kisses and Mistletoe Wishes’ by Jenny Hale.

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Find more about Stacey Agdern from:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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If you’d like to be the next author interviewed, click on the image at the top of this post to find out how!

Behind Their Books with @annabellamicha1

Behind Their Books

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Here’s my interview with Contemporary Gay Romance author Annabella Michaels

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Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I’m married with two grown children and I live near Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve been writing for almost 4 years.

How are your books published? Are you self-published, traditionally published, a hybrid? What lead you to choose that path?

Self-pub. I love the freedom it gives me in choosing when and what I write.

Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

NR Walker, Nicky James, Jaclyn Osborn, Jaclyn Quinn, Tal Bauer.

What are some books and/or authors who’ve inspired your writing?

Riley Hart, Tal Bauer, NR Walker.

Is there a genre you would like to write in but haven’t or don’t feel that you’d be able to write?

Young adult, MF romance

What was the most challenging book you’ve written so far?

The Swap. The reason The Swap was so challenging for me was because it was the first book I wrote that took me out of my comfort zone, so to speak. Before that, I wrote mostly, sweet, funny, heartwarming stories and that was the first book I wrote that pushed some boundaries. It was also a concept many people had never heard of before, tossing your keys in a bowl and letting fate determine who you’d spend the evening with. Thankfully, people were very open to the idea and it turned out to be my best-selling book to date.

Would you ever want to co-write a book with someone else? And if so, who would you like to write with (alive or dead)?

Yes, I have several friends I’ve talked to about collabing. I’m currently working on a collab with Aimee Nicole Walker.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you normally listen to?

I can’t listen to anything with words or it distracts me. I prefer listening to thunderstorm sounds.

Do you write at a computer or do you still write by hand? With me, I write my poetry by hand, but mainly write prose on a computer.

I outline all my books by hand but write the books on a computer.

Is your reading mainly inside or outside of the genre you write?

Mostly within my genre, but sometimes in the mood for MF romance or a good mystery/thriller

For readers who haven’t read your work before, which book do you suggest they start with?

Feeding the Souls: Souls of Chicago series book 1

Do you feel that your genre as a whole is becoming more diverse or have you not noticed a lot of change in recent years?

We’re definitely becoming more diverse and readers have become much more accepting.

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Find more about Annabella Michaels from:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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If you’d like to be the next author interviewed, click on the image at the top of this post to find out how!

Behind Their Books with @shondabuchanan

Behind Their Books

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It’s time for another look Behind Their Books! I asked Shonda Buchanan some questions this time. Enjoy!

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Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I’ve been alive. Since 9. That’s a kind magical feat that I am proud of, yet I know it’s not magic: I’ve worked incredibly hard at cultivating my craft and life as a writer.

How are your books published? Are you self-published, traditionally published, a hybrid? What lead you to choose that path?

Four of my books were published by small publishers; one of my books is a hybrid published book. I published my first chapbook when I was 26 in 1994 with a grant from the California Community Foundation but I was first published when I was 16. A local poet in my hometown liked a few of my poems and published them. I don’t know if I choose writing or if writing choose me, but it’s been the metronome of my life.

Who are some of your favorite authors to read?

Toni Morrison, Joy Harjo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Lucille Clifton, Edward P. Jones, Octavia Butler, Scott Russell Sanders, Edwidge Danticat, Sharon Olds. So many.

What are some books and/or authors who’ve inspired your writing?

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Light in August by William Faulkner, Homegirls and Handgrenades by Sonia Sanchez, e.e. cummings Selected Poems.

Is there a genre you would like to write in but haven’t or don’t feel that you’d be able to write?

No because I already write in every genre except theater. I write screenplays as well.

What was the most challenging book you’ve written so far?

Black Indian, my memoir, was my 20 year book. I started writing it when I was 26 but I’d put it away for years at a time because I had to work and raise my daughter. It was just published in Aug. 2019.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what do you normally listen to?

I listened to music when I wrote my first novel and sometimes when I wrote my memoir, but it’s not a must-have for me.

Do you have any playlists to go with your books? (If you can, could you provide a link if you have it on Spotify or just a list on your website.)

Not really. I’m kind of old school but if I had to make one, I guess it would be a mixture of Sade, World Music, African music, and East Indian music.

Do you write at a computer or do you still write by hand? With me, I write my poetry by hand, but mainly write prose on a computer.

Both for sure.

Is your reading mainly inside or outside of the genre you write?

I read and teach workshops and classes in all my genres, on and offline.

Would you ever want to co-write a book with someone else? And if so, who would you like to write with (alive or dead)?

I don’t think I’d like to do that because I don’t want to fight with another author. Maybe I’d co-write something with my daughter, if she were a writer. But she’s not.

For readers who haven’t read your work before, which book do you suggest they start with?

Black Indian would be my first suggestion. Then Who’s Afraid of Black Indians.

How would you like to see the bookish community be more inclusive and diverse? What steps do you think could help this happen?

The literary industry needs more Black and Brown editors in position to buy and promote books by Black and Brown writers. And not as a favor to us, but because we belong in the cacophony of voices. The end.

How have you as an author helped the growth of diversity in the book world, whether in your own writing or actions in the community?

I know my book Black Indian tells the story of two ethnicities that suffered both oppression at the hands of colonizers but also forged communities in solidarity.

Book adaptations…is there one that you’d say was great? Or is there one that you just couldn’t stand?

Gosh. Such an unfair question. The books are always better. But the film adaptation of Beloved did not make me happy.

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Find more about Shonda Buchanan from:

Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads | Amazon

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If you’d like to be the next author interviewed, click on the image at the top of this post to find out how!