Donna Hatch is a bestselling author at Wild Rose Press for two consecutive months for her Regency romance, The Stranger She Married. She was also a finalist in the Golden Quill Contest, recognizing outstanding published authors. Her current novel, The Stranger She Married, and novella, Trouble Hearts have both received four and five star reviews across the board.
Vicki Gaia picked up a pen and wrote her first story after she opened her art gallery. Since she didn't have time to create artwork she wrote short stories instead. She’s a computer geek, loves to read graphic novels (favorites right now are Birds of Prey, Batman and Nightwing), watch Japanese anime, and play on her PS2. Her iPod is her best friend when she needs to blot out the world. History is another one of her passions and she loves the excitement of discovering an interesting tidbit or strange event about the past. Her formative years came on the cusp of the Sixties generation, and influenced her way of perceiving life, politics and social issues. Her female characters are free-spirited, fiercely independent, and live on the edge of what was considered sociably acceptable.
Hello Ladies, thank you for spending the day with us. Let’s start by introducing yourselves. Where are you from and what did you want to be when you grew up?
DONNA: I am a native of Arizona and I’ve lived here most of my life. When I was a child, I wanted to be a ballerina, an actress, and an author. I took ballet lessons, was a drama geek in school, and now I write, so I did them. Sorta.
VICKI: California but I really love living in the desert -- even the hot, hot, hot summers! I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up!
Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors have influenced you and your work?
VICKI: I don't have a favorite author. I read so many books and genres that it's impossible to point out any one author as an influence. I do love a good murder mystery and would love to write one some day.
When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?
DONNA: I love love love to read! I also sing, play the harp, ski - both water and snow - and play with my children. And as cheesy as it sounds, I love more than anything to just hang out with my husband, dancing, going for walks, or just cuddling.
VICKI: Yep, too many. My husband and I love to travel and we try to plan a vacation overseas at least every two years. We are going to Japan this May. I love Japanese modern art, anime and yaoi, and I can't wait to eat their sushi :) I also enjoy dinner with friends and family. It must be the Italian in me.
Do you have a favorite book or series?
DONNA: I love anything by Lynn Kurland or Julia Quinn and I am currently working my way through everything by Sharon Shinn and Georgette Heyer.
VICKI: I read murder mystery series. Lately, I'm into the Maise Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear.
Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?
DONNA: Here’s my elevator pitch for Book One of the Rogue Hearts Series, The Stranger She Married: Torn between a disfigured war hero with the heart of a poet, and a handsome libertine who may not be all he seems, impoverished Alicia must marry by the end of the month. Despite a murder threat looming over her, learning to love the Stranger She Married may pose the greatest danger of all…to her heart.
My inspiration sorta came from Phantom of the Opera. I like to do the ‘what ifs.’ What if the Phantom wasn’t a killer, what if he was just misunderstood? That kind of thing. This story sort of evolved from that, only there are no phantoms or operas.
VICKI: I have switched genres this last year. I decided to focus on a paranormal romance involving angels and priestesses set in contemporary San Francisco. I've always been fascinated with ancient sites, history and mythology. I needed a change from writing historicals and a new challenge. I also write male/male fiction under another pen name and had three books published this year: two paranormal and a contemporary.
How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?
DONNA: I’ve been writing since I was a child so it’s been a long road in that regard. But since I finished this manuscript and began actively looking for a publisher, it took about a two years to get a publisher.
VICKI: It took me a few years to get published. I'm still learning and the publishing industry is changing as rapidly as the music industry had a few years ago. It's an exciting time to be an author but also frustrating as well. It's best if I concentrate on writing and perfecting my skills.
Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?
DONNA: I’m very excited about book two of the Rogue Hearts Series, The Guise of a Gentleman which is coming in April 2010. A perfect English lady meets an unforgettable man who is gentleman by day, a pirate by night. Her quiet world is shattered when she is dragged into his world of violence and deceit. She may not survive the revelation of his past, or still love him when his secret is revealed. To quote Jennifer Ashley, "Combining Jane Austen with swashbuckling adventure, The Guise of a Gentleman is a fine specimen of pirate romance!"
I also have a fantasy coming soon called Queen in Exile about the last surviving heir to the throne who must place her life and the fate of her kingdom into the hands of a trained killer.
VICKI: I've been busy writing sequels - a M/M vampire romance and a shape shifter romance. I also need to get back to my 'angel' paranormal which needs polishing. I finished it a few months back and haven't been ready to look at it again. I have a fantasy series brewing in the back of my mind, but I have so many projects I'm not sure when I'll get to it.
Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?
DONNA: I usually have a vague idea of where I’m going, but mostly I let it flow. I had to develop my heroine but my hero pretty much stepped off the page fully developed.
VICKI: I sit down at my laptop and begin to write a few chapters, then I plot. This causes more editing but it's the way it works for me.
Do you write to music or the TV?
DONNA: I sometimes listen to instrumental music, but nothing with lyrics or a drum beat; I have to totally ignore it or it’s too distracting.
VICKI: I usually have my iPod blaring when I write. I put it on shuffle - and believe me - it's an eclectic mix of music. From Queen to Andrea Bocelli to the music of Hildegard von Bingen!
People often think of writers as hermits, closed off in a room, clacking away at the keyboard until the final page is typed. Do you consider yourself this disciplined as a writer?
VICKI: No, no, no...I can never be a hermit. I do some of my best writing at my neighborhood coffee house where I know everyone there! I have a hard time sitting down for any length of time to write...that's just not my personality. I write in spurts but it seems to work for me, and I can't beat myself up over it. It's just how I am. If I tried to write so many words a day, or so many hours a week, it would take the joy out of writing, at least for me. That isn't to say I'm not disciplined when it comes to my editing deadlines. I'm a stickler for being on time when it comes to working with my editors.
Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?
DONNA: No, I pretty much write whenever I can squeeze in a few moments and I’ve learned to tune out the chaos around me. And with six children, believe me, there is plenty of chaos at my house.
VICKI: I guess friends have called me eccentric before but as far as my writing? I have to begin each new book by cleaning my desk off - then I buy myself a folder for my notes. Not sure that's really eccentric?
They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?
DONNA: I carry my laptop around with me and work wherever I am.
VICKI: Okay...let's see...I have a fairly large office space painted in a calming Cape Code blue with a textured rice paper arch. Lots of artwork on the walls, a globe, two chairs that were in my family for over fifty years - (now upholstered in purple and maroon), desk with my files, laptop and iPod speakers, and bulletin boards behind my desk crammed with postcards, pictures, story ideas including a giant poster of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin (AZ Cardinals wide receivers). And, of course, bookshelves, one displaying my goddess collection.
What do you consider your guilty pleasure?
DONNA: Chocolate! Okay, really, anything sweet and decadent. I have an equal opportunity sweet tooth.
VICKI: My Nespresso machine!
Can you tell us a bit about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?
DONNA: It’s called POWER EDITING. Vicki and I put this workshop together to help you discover how to pump up the tension and create page-turners. You’ll learn fresh editing techniques to strengthen each scene. You'll find rhetorical devices you can apply in your work immediately. You'll also discover how to deal with backstory, identify disposable words, how to turn clichés into a twist, and back loading. All these tips and tricks will give you power to throw your best emotional punches and create stories that will keep your readers enthralled.
Thank you very much ladies. It’s been a pleasure.
You can find out more about these lovely ladies by visiting their websites.
Donna Hatch: http://www.donnahatch.net/
Vicki Gaia: http://www.vickigaia.com