Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Robin Lee Hatcher is the best-selling author of over sixty books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards including the 2000 Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the 1999 and 2001 RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction, and the 2001 RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, Catching Katie was named among the Best Books of 2004 by Library Journal.

Robin began her writing career in the general market, writing 30 romances for Leisure, HarperPaperbacks, Avon Books, and Silhouette. In 1997, after several years of heart preparation, Robin began to write stories of faith for the Christian fiction market. She’s written both contemporary women's fiction and historical romances for CBA publishers.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She’s passionate about the theater, and every summer she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying plays under the stars. She makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon.

DRose: It’s wonderful to have you here, Robin. Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I was born in the small town of Payette, Idaho, but only because my aunt’s husband was a physician and my parents drove there from Boise so he could deliver me. I was raised in Boise and have never felt the urge to live elsewhere, even though I love to travel.

Although I have always been a “compulsive writer,” I wanted to be an actress. But it didn’t fit into my life as young wife and mother as easily as writing did. I’m still passionate about the theater and can be found every summer attending the Idaho Shakespeare Festival’s productions from June into September.

DRose: How long did it take for you to get published and what was the journey like?

I wrote my first book, long hand on legal pads, in 1981. It took me about 9 months, working on it evenings and weekends and typing it on the office typewriter during lunch and coffee breaks. I sold it in early 1982, but the publisher went bankrupt that summer. By that time I’d written the sequel. I sold both of them in early 1983 and they were published in early 1984. Sadly, that small publisher released the books without any editing, so all of my blunders, clich├ęs, and adverbs galore are in print.

Eventually I began to get well edited and really learning my craft. I also got a terrific agent who has challenged me to grow as a writer as well.

DRose: Which would you say is your favorite book or series?

That’s like asking me which of my daughters is my favorite. I can’t answer it. Every book was written at the time because I was passionate about the idea. Usually the book I’m most fond of at any given moment is the one for which I’ve just received a glowing review or received a letter/email where a reader raves about it.

DRose: Do you plot your story before you write it or do you sit and let it flow?

I’m a seat-of-the-pantser. If I try to plot in advance, I get bored with the story. If I know how it ends, why bother to write it? My own curiosity is already satisfied. I often do what is called a “rolling plot,” where I sit down in the morning and journal about what I need to accomplish that day, asking questions from the characters’ POVs, etc. I see it sort of like headlights on a car. The rolling plot allows me to see just enough ahead that I don’t drive off the road or hit a deer.

DRose: Musicians often note the musicians who influenced them. What authors have influenced you and your work?

More than anyone else, I would have to say Francine Rivers. She is a writer and a person I would hope to emulate in numerous ways. Her books are always affecting and powerful, and some of them have changed my life in ways both big and small. And she is a woman of grace, which I certainly hope can be said of me. It was her amazing book, Redeeming Love, which first planted the desire in my heart to write Christian fiction. (Interesting note: It hasn’t fallen off the CBA bestseller list in over 10 years.)

DRose: When you're not writing, do you have any hobbies or interests?

I’ve taken up knitting again after a 25 year break and have enjoyed it a lot. I’m also interested in photography and in painting (pictures, not walls!) although I don’t find the time to do enough of either of them.

DRose: Tell us more about your book. What's it about and what inspired you to write it?

My 62nd novel will release in mid-May 2010. A Matter of Character is the third book in the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series. The series began with the question: Who says a woman can’t do a man’s job? Gwen, the heroine of the first book (A Vote of Confidence; 1915), runs for mayor of the town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho. Her sister Cleo, the heroine of the second book (Fit To Be Tied; 1916), is a horse wrangler on their dad’s cattle ranch. And Daphne, who is the sister of the hero of the first book, is the heroine of the third book (set in 1918). Daphne secretly writes dime novels under a male pseudonym. Here’s the blurb:

Who Says a Woman
Can’t Keep a Secret?

It's 1918, and Daphne McKinley, heiress to a small fortune, has found contentment in the town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho. But Daphne has a secret.

A series of dime novels loosely based on local lore and featuring a nefarious villain known as Rawhide Rick has enjoyed modest popularity among readers. Nobody in Bethlehem Springs knows the man behind the stories … except Daphne.

When newspaperman Joshua Crawford comes to town searching for the man who sullied the good name of his grandfather, Daphne finds herself at a crossroads, reassessing the power of her words, re-thinking how best to honor her gifts, and reconsidering what she wants out of life.

DRose: Any current projects you're excited about and can share with our readers?

Well, at present, I am totally gutting an existing manuscript and rewriting it. I can’t claim to be excited about it at all. However, I have a new series idea stirring around in my imagination. It’s too early in the process to talk about it yet. It needs a bit more time to gel. I can say that it’s another historical romance series, set in the west in the late 1800’s.

DRose: A lot of authors like to write with some background noise. Do you write to music or the TV?

I like to write to movie soundtracks (without words). When I go to see a movie, I always pay attention to the music to see if it would make good writing music. While I can write with the TV on, I don’t get as involved in the story, so I avoid the TV when writing.

DRose: Do you consider yourself eccentric as a writer? Is there something you must have or do before writing?

I’m sure I have my share of eccentricities (writers are a quirky lot), but I don’t have anything I must do before writing. I begin my day with exercise, Bible study, and prayer. Then I check email and Facebook. And finally I open my WIP and get to work.

DRose: Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer?

There are a lot of distractions in my life, including the aforementioned email and Facebook. So I have to be determined about putting the behind in the chair and getting the work done.

DRose: They say you can learn a lot about a person by their surroundings. What does your work area look like?

My desk is always cluttered. I try and try to get a handle on it, but I think the paper (bills to pay, correspondence to be answered, etc.) is reproducing at night while I sleep. But I don’t have nearly as much paperwork connected to my WIP as I used to. Now I have some wonderful software on my MacBook that I use to keep all of my character photos and research notes in. You’ll have to attend my Organizational workshop to learn more about that!

I am also surrounded by a lovely original oil painting of one of my covers, a number of awards including three RITAs and a Christy, and, of course, books, books, and more books. And, my dog’s bed is nearby so my sweet but noisy companion can be comfortable while I work.

DRose: What do you consider your guilty pleasure?

Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, which I gave up for Lent and hope I’ll ignore beyond Easter. They aren’t conducive to good health and a proper weight.

DRose: Can you tell us a bit about the workshop you’ll be doing for the Desert Rose Conference?

I’ll be leading two workshops:

Staying Organized Amidst the Chaos

This workshop is always a hit at conferences. I cover ways to keep the writing life organized, tricks which have helped me keep track of my characters, my time lines, my research, and much more. I show examples on an overhead projector and encourage participants to find what will work for them.

It’s Not About Prayers & Preaching: Weaving Faith into Your Inspirational Romance

Traditionally, romances have included the external/action plot thread and the internal/emotional/romantic plot thread. The inspirational romance includes a third and equally important plot thread: Faith. Knowing how to do that in a seamless manner will determine whether or not a writer succeeds as an author of inspirational fiction.

Thank you for spending the day with us Robin. We’re looking forward to having you at our conference.

To learn more about Robin Lee Hatcher visit her website at


  1. Wow, your desk sounds a lot like mine! I'm putting your organizational workshop on my must-see list for conference. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I could definitely use some help getting organized.
    Do you think getting rid of the children would help ;-)

  3. HI Robin, can't wait to attend your Staying Organized Amidst the Chaos workshop. I find myself burning too many hours dealing with everything BUT the writing. Would love some tips! Thanks for the great interview!