Today on the blog we welcome author Pam Hillman. Pam Hillman writes praire romances with heart and description that will leave you lost in another time. After publishing her first e-book Stealing Jake with Tyndale summer 2011, Pam’s story-telling skills are back with her upcoming Winter 2013 e-book Claiming Mariah.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent my teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, Daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so I drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when Daddy asked me if I wanted to bale hay, I told him I didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so I spent my time working on my tan and making up stories in my head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Imagine me as a first grader falling in love with story. Picture a grandmotherly teacher named Mrs. Smith putting her charges in a circle in tiny wooden chairs and transporting us to another world during story time. Add in weekly visits to the undersized, under-stocked library tucked behind the hardware store in our small town. From the moment it clicked that ordinary people strung ordinary words together on paper to create anything but ordinary tales, I wanted to be one of those people.
If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be / Why?
How about a composite? Hadassah, A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers; Mattie Ross from True Grit; Ruby Thewes, Cold Mountain. All of these women are resourceful, strong, and independent. Women who show some grit and get the job done regardless of their circumstances.
While I admire these fictional women, I’m not sure I would want to be one of them.
If you could be any literary character of YOURS, who would it be/ Why?
The street kid named Luke in Stealing Jake. One reader said that Luke’s story was interwoven so much with Jake & Livy’s story that she couldn’t imagine one without the other. Even though delving into Luke’s story wasn’t part of the original draft, he kept niggling at my brain, and once I added the thread in his point-of-view, the story felt complete. Luke is just a kid, but he risks his life to search for his little brother, and becomes a father figure of sorts to the other street kids. Given the same circumstances, I would hope to be half as brave, caring, and compassionate as Luke.
Describe your novel in seven words or less.
Love turns a quest for revenge into redemption.
Do you have a favorite character in your current book? Tell us a little about him/her.
I enjoyed getting to know Mariah’s grandmother. Grandma Malone doesn’t dance around particulars or stand on ceremony. This line sums Grandma Malone up to a tee. She gave him with that peculiar look of hers that said she was old enough to say what she wanted and get away with it.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
Without giving away too much of the story, I wrestled with Red Harper. What kind of man was he? What were his redeeming qualities? What were his faults? How did he get to where he was in his life? People find themselves in tough situations all the time with no way out just like Red did.
What got you into writing?
I was born to write. From as far back as I can remember, I made up stories in my head. When I learned to read, it simply amazed me that people could create a story out of the pictures (in color, no less) in their heads, and I wanted to be able to do that. For a long time, I didn’t attempt it. But in my late twenties, I decided I’d better put up, or shut up, and the rest is history. The personal computer had just become available to consumers. I wrote my first stories on an Apple Classic and an Apple MacIntosh LC475. I still have the MacIntosh. As much as I love writing and story-telling, I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude to write long-hand and then have to go through revisions and copy-edits and galleys all long-hand. I’m amazed at the authors who accomplished so much with so little.
What is your favorite genre to read/write? Are they the same?
Historical romance, especially during the great westward expansion. Cowboys, wagon trains, sodbusters just seem to click with me. I’m a country girl, and big city themes have never been my first choice for reading or writing.
What books have influenced your writing most?
I have a dog-eared copy of Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, and a host of other writing books, but I cut my teeth on the Christian books being published in today’s market. I learn so much about improving my craft from reading books by my peers.
If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I have a friend who house sits for international clients. That would be an amazing job. She’s been to Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Italy. Stays for a month or two at a time. Yes, that would be my dream job.
How did you choose the genre you write in?
Sometimes I think the historical romance genre chose me instead of the other way around. I’m a farmer’s daughter by birth, farmer’s wife by choice, and I’ve spent a bit of time on the back of a horse, hauling cows to the stockyard, and driving tractors.
You are a part of Tyndale’s Digital First Program. What drew you to publishing digitally?
When the call went out for submissions to Tyndale’s Digital First Initiative in 2011, I never hesitated. Tyndale has always been my dream publisher as far back as the Heartquest line from a few years ago. My very first query letter was to Karen Ball when she was at Tyndale House.
Digital publishing is the new frontier, and with the potential to offer both digital and print to readers, what’s not to like?
Could you briefly describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?
Recently, I have had the privilege of devoting more of my time to writing. I am committed to writing three-four hours a day. Deadlines can add several hours to that, but it’s not a daily occurrence.
I write my rough draft on my trusty laptop, flipping back and forth from a Word document to an Excel spreadsheet where I plot the overall points of the story. Of course this document grows and changes as the story unfolds, but I can add, sort, and delete scenes as needed. I’m interested in using one of the programs specifically designed for writers, but just haven’t made the jump from my cavewoman spreadsheets.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Believe in yourself. I tamped down the dream until I was almost thirty years old because the author bios and the glamour shots on the back of the books in the bookstore intimidated me. Who was I to think I could compete with such poise, such sophistication, education, and competence? Surely those authors came from wealth and power. But sometimes that glamour shot might be an illusion, the bio polished a little too brightly.
You, dear writer, are God’s child, a child he’s gifted with the desire to write.
Go forth. Write. Do not squander your gift.
Thanks to Pam for sharing her process with us!
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Come here tomorrow to hear more from Pam on her writing process and her motivations behind her upcoming e-book Claiming Mariah.