Hello everyone, I’m about to present you with yet another attention worthy author – Lynne M. Hinkey. She was kind enough to answer some of my questions. Go on and read her answers! I hope you’ll find her answers just as interesting as I did 😀
Thank you so much, Magda, for taking the time to talk with me, and letting me talk with your readers. I’m always happy to chat about writing, reading, and books. Please feel free to leave a comment and/or ask a question in the comments below, or contact me through my website (www.lynnehinkey.com) if you’d like to chat more!
Your books have a curious mix of mythology, fantasy, and pure imagination and I bet your readers would love to know how did you manage to combine it all?
I set off to write a spoof of all the over-hyped vampire rage that went on for a few years. I knew the story would include the chupacabra, so expected to include the folklore behind that very-modern myth. Then as I went back and read the firsthand accounts from the time of its first “appearance” in Puerto Rico in the early/mid 90s, it became clear that the many and varied stories about this creature were some strange blend of folklore, mythology, and some classic science fiction. They all contributed to the chupacabra’s background: part vampire, werewolf, demon, alien, and irradiated mutant. Turning the monster from an evil demon-beast into a god opened up avenues that allowed me to incorporate different world religions and deities from throughout history into the story, too.
Without giving too much away, with the premise that belief brings the supernatural to life, I knew there had to be more gods and monsters out in the world, and what had started out as a single book (Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons), expanded into a trilogy so that a few of these could get involved in the chupacabra’s adventures.
How did your favorite authors influence your own style and stories?
My favorite authors include Tom Robbins, Christopher Moore, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and JK Rowling. They all incorporate magic and fantasy into the real world (or a parallel world that’s pretty similar to ours). I especially love when they use humor to get at deeper human truths and point out our foibles. They are all masters at using language in beautiful and unexpected ways. I also love complex stories that weave in different perspectives. All of these authors except Rowling tend to tell their stories from multiple POVs. That complexity of weaving a web from seemingly disparate, unrelated characters, pulling them in closer to the story’s heart, with the plot unfolding from their different angles, keeps me engaged–it’s how I “see” stories, rather than from a single character’s POV. For me, that captures how we all go about our lives: We’re all in this story together, and no one person has all the information. We don’t get anywhere until we all come together with our piece of the puzzle. Curiosity about how and when that will happen keeps me turning the pages in the books of my favorite authors and I hope it keeps the reader turning the pages in my stories, too.
What is the best part of being a writer?
I get to spend all day with my imaginary friends! It’s quite liberating–a perfect no-judgment zone. I can be completely myself, and I can also be these other people I’ve created when I need to be, to get in their heads and be true to their voices. All the oddities and quirks that are part of me have an outlet in my stories. In writing, and in exploring all these many and varied characters, I feel more like the real me than anywhere else.
You’ve created a fantastic set of characters, but how do you manage to control all of them so well?
I’m an over-the-top plotter. For as disorganized as I am in most areas of my life (you should see my desk!), when I write, I tend to really be a hyper-organized planner. Before I start writing, I need to know where the story is going, the main plot points along the way, and how I’m getting there. With a story told from multiple POVs, it’s essential that I know when, where, how, and why each one of the characters’ stories progresses to make sure they intersect with other characters at the right time. For me, that choreography involves a lot of diagraming. First, I roll out butcher paper on the dining room table, break out the colored pens, and using a different color for each character, map out key plot points for each character with arrows showing where their stories overlap, crisscross, and merge. Then, I figure out where natural chapter breaks occur and block off chapters and scenes. Finally, I use index cards to outline each scene within a chapter. That way I can rearrange them or change whole scenes, if it makes sense as I write. Since it’s all written out and color-coded, if I do make a change, I can fairly easily edit to ensure that the change is carried through consistently from beginning to end. After all that, the story and characters are like old friends when I do start to write. They can still do things that surprise me and change the story, and I allow for and even expect that, but I can also discriminate between a valid change and an unnecessary tangent or detour and so avoid taking it.
Would you identify yourself with one (or maybe few) of your characters?
I really try to remove myself from the characters in the story. I’ve had interesting experiences that I can weave into stories, but I don’t think I personally am nearly as interesting as my friends and the characters that live in my imagination. One of my biggest turnoffs in reading is a Mary Sue or Gary Stu protagonist, so I’ve been determined to not fall into that trap with my characters. Taking me out of the story helps with that. As I said in a previous question, these are all my dear imaginary friends, and all that friendship implies–we have some shared qualities that draw us to each other. The common ground–bits and pieces from my life–informs the characters. Kiki is a swimmer and avid reader; Señora Milagros sometimes comes off as scatterbrained or a bit of a flibbertigibbet, but she’s actually quite shrewd and has a scary temper, too; and Joe Raines is an oceanographer. So, they aren’t based on me, but I identify with bits of a lot of them.
As a writer, you probably do a lot of reading too. What’s your favorite media?
Anything with words on it. I was a bit resistant to e-readers to begin with for all the usual reasons one hears: the sensory experience of a book. I like the feel of a book in my hands, the smell of books, the shushing sound of pages turning. But, once I got a tablet and started reading on that, I can now appreciate the virtues of electronic reading too: the convenience of being able to carry lots of books in a little space and adding more as needed without my bag getting bogged down while traveling or my shelves overflowing with books I’ll never read again. It also lets me stay awake late reading in bed without a light on so I don’t disturb my husband. For books that I really love, I buy the print book even if I have it in electronic form.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I wish something about my writing was habitual! I try to squeeze my writing in here or there when I can, and how diligent I am about that varies wildly. Probably the one habit that I do have that’s unusual–or not, I’m not sure–is the outlining process I described above.
Is there any book-to-movie adaptation you like and can watch over and over?
All of the Harry Potter movies. I’ve read all the books at least a dozen times–no exaggeration–and we own all the DVDs. We’ll have Harry Potter marathon weekends every now and then. Even so, I still get glued to the television whenever they’re on TV.
Did you have any funny memory connected to your writing, an event that particularly fell into your memory?
When I am in the throes of intense writing, I’ll often get really caught up in the story, and excited about some scene or other. When my husband comes home and asks about my day, I’ll start telling him some wild tale that some character did. The first couple times, he’d get confused trying to figure out which of our friends I was talking about. Now, when I start telling him something interesting that happened, he’ll interrupt to ask, “Are we talking about real people or did this happen to one of your imaginary friends?”
Any last message for your readers?
The best pieces of advice I got at the very start of my writing career were:
- Write. Read. Write more. Read more.
- When you’ve finished your first manuscript–novel, short story, essay, whatever it is–stuff it in a drawer and forget about it for a month. Then come back and look at it with fresh eyes, as a reader, not a writer. Then rewrite it, only better. Revise. Edit. Revise more. Edit more.
- And those two together make this third one clear: Don’t be in a rush to publish. Be in a slow, long, tedious marathon to publish the best piece of writing you can.