Saturday, January 3, 2015

An Interview with Suspense and Young Adult author Bonnie Hearn Hill ...

Hello-Hello and how are you today? Did everyone have a safe and fun-filled holiday season? I hope so. I did. Happy New Year! I hope that all your hopes, dreams and wishes come true for you this year! I also hope everyone is doing well and happy! Welcome back to my blog where I try to share whatever I think may interest you. Today I am once again interviewing a fellow author. And with me this time is suspense and young adult Bonnie Hearn Hill.
Bonnie has graciously accepted me into her domain to take up some of her writing time to talk about writing and her novels. So please, without further ado, let us welcome Bonnie to the pages here.
Thank you Bonnie so much for spending time with us...  
SJ: From newspaper editor of a major newspaper for 22 years to novelist, how did that transformation take place?  What kind of schedule did you have for writing?
BHH: When I began writing novels, I was very young and didn't know what I wanted beyond words on a page. Once I connected with my longtime agent, I knew I wanted to write fiction about characters and situations I cared about. At the time, I thought of it as women's fiction. I didn't aspire to write suspense. It just worked out that way.
I got up at 5 most mornings before I went to work, and I wrote when I returned home. My job was far from glamorous. I edited special advertising sections for a major daily newspaper, which meant I spent much of my time interviewing people on the phone on topics such as health/fitness, weddings and real estate. It did teach me how to write in the voice of another person, it showed me how interesting the most unassuming people were if one dug deeply enough, and it forced me to write every day. In 2001, I signed with my dream agent, and she created my career. Our first deal was for six novels. One was a newspaper series, and three were stand-alone suspense novels. I’ve never looked back.
That was so long before that I was essentially a first-time author when I got the MIRA deal. I’ve written more than 20 books and co-authored others. My first novel was published with a small house. I got the rights back years ago, and it is now in pre-production for film. Then I published several nonfiction books on writing and other topics.  In 2002, I got my six-book deal with MIRA. After that, I did the three YA Star-Crossed novels for Perseus/Running Kids Press and a paranormal love story for another small publisher, Black Opal Books. This year, I signed for a new series with a large UK publisher. That's the beauty of writing today and it's different from the way it was when I started. Writers don't have to be locked into one genre or one publisher.
SJ: In your Star Crossed series of young adult books the titles are Aries Rising, Taurus Eyes, and Gemini Night. How did astrology become part of this series? How much influence does astrology have on your stories in general?
BHH: The three-book YA deal with Perseus/Running Press was based on the idea of a teen girl finding an old astrology book and using it to try to change her life and the lives of her friends. My best friend is humorous astrology writer Hazel Dixon-Cooper, who wrote the Cosmopolitan Magazine astrology column for eight year. She’s in my writing critique group and was the inspiration for the series.

SJ: After writing so many novels, short-stories, etc. how and where do you continue to get your ideas for human rights?
BHH: My interests are social justice, human rights, and women’s issues, and my first novel was set during the Delano Grape Strike of 1965. It’s been optioned for film and is in pre-production right now, so I’ve revising the book. That’s a painful process, let me tell you. It’s like editing someone else’s work. Even in my suspense novels, I try to write about issues that matter to me. In IF ANYTHING SHOULD HAPPEN, which will be published in March 2015 by Severn House in the UK, my series protagonist is trying to find her biological mother, who is an abused wife. GOODBYE FOREVER, the second in that series, deals with runaway kids.

SJ: What do you love most about being a writer? Least?
BHH: I always say I love it all even when I hate it. My ideal day is this one in December with rain blurring the windows of my office, a cat or two on the desk, and a new book in my head and heart. But when I’m speaking at a writing conference, teaching a class, mentoring another writer, then those are my best days.

SJ: What writer inspired you most and how?

BHH: I had no mentors, which is one of the reasons I spend time mentoring other writers. In fact most of the women writers I knew personally had husbands to support them. I believed that if I wrote every day, read every day, and tried to stay a little out of my comfort zone, I might have a chance.
I was influenced by authors with strong voices and characters I couldn't forget. Joan Didion was one of those. And my high school English teacher was the first who taught me how to think and to strive for honesty on the page. Mr. Hearn didn't ask the usual questions that required memorized answers. Instead he asked questions like, "Would MacBeth go to hell?" He was a major influence.

SJ: You do a great deal of mentoring: If you could give just one piece of important writing advice to an aspiring writer, what would it be?
BHH: For nonfiction writers, ask yourself: Who is my reader, and what do I want to tell this person? For fiction writers: Whose story is this, and what does this person want? It’s difficult to stop here, I must admit, because that’s just the beginning. Perhaps the most important advice is to treat this as lifetime work and tend to it every day. You will never “find” the time to write. You have to make the time.
Choose the publisher carefully. Although Black Opal Books is small, it is also approved by Mystery Writers of American and International Thriller Writers. So if you're good, you could end up nominated for a major award. You have to decide what you want. I'm glad I started with a large publisher so I knew how the business worked and what to expect. However, all of my publishing experiences have been overall positive ones.

SJ: In closing, Bonnie, what is a favorite book you enjoyed reading and would recommend without hesitation? Why?
BHH: After Kent Haruf’s recent death, I went back and reread PLAINSONG. It’s a quietly stunning novel about people coming together in the most unexpected of circumstances. 

And now for the latest book released from Bonnie in July 2014… 
Abby Walsh has a gift she doesn’t want. Every time she reads someone’s handwriting, she sees a lot more than just words and letters. She can, for a moment, become the person who originally wrote those words. She hears their thoughts. She knows their feelings. She can see what they see. But Abby’s gift is more like a curse as it caused her to lose both her mother and her marriage. Before the so-called gift costs her anything else, she resolves to give it up forever.
But when Abby’s father commits suicide, she can’t help herself. She has to read his final note. Instantly, she knows he didn’t write it. His killer did.
With the help of her psychic ex-boyfriend Collins, Abby is determined to figure out who murdered her father and why. She learns quickly that her dad was not the only target. A few days earlier, Judge Valerie Hallowell was killed. The judge was linked to a vigilante feminist group called ERIS, a dangerous group of women that Abby’s father was investigating. Abby is determined to figure out their role in these faked suicides, murder, and other violence.
LAST WORDS by Bonnie Hearn Hill is a gripping suspense with characters you will love, romantic tension, and a plot that will make your heart race. 
LAST WORDS is available at these links for purchase:  
Bonnie Hearn Hill is the bestselling author of six other suspense novels, including IF IT BLEEDS, CUTLINE, OFF THE RECORD, INTERN, KILLER BODY, and MISTRESS.
She is also the author of TIL MORNING, a brand new work of historical fiction, GHOST ISLAND, haunting paranormal fiction for young adults, and, with Christopher Allan Poe, she is co-author of the practical non-fiction book, DIGITAL INK: Writing Killer Fiction in the E-book Age.
Bonnie speaks at conferences across the country, leads a successful writing workshop in Fresno, California, and mentors numerous writers.
Follow her on twitter @bonniehearnhill or visit her on Facebook, or at

Thanks Bonnie for visiting with us. Thank you all for stopping by. Bonnie, please return any time. It was fun.
Until next month...every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart.

S. J. Francis
 In Shattered Lies: "It's All About Family."  Coming in 2015 from Black Opal Books.

My Black Opal Books Author Page:

View My ShoutOut:
 A Book Review 4 U:
A Consumer's View:



  1. I've been one of the many who have been lucky enough to take a workshop with Bonnie, and sometimes I learned more in 30 minutes or an hour than what I learned in a semester of creative writing classes. Her books are almost as fascinating as she is! Thanks for the interview, SJ!

  2. Correction--Her books ARE fascinating. Thanks for all the inspiration, Bonnie.