Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Three Authors, Three Questions: January 2012

Our three honored guest authors for this first installment of Three Authors, Three Questions are Colorado writer of vampire mysteries Lynda Hilburn, Wyoming mystery writer Craig Johnson, and Massachusetts thriller writer Michael Palmer.


Lynda Hilburn is the author of The Vampire Shrink, now available as an ebook, and other paranormal novels of humor and/or romance. She has been a rock-and-roll singer/musician, a typesetter/copy editor for various newspapers and magazines, a professional psychic/tarot reader, a licensed psychotherapist, a certified clinical hypnotherapist, a newspaper columnist, a university instructor, a workshop presenter and a fiction writer.

Since switching from writing nonfiction to fiction in 2004, she’s had a wonderful time creating stories about her favorite paranormal characters. She has been a rabid fan of all things paranormal – especially vampires – since she first got her hands on Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Lynda’s blog is Paranormality. Blood Therapy, the new sequel to The Vampire Shrink, will be released in 2012.

1. Lynda, where did you grow up and what do you remember most about your childhood in that part of the country?

I grew up in the inner city of Detroit. At the time, I wasn’t aware that I was living in a dangerous neighborhood. I thought the police were a constant presence on everyone’s block. During the early years, I remember playing kickball in the alley behind the apartment building, and the Halloween when a bunch of teenage guys stole my goodie bag and my mother took off running down the street after them. One of the best things about being a kid in Detroit was living near Motown and seeing all the recording stars who hung out there.

2. Of all the characters you’ve created in your novels (including the bad guys), which one is your favorite and why?

I really like my main female character, Dr. Kismet Knight, best because I get to live out my wildest fantasies through her. She’s an idealized version of me: thinner, younger, prettier and having lots of relationships with appealing vampires and interesting humans. Her clients are even more fun. I like watching her grow and change over the series. She has to decide every day if the benefits to being a mortal in the bloodsucking world are worth the cost.

3. If you could return to the beginning of your writing career, and if you knew everything you’ve learned along the way, what would you do differently?

Oh, lots! I wouldn’t take anything personally. I wouldn’t waste time comparing myself to other authors or trying to “write to market.” I’d figure out which rules I wanted to ignore even faster than I did. I would realize the advice: write, write, write was key. You can’t sell what you haven’t written. Now, with the state of ebooks and self-publishing, I can put up everything I write (with required good cover, good blurb, good editing, good formatting, etc.) and make money from them. I can’t believe how much time I wasted re-writing the same things over and over. I’d remember agents work for us (and not vice versa) and that without authors, there would be no publishing.


New York Times Bestselling author Craig Johnson has received high praise for his Sheriff Walt Longmire novels which have received a superfecta of starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal. The seven books have garnered awards such as the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, the Western Writer’s of America Spur Award as well as the Mountains and Plains book of the year. The seventh book in the series is Hell is Empty.

Johnson’s novels have been translated into numerous languages and have won the Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs, and the Le Prix 813.

The books are now being produced as a television series for 2012 entitled Longmire for the A&E Network starring Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackoff.

1. Craig, you live in Wyoming and so does your series character, Walt Longmire. What do you love most about that part of this great country?

My wife Judy has a wonderful saying about Wyoming , about how it’s a place you can go to get away from just about everything—but yourself. There aren’t very many people, but I’m okay with that. Somebody once described France as an oil painting and Wyoming as a charcoal sketch which is fine; things become more apparent in the contrast of black and white. The high plains give me the solitude and focus that I need to write the books. I enjoy the touring and the travel; meeting people and talking with them about my work, but what I enjoy the most is the peace and quiet of being at my ranch and writing. I like to think that’s something that Walt and I have in common, an ability to draw strength from place.

2. Of all the characters you’ve created in your novels (including the bad guys), which one is your favorite and why?

The Longmire novels are written in first-person, which means that the sheriff is never very far from my thoughts or narrative. I tend to refer to Walt as a detective for the disenfranchised, a man whose secret weapon is his compassion for the less fortunate or forgotten members of society. I think he has an empathy for the outsiders because, in a sense, he’s one himself; a rogue male somewhat driven off from the herd, even if it is a self-imposed exile.

Another thing I like about him is his ability to surprise me. I was talking to Greer Shephard, the producer of the A&E series based on the books and she asked me if thought of Walt as being a verbose person and I said yes. She told me to go through one of my books and highlight his dialogue, what he actually says… She was right; he thinks a great deal but doesn’t say much.

3. If you could return to the beginning of your writing career, and if you knew everything you’ve learned along the way, what would you do differently?

My greatest regret, and I work at having none, is that I didn’t get started writing earlier in life, but to be honest I don’t think I could’ve written the books I have until later. I feel pretty happy about where I am in my writing, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t nurse a certain artistic dissatisfaction. I think the worst thing that can happen to a writer is to start believing that you’ve arrived. I think when you associate yourself with an art as subjective as writing it’s kind of like being on a fast and willful horse; you may think you know what you’re doing, but that can change very quickly.


Michael Palmer, M.D., is the author of seventeen political/medical thrillers translated into thirty-five languages. He trained in internal medicine at Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals, spent twenty years as a full-time practitioner of internal and emergency medicine, and is now an associate director of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s physician health program.

Michael’s 17th novel, Oath of Office, introduces Dr. Lou Welcome, a 42-year-old ER doc in Washington D.C., who lost his medical license for an alcohol and drug addiction and, subsequently, lost his marriage as well. Oath of Office is scheduled for release February 14, 2012. Inspired by Robert Kenner’s 2008 Academy Award nominated documentary Food Inc., Oath of Office exposes the often overlooked realities in the corporate food system.

1. Michael, where did you grow up and what do you remember most about your childhood in that part of the country?

I was born and raised in Western Massachusetts in the industrial city (then 200,000) of Springfield. The city, just east of the beautiful Berkshire hills (or small mountains) had a diverse population that was mostly separated with white middle class in the east and immigrant/black/economically stressed in the north. We lived in a suburban-like area called Forest Park. I went to the same elementary school, junior high, and high school as my father, an optometrist.

Once an elderly English teacher in 9th grade got angry at me to talking in class, and shouted at me using my father's name. I was a terrible behavior problem in school, constantly acting out, seeking attention, and getting mostly Bs and Cs. My parents were asked, not so politely, to get me to a private school. Instead, they moved to Longmeadow, a suburb with a harder high school. I must have matured during the move, because I got all As until I graduated and ended up at Wesleyan in Connecticut, the college of my choice.

2. Of all the characters you’ve created in your novels (including the bad guys), which one is your favorite and why?

Dr. Jessie Copeland, star of The Patient is certainly one of my favorites. She is a self-made woman with an M.D. and a PhD in bio-engineering. Despite pressure from her mother to settle down and "find a nice man", Jessie continues her research in robotics and work in her specialty--neurosurgery. Because of her MRI-guided surgical robot and other successes in the OR, she is chosen by one of the most secretive, remorseless assassins in the world to operate on his brain tumor.

More recently, I have grown fond of Dr. Lou Welcome, the protagonist in Oath of Office and the currently-underway Political Suicide. Lou works in the ER part time, and part time as an associate director of the D.C. Physician Wellness Program caring for sick doctors. It's job similar to the one I have in Massachusetts.

3. If you could return to the beginning of your writing career, and if you knew everything you’ve learned along the way, what would you do differently?

The truth is, my writing life has been close to perfect for me. Perfect agent . . . perfect editors . . . perfect publishers. Success and money mean something to me, but have never been motivators to write harder. I did what I enjoy, and if it no longer was fun and rewarding, I would have stopped. Of course, it never hurt to have an M.D. degree to fall back on. The only thing I might choose to do differently is to write faster earlier in my career. But if writing faster meant curtailing my medical life, I wouldn't do it until I was absolutely ready to cut back.


Mini-interviews arranged and compiled by Pat Stoltey. Many thanks to Lynda Hilburn, Craig Johnson, and Michael Palmer for graciously agreeing to participate in the Three Authors, Three Questions series.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks very much for this new series! It's very interesting to get to know these authors better.

Dean K Miller said...

Wow...great perspectives and words, brought to us, yet again, from Pat! Thanks.

This series is great.

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Pat!! I found each author interesting and inspiring. As a psychotherapist, I can relate to both Lynda and Michael, while my not-so-secret-identity as a cowgirl makes me want to read Craig's books. And all of them reminded me that writers write! A great new series - thanks so much.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Margot, I'm enjoying these authors so much. Everyone I've contacted so far has been very receptive to the idea.

Hi Dean -- Thanks for the kind words.

Good morning, Jan. Are you a secret cowgirl, too? I cut my reading teeth on Zane Grey novels and have been hooked on the West ever since.

Lynda Hilburn said...

Thanks for including me, Patricia! And for putting me in such great company!

Patricia Stoltey said...

You're most welcome. You do have some pretty awesome company today.

j. a. kazimer said...

Pat, I love this. Thank you!

Natasha Wing said...

I love this format. Interesting, quick to read, and fun to see different answers coming from 3 different authors. Great job!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks Julie, and you're most welcome.

Hi Natasha. Thanks for the kind words. I'm very encouraged to get such great cooperation from all the authors I've contacted so far.

E.J. Wesley said...

Great, insightful answers by all! Love, love, love the new series! Keep it coming. Real pleasure getting know these authors a little, and I particularly appreciated their thoughts on what they might have changed.


Chiseled in Rock said...

Thanks, E.J. The hard part is choosing the authors. Maybe I'll put names in a hat and pick them that way.

Jemi Fraser said...

Really interesting interviews! I love the responses to #3 especially :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Jemi, coming up with great questions each month will be another challenge, but fun.