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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Author Interview: Mary Pat Hyland!

Today I have a special guest on the blog, indie author Mary Pat Hyland, author of books for grown ups (adult books has different connotations to me, you know?) A Sudden Gift of Fate, The Cyber Miracles, 3/17, and new release The Terminal Diner. 
Let's all welcome Mary Pat!

Diving in: When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
When I was in my early twenties and working as a paste-up artist at an offset printing company. The work was dreary (dull agricultural publications and such) and my imagination started blocking out my first attempt at a novel.

What made you decide you wanted to be an indie author?
I’d sent out a ton of query letters and got form letter responses that made me wonder if anyone had truly read my letter. I believed in my novel and felt the story needed to be published. Then I met a guy who self-published through Lulu and thought the concept was great, so I did some research and published with CreateSpace at first. This year I’ve gone digital via Kindle and Smashwords.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I’ve written first drafts of three of my novels in a month’s time each. My first novel took years—about a decade. With the several months spent editing, I’d say I average a year. 

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I write every day, usually in the morning but sometimes late at night.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Sometimes before I start I need to give my brain a workout by doing a logic puzzle or Sudoku.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Ideas pop into my mind every day and I try to jot down the best ones as soon as possible or else they go *poof*! I’ve used all sorts of online resources to research story lines. A woman in “A Sudden Gift of Fate” is a Holocaust survivor, so to research her character I watched videos of Auschwitz and Birkenau survivors. That was a difficult day, to say the least.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
That first novel was written about three quarters of the way through when I was around 25.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
In my day job I’m a cook, so I enjoy trying new ingredients or cooking methods. You’ll often see scenes involving cooking in my work. I also enjoy wine, especially varieties produced in New York’s Finger Lakes region. (In “A Sudden Gift of Fate,” an Irish couple gets a winery there to manage as a wedding gift.) Love the outdoors—walking, bird watching and gardening. Music and dance are also a big part of my life.

What do your family and friends think of your writing?
I’m blessed to have been raised in a creative family—we’re all artists, musicians, poets—so they think it’s cool.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Now that I can construct a story pretty well, I guess movie plots too soon. Sigh. I pick up all the hints the screenwriter laid down while constructing the story.

I do that too! And I'll say things like "well that's Plot B all wrapped up now". I can be impossible to watch a movie with. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written five so far; four are published. I think the writing in my latest, “The Terminal Diner,” is my best to date. There are some characters in the story that I’m very proud of and adore.

Do you have any suggestions to help budding authors write a good book? If so, what are they?
The most important thing is to write every day. It doesn’t have to be a work in progress; it can be a letter, journal entry, even a well-crafted tweet. Think of yourself the way an athlete does and be dedicated to working out—using your talent—every day. The more you use your writing ability, the finer it will be toned and your work will reflect that.

That's good advice. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Yes I do, quite often. Almost all of them discuss the characters I create and how real they seem to them. I think it’s amazing how words written on a paper (or typed on a screen) can elicit strong emotions such as love or hate toward imaginary people.

That's awesome. My readers don't seem to be that vocal, at least they aren't vocal to ME. What do you think makes a good story?
A good story leads you deep into your imagination, and takes you to a place where all the stresses of the modern world can’t bother you for an hour or so. When you close a good book it should linger in your mind like perfume from a handshake or kiss.

So true. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
First I wanted to marry Paul McCartney. When that didn’t pan out, I wanted to illustrate record album covers or be a pop star.

Tell me about your newest book.
The Terminal Diner is about a family that runs a restaurant near an airport terminal in upstate New York. The mother abandons the family suddenly when a trucker from Missoula stops by and samples her lemon meringue pie. That morning she’d ironically told her daughter Elaina (the main character) that “Men like pie.”
The story opens a decade later, Elaina is 26, and all she knows to be true about men is that thing about pie. It’s Sept. 10, 2001 and some customers come into the diner who will change her life forever, especially as she tries to figure out her path in the world after the terror attacks the next day.

And finally, where can we find your books?
On my web site I have a complete listing: I’m on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords among others.

Thanks for being my guest, Mary Pat!


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