Today I’m honored to present Bonnie Hearn Hill and Christopher Allan Poe, fellow authors from the brand new e-book 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back. Bonnie and Christopher are stopping by as part of the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog Tour. If you enjoy magazine columns and Chicken Soup for the Soul books, then we’re sure you’ll enjoy our collection of essays, designed to warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life. Get a full listing of authors, essay titles and retailers here: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/25-years-in-the-rearview-mirror-52-authors-look-back
Bonnie and Christopher are going to talk about one of my favorite genres – Thrillers. First, let’s meet the authors behind the words:
Bonnie Hearn Hill is the author of six thrillers for MIRA Books, four young adult novels, and numerous nonfiction and coauthored titles. A former newspaper editor, she leads online and real time workshops. She is a community correspondent with a monthly segment on KMPH TV’s “Great Day,” Central California’s highest rated morning television show.
Christopher Allan Poe is an author and touring musician based in Los Angeles. He writes paranormal fiction, with an emphasis on social issues involving women and children. A member of International Thriller Writers, he has been accepted into the ITW Debut Author Program for his paranormal thriller, THE PORTAL. He and Bonnie speak at writing conferences throughout the country.
Bonnie Hearn Hill and Christopher Allan Poe arrived at their thriller-writing careers by way of different paths, Bonnie as a newspaper editor who secretly wrote novels at night, Christopher as a touring musician and descendent of that other Poe. They are the co-authors of Digital Ink: Writing Killer Fiction in the e-Book Age.
Connect with Bonnie in Christopher in the following places:
https://twitter.com/bonniehearnhill or @BonnieHearnHill
https://twitter.com/CAllanPoe or @CAllanPoe
Now on to our chat:
Why did you choose the thriller genre?
Bonnie: I wrote a novel (Intern) about a Sacramento, California, political intern who disappears. My goal was to examine the price of lies and denial once a situation becomes a national news story. It was published as a political thriller, and my agent negotiated a contract for five more. Yikes. Once I began reading the genre, I was in awe of the talent and craft. I fell in love.
Christopher: If anything, the genre selected me. With a name like Poe, you don’t have much of a choice. Paranormal thriller, horror, or science fiction. Pick your poison and drink it down. Crazy thing was, I’d always been drawn to those genres anyway. Was it genetic? The kids in elementary school seemed to think so. They would tease me endlessly, calling me Edgar. For many years I hid from the name, but as an adult, I realized that they were right all along. They knew way before I did that I was supposed to be a paranormal thriller writer.
How do you define a thriller?
Bonnie: Some say that a mystery is a riddle, and the thriller is about the struggle. That’s OK, but I think it’s too limiting. Many mysteries are about the struggle, and many thrillers involve a riddle and an unknown bad guy. I think it comes down to scope and stakes. How big a story is this? How much is at risk?
Christopher: For me, a true thriller doesn’t begin until there’s a compelling character. All the thrills and chills in the world won’t make the reader care about a dull protagonist. One of Bonnie’s best characters is a hearing impaired reporter, Geri LaRue, from the novel Cutline. She’s not completely deaf, so she doesn’t belong in the world of the hearing or the deaf. Everyone can relate to her story on some level of not belonging, and I think that’s what gives the book such a thrilling edge. The reader cares whether she lives or dies. No need for a spoiler alert. I’ll shut my mouth there.
How do you plot your thrillers?
Christopher: I usually start with my protagonist and a life-altering problem that presents itself in the first chapter. After that, I write a sheet of twenty things that might happen during the course of the story. Then I stay out of my character’s way and let her do her thing. By the time I’m finished, usually none of the original twenty plot points is in the book, but it was a good tool to get started.
Bonnie: Character is plot. I spend almost all of my planning time working on the characters. Trying to dream up a fresh plot for a thriller has taken us to some crazy places. Chris’s novel, The Portal, has a mother on the run trying to save her son from his father, who is not quite human. Is that a fair description of him, Chris?
Christopher: I could probably think up some bleep-worthy descriptions to throw in there as well. Bonnie’s absolutely right though. If I take the time to properly develop my characters, my plot will take care of itself.
Why do you think thrillers are so popular?
Bonnie: For one reason, there are so many different ways you can go with them. You might have a romantic thriller, a paranormal thriller, as Chris writes. Also—and this brings us back to what we were talking about in regard to plot—so many of them have well developed protagonists. Think of The Hunger Games. Katniss is no James Bond. She is a real person who has put herself in a terrible situation in order to save her sister. We root for her, and we care.
Christopher: I absolutely agree. For marketing purposes, some people want to put The Hunger Games in the YA category or even Silence of the Lambs in the horror category, but they’re actually well-written thrillers. The diversity of the genre, I think, is what really appeals to such a wide audience.
How has the digital age changed the type of thrillers that are being written?
Bonnie: If anything, the digital age has forced all authors to re-focus on craft. With so much virtual material on Kindle and Nook, readers aren’t as patient to wait for a novel to get to the point.
Christopher: In the music business, we have a saying: Don’t bore us, get to the chorus. In order to compete today, we authors need to get to that chorus to hook the modern reader.
Who are some of your favorite thriller writers?
Bonnie: Christopher Allan Poe, and that famous great-great uncle of his.
Christopher: Bonnie Hearn Hill, every time.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten the love fest out of the way, we’re fans of all great writing. In the thriller genre, Stephen King, Thomas Harris, Suzanne Collins, Gayle Lynds, M.J. Rose, John Lescroart and William Gibson are among our favorites.
Thank you, Bonnie and Christopher, for sharing your thoughts with us today!
And let’s not forget why we’re all gathered together. Author Stacy Juba’s project, 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back:
This collection of poignant and uplifting essays is the perfect book to enjoy over your morning coffee. The stories will warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life. As a tie-in to her mystery book Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, novelist and award-winning journalist Stacy Juba invited her author colleagues to answer the question ”What were you doing 25 years ago?” Read about school days, quirky jobs, romance, raising a family, hard times, the writing journey, and find out what makes your favorite characters tick. This 30,000-word book will help readers to discover new authors for their to-read list, and inspire them to reflect upon the small defining moments that have shaped their own lives. As a bonus, readers are invited to interact with the authors and discuss the past and the future in an online forum, with details in the Appendix.
Includes a foreword by Elaine Raco Chase, award-winning author of seventeen paperback novels with over 3 million books in print. Publishing credits of the contributing writers include New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling and Amazon bestselling. They also include recipients of the Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award, Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, Mississippi Author Award, Benjamin Franklin Award and Eppie Award, as well as nominees of the Pushcart Prize, Agatha and Shamus Awards, to name a few of the many honors.
The following sections are included in the book: School Days: Literary Friends by Stacy Juba, The Red Man by Maria Savva, Rocking in the ’80s by Susan Helene Gottfried, Seniors are Wimps by Matthew Dicks, Prom Night by A.W. Hartoin, Friend in Need by Alina Adams, A Life-Changing Decision by CJ Lyons, Oldest Campus Editor Looks Back by Sharon Love Cook.
The Jobs That Shape Us: Lieutenant Pink Shoes by Laura DiSilverio, Training the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers by Gwen Mayo, The Biggest Job Shift Ever by Ann Littlewood, Long Live Rock by Loni Emmert, The Cost of Doing Business by Stephen D. Rogers, Life as a Singing Telegram by Monica M. Brinkman, The Pipe Bomb by Kenneth Weene, School for Sleuths byCarole Shmurak, Driven Bats by Sarah E. Glenn, Can One Beer Change Your Life? by Mike Bove.
Remembering the Romance: A Special Anniversary by Steve Liskow, California Magic by Mike Angley, Drummer and Dumber by Cara Lopez Lee, Paving the Road to Conscious Living byLillian Brummet.
The Ups and Downs of Family Life: The Elephant in the Living Room by Mary Anna Evans, Baby Steps by Tracy Krauss, Finding the Right Balance by Barbara Ross, Climbing the Mountain of Single Parenthood by J. R. Lindermuth, The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same by Donna Fletcher Crow, A Busy Mom’s Dream by Deanna Jewel, Family Fun at the Dinner Table by Maryann Miller.
Hard Times: Finding the Right Direction by Michele Drier, The Scent of Lives Changed Forever by Beth Kanell, Surviving the Killer Tsunami by Cherish D’Angelo (Cheryl Kaye Tardif), Christa’s Legacy by Jaleta Clegg, Weathering the Storm by Red Tash.
The Writing Journey: Unit-Lessons in Composition by Stacy Juba, Traveling Down the Writing Path by Patricia Gulley, Sticking With It by J.E. Seymour, Detecting the Humor by Marja McGraw, Never Give Up by Karen McCullough, An Early Computer by Velda Brotherton, Choosing My Destiny by Peggy Ehrhart, The Tuesdays by Bonnie Hearn Hill, Cropdusting the Way to a Series by R.P. Dahlke.
Characters Have Pasts, Too: Diana’s Promise by Stacy Juba, The Sandbox by Darcia Helle, An Empty Nest by Suzanne Young, Misfortune’s Daughter by Mary Deal, The White Widow byNorma Huss, The Policeman by Vicki Delany, Miranda’s History by Leslie Wheeler, Meeting Sam Fullerton by Ellis Vidler, The Gas Chamber by Douglas Corleone, Storm Shadow Eyes by Caitlyn Hunter.
Further Back in Time: A Long Look Back by Norma Huss, The Ghost of Mr. Stetson by Darcia Helle, Finding My Voice by Stacy Juba.
Follow the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog and Radio Tour schedule here and enter for some neat My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/25-years-in-the-rearview-mirror-blog-tour
And don’t miss the chance to join the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Yahoo Group, a fun and inspirational group that discusses the past and will help you to stay on track for the future. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/25YearsRearviewMirror
Thanks for reading.
Tags: 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror, Author Essays, author interviews, Bonnie Hearn Hill, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Christopher Allan Poe, Digial Ink: Writing Killer Fiction in the e-Book Age, Essay Collections, Great Thrillers, Humorous Essays, Inspiring Essays, MIRA books, Recommended Reads, Recommended Thrillers, Stacy Juba, Thriller Authors, Writing Thrillers