By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes
Vicki Hinze can write anything. She has several popular series from romantic suspense to military thrillers to Christian fiction and non-fiction books on the writing craft. She has published over thirty-five books in as many as sixty-three countries and won multiple awards since her writing career began in 1987. A kind and sharing lady who enjoys associating with others, Vicki Hinze is also one of the charter sponsors of International Thriller Writers and served on its Board of Directors.
We are honored today to welcome Vicki Hinze.
Vicki, you write romantic suspense, military thrillers, science fiction, Christian thrillers, and pretty much everything else. Is there any correlation between events in your life and the types of book you prefer to write at any given time?
Honestly, I write about what I’m fearing most at the time or about something that sets me off like a rocket. For example, I was midway through a three-book contract for paranormal romance novels when I went to the commissary (grocery store on a military base). Anyway, this young airman and his wife were standing in the aisle debating between buying a jar of peanut butter and a can of tuna–they couldn’t afford both. I was stunned to hear that, went home did some research and discovered the lowest four pay grades in the military were eligible for food stamps. I went postal. They put their lives on the line for us, their families sacrifice too, and they’re eligible for food stamps?
I went on a “this has to change” binge with elected reps (and it has now) and called my editor. I wanted to write military romantic suspense/thrillers that depicted the special difficulties soldiers and their families face. Like custody battles due to deployments. Military romantic suspense/thrillers hadn’t really been done, but the editor trusted me and we went for it. That gave me the opportunity to write about a lot of fears–environmental terrorism (before the phrase was coined)–fear of our water supply being poisoned, our food supply, dirty bombs. I wrote about all of those things in the mid 90s before they were totally on everyone’s radar.
It’s God’s sense of humor, when you get down to it. I hate to cook, so where do I have the most epiphanies? In grocery stores. And in a quirk I can’t explain, I marry my fears to them. That often results in a new sub-genre, or something being done differently than it has been, but I’m okay with that. It’s interesting and challenging. I gravitate toward challenges.
Your books or articles are published in over 60 countries. When publishers in countries that are very different from America contract for your books, do they ever ask you to change things to appeal to their local cultures?
Typically in these situations that’s established in contracts. That publishers can alter content so that it is consistent with the market in the distribution area. When you think about it, it’s it everyone’s best interest. Something that is ordinary and totally acceptable in one culture could be extremely offensive in another. The objective isn’t to isolate or irritate readers. Now, authors are seeing more contracts call for world rights and those contracts do retain rights on that front. Since the objective is to provide great reads, it’s a common sense thing to give the work the best possible chance for attaining its objectives.
Christian fiction is a relatively new publishing genre, if you don’t count the Book of Esther. Some people think Christian fiction is all about prayer meetings, devout pioneer women, and girls in fluffy dresses giggling over boys at youth camp, but your books include such gritty turns such as murder and human trafficking. How would you describe the Christian (faith-based) thriller genre to people who are not already familiar with it?
That’s a common misconception about the Christian fiction market and I’m not sure why it exists. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from life’s problems or insulate you from realities occurring in the world. What it does do is give you tools to cope with those challenges and an understanding that whatever you face, you don’t face it alone. Christian fiction is as diverse as human beings. You will find people struggling in relationships, struggling against bad things that happen to them, hard times, and all the rest. It’s a solutions-oriented genre, and one that embraces constructive solutions to everyday problems as well as ones we hope we never have to face.
Often what happens is out of our control. But how we react to it is in our control. Faith provides a foundation to sustain us and knowledge of faith provides us tools and constructive solutions. You’ll find the same diversity in the challenges, obstacles or conflicts that you encounter in any thriller.
You’re known through the publishing world for your original ideas, such as creating limited edition, multi-author ebook collections. In keeping with your reputation, you just launched a new web site that allows your readers to connect on a private social media site. Could you please tell us more about this?
Readers Group News Community is a community I created for my Readers. Those who get my Newsletter are eligible for the Community and everything there. I’ve gotten to know many of my readers, and they’re great people. I thought they might enjoy having a place where they can meet and get to know one another. I also didn’t want our conversations and interactions to always be all about me. I want to know more about them, too. A community where we can chat and interact seemed like the answer, so I thought we’d give it a try and see how they like it.
So far, I’d say they like it very much. There are recommendations for books that are free and on sale, virtual exercise buddies and virtual walk videos (Venice and Australia and other cool places). A place to share recipes. Contests. A place to celebrate whatever anyone is celebrating, chats–and well, all kinds of things.
Readers Group News Community is new, but the responses and feedback thus far have been great. The site has been busy, that’s for sure.
Anyone signing up for my newsletter receives an invitation to join us. People are encouraged to do as little or as much there as they like. It’s not supposed to be “another thing I have to do” for anyone. It’s supposed to be a place where you can get support if you need it, someone to cheer with you, or you can recommend a book you read and enjoyed so others can read and enjoy it, too.
My goal in creating Readers Group News Community was to give Readers a place that isn’t so overwhelming and is more intimate and focused, where you can interact and grow friendships. Readers clearly like the idea of it, so that bodes well for the community long-term.
Sounds like a brilliant way to connect with your readers and provide them with a way to connect with you and each other. We predict many authors will follow your lead, as they so often do, and reader communities will become familiar throughout the writing world.
Thank you so much for sharing your time and insights with us. It’s been an honor to have you at our site today.
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Our sincere thanks to this lovely, talented lady whose big heart and talent are legend in the writing world. Her latest release is THE MARKED BRIDE, first in the Shadow Watchers series. Would you turn to the man that you dumped at the altar and ask him to risk his life for you? When terrorists kill and threaten to kill again, do you really have any choice? You can find this and Vicki’s other bestselling books at her website, Vicki Hinze, along with inspiring posts, common sense, and resources for both writing and life.