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Friday, June 02, 2006

Interview with Sharon Hinck -- aka Becky Miller!

Thank you to everyone for your patience in the delay getting this interview posted. I know it's part of a blog tour, and I don't want to be the cause of making anyone late for the next stop on the tour. *g* So, without further ado, it's my pleasure to give you insight into The Secret Life of Becky Miller!

Don't forget to comment on the interview for your chance at a FREE copy of Sharon's debut novel.

1. You have entered into the grand world of publishing with a big splash! Kudos of your book, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, are being heralded in a wide variety of places. What made you decide on mom-lit?

Mom-lit is fun, contemporary fiction with a heroine who is juggling the pressures of parenting and her other roles. They say "write what you know" and that's something I understand deeply. I also love that mom-lit has a humorous edge, but is still grounded in the authentic issues of feeling overwhelmed, undervalued, and confused about purpose. I've read a lot of general market mom-lit, and wasn’t seeing many mom-lit novels in the CBA yet (although some great ones have released since the time I wrote my book) and I felt it was a niche that needed filling.

2. How much of your book is based upon real-life experiences and how much are you using real-life as a springboard for the experiences you depict in your novel? What other inspirations influenced this book?

Becky has a life of her own, but I have great empathy for her struggles. Her character was definitely formed from the life experiences of the other moms in my small group Bible study, and my own. Her dream of doing "Something Big for God' is certainly drawn from my own past, warped understanding of what it means to serve God. Her drive to do it all, and do it all perfectly is also a neurosis I share with her—as do many of my friends. I've had readers tell me that after reading about Becky's life, they thought I must have had a hidden camera in their home. That's what I love about Becky. She's universally relatable. We've all been there.

3. The Secret Life of Becky Miller is a charming and witty look into the life of a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM as it's also known). What was your favorite part to write? Your most difficult?

I loved writing the vivid daydreams at the beginning of each chapter. It's a glimpse into the subconscious way Becky feels about her life — and let's face it — writing film noir detective scenes, pirates, ninjas, Alaska sled-dog races, and secret agents saving the world is a whole lot of fun. *g* The hardest part for me was letting Becky suffer. I grew to love her so much that I had a tough time letting other characters be mean to her, leaving her problems unresolved for longer than a chapter, and pulling the props out from under her as the story progressed.

4. What themes exist in The Secret Life of Becky Miller that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Central theme – it's not about our efforts to do Something Big for God. But God can do amazing things in the small choices of our ordinary lives.

New insights that I gleaned while observing Becky's journey – sometimes our efforts to solve problems can get in the WAY of the blessings God is trying to send. AND (I hate this lesson, but it's SO true) God can often do more through our weaknesses than our strengths.

5. You have served in a variety of positions within the church and have also worked a lot with youth or children. How much has this experience helped you with establishing your voice for your fiction novels and will we see any specifics from those experiences appear in your future stories?

In my sequel, RENOVATING BECKY, I touch lightly on some of the challenges that the emergent church is facing. As a sometimes church worker and frequent volunteer, I've been troubled to see the church move toward a "corporate" model of operation at times. There aren't easy right and wrong parameters – just questions to raise. Becky asks some of those questions in her second book.

6. Describe your writing space and schedule. How many words per day do you write and do you have a minimum goal you hope to reach before you push away your keyboard?

I am blessed (now that my eldest is grown and out of the house and I could take over one of the bedrooms) with a genuine office – and a window looking out at a pond behind our house. I'm SO spoiled. Yet because being in the house means phone-calls, emails to answer, and laundry calling my name, I actually try to write in other locations at least a few times a week. Our local library has great private study rooms. I shut myself in there with my laptop. Now that the weather is nice, I treat myself to a hike on a local nature trail, and write under a tree. Or I go to a coffee shop and get a big cup of tea and sit and right with innocuous chatter swirling around me. I aim for 1000 publishable words per day, five days a week (with time off for book launches, conferences, and key family events). That's rather modest compared to many of my friends, but I'm learning not to compare my puny efforts to others. *g* I generally spend the morning writing and the afternoon editing, doing p.r. Work, answering emails, and all the other "stuff" of being a writer.

7. Are you a SOTP (seat-of-the-pants) writer or a plotter? Or do you possess a blend of both?

I LOVE being a SOTP writer. I have an arc in my mind, but no detailed outline. However, I'll generally stop occasionally and plan out the next several chapters ahead. I MUCH prefer selling a manuscript that's finished. It drives me crazy to submit a synopsis, when the story might demand to go a different direction once it's written. I admire detailed outliners – it just spoils the fun of discovery for me and I begin to feel like I'm doing a school assignment if I have each scene planned out in advance.

8. How important do you believe it is for a new writer or even an established one to join a writing group such as ACFW?

VITAL! I wouldn't have written my first novel if not for the encouragement of my local writer's group. I wouldn't have known how to navigate the crazy world of publishing if not for Minnesota Christian Writer's Guild, ACFW, Writer's View, and conferences such at Mount Hermon. I wouldn't have survived this journey without the wisdom, prayers, and support of dear writers farther along the road.

9. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

March 2007, RENOVATING BECKY by Bethany House. Becky and Kevin decide to pursue a simpler life and buy a run-down farmhouse to remodel. Ha! Becky's mother-in-law has health problems and moves in with them. Becky's part-time job at a church threatens to consume her. And Becky reverts to trying to fix everything in her own power. She's no longer obsessed with doing Big Things for God, but she still shoulders some burdens that aren't hers to carry – especially in the realm of people-pleasing.

10. Anything else you wish to share?

As a new author, having a publishing house take a chance on my writing is a tremendous privilege and a responsibility I take very seriously. There are BRILLIANT writers who deserve this chance much more than I do. I deeply appreciate prayer that this story will find its way to readers who need a reminder of God'’s grace in this high-pressure, driven culture. I also appreciate prayer for my sanity. (I'm only half-joking! This writing life is very overwhelming sometimes!) If you'd like a free monthly e-zine with a devotional thought, behind-the-scenes news about the writing life, updates, and prayer requests, please visit my website at and go to the "contact Sharon" page and sign up as a Book Buddy. Your partnership through prayer is hugely appreciated.

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today! I'll stop back later to answer any questions anyone may have for me.


Southern-fried Fiction said...

Super interview - phenomenal book!!

Donita K. Paul said...

I can not wait to read this book. I met Sharon at a writers' conference and was impressed with her gently spirit and quick wit. I've got to see this on paper!

Anonymous said...

thanks, sharon and tiff. hope to see you both in dallas. rose mccauley

Sharon Hinck said...

Ane, you continue to be the best encourager EVER.

Donita, I think at that Mount Hermon conference the "gentle spirit" was pure exhaustion, and I refuse to believe I had ANY wits, much less quick ones. LOL! But I LOVED meeting you, too.

Rose, thanks for stopping by!

Big hugs, Sharon

Sonya said...

Wow! I loved the part where you talked about 'Something Big for God' coming from a warped understanding of what it means to serve God.

I know exactly what you mean.

I too often try to solve my own problems and get in the way.

Based on this interview, your book sounds quite interesting and one that will appeal to a lot of 'do it yourself' Moms!

Sheryl said...

Great interview and I can't wait to read the book. I'm not a mom, but I can certainly relate to the "secret life" stuff :-)

I think most writers go around with their mind in "imaginary worlds" at least part of the time.

Thank you Sharon & Tiff!

Sheryl Root

Sharon Hinck said...

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Shellie - it's light enough to be a good summer read...but hopefully with a bit of substance to stay with you after you leave the beach. :-)

Magnolia - I think we all get twisted up in those false understandings of serving God. Thanks for your perceptive comment.

Marta - thanks for rooting for me all this time :-) Some of the grandmas reading the book like it BETTER than young moms, because they can look back and laugh (instead of feeling a bit too close to the chaos).

Hi, Sheryl! YES YES YES...those imaginary worlds. Aren't they marvelous?

Thank you again, Tiff, for letting me visit and meet some wonderful new people. Time to don my red cape and fly off to the next stop. :-)

Hugs to all, Sharon