Its a real pleasure to have Robin. She has been instrumental in promoting and expanding the inspirational genre in not only today's market, but in the professional status of RWA and ACFW.
And she is the expert on contests. She has won over thirty-two awards which include RWA's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, Two Rita awards (she was nominated 8 times) and CBA's Christy award. She has finaled and received recognitions in sixty six other events. You can see the complete list here.
Robin has published over sixty books and has the latest in her Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series, A MATTER OF CHARACTER coming out later this month.
Please join me in welcoming Robin Lee Hatcher.
Once I realized that God was calling me to write fiction for the Christian market, the transition itself was both easy and difficult. Easy because the door opened quickly with a CBA publisher. Difficult because I was starting over. While I had many Christian readers who enjoyed my general market historical romances because they were "sweet" rather than "sexy," for the most part, I was unknown in the CBA market, both to booksellers and to readers. It takes time to build a readership.
2. The CBA market has grown tremendously. As an award winning author, you were definitely a positive impact on this market with your powerful writing. (Robin was presented with the 2001 Lifetime Achievement Award from RWA) Can you give us some insight into how and why this market is growing? How it has changed?
I remember well what it was like to go into a Christian bookstore in the 1970's and 1980's, and the fiction section was just three or four feet wide with the books face out. A dozen or fewer titles (many of them reprints of older releases) by a handful of authors. When I began writing my first novel in 1981, Christian fiction wasn't a viable market in my mind because I wasn't reading the books that were offered. There were a number of authors who began opening the doors for Christian fiction in the late 1980's and early 1990's. One of those authors was Francine Rivers. During the 1990's, the CBA fiction market changed dramatically, from being almost all "prairie fiction" to offering a wide variety of genres -- suspense, historical, biblical, romance, literary, women's fiction, speculative, etc. Whatever your reading preference, you can probably find a book for you in the CBA today.
Another reason the market has grown and changed is that readers today recognize the power of story. There is a reason Jesus taught with parables. Because story has the ability to teach us and touch our hearts in ways that non-fiction can't.
3. When you talked to our ACFW group while in Scottsdale, you explained how the journey has not always been easy. Just because you are published doesn't guarantee you'll always have creative ideas flowing out of your head nor does it guarantee contracts. I particularly felt encouraged by your story of your experience writing THE SHEPHERD'S VOICE which won the RITA award from RWA. Would you mind sharing with all of us?
During the writing of THE SHEPHERD'S VOICE, I suffered a terrible case of burn out. Every word of that book was torn out of me by sheer force of will. I never felt connected to the characters, and when I turned the book in (several months late, as I recall), I truly believed it was the worst book ever written. The manuscript had only minor revisions which frightened me. I was so sure the editor had failed to see just how bad the book was. Much to my surprise, the book went on to win the 2001 RITA Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the Booksellers Best Award, and the Excellence in Media Award.
The lesson I learned from this experience is that we cannot always trust our feelings about our writing. As long as I was faithful to show up and do the work, God was faithful to see to the end results.
4. You have a new book coming out next month. A MATTER OF CHARACTER is the last book in the Sisters Bethlehem Springs series. Can you tell us about what inspired you to write this series and why you went from contemporary to historical?
The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series was born out of the question, Who says a woman can't do a man's job? Each of the heroines in the series has a job that wasn't thought to be "woman's work" at the time. In the first book (A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE), Gwen runs for mayor. In the second book (FIT TO BE TIED), Cleo is a horse wrangler on her dad's cattle ranch. And now in A MATTER OF CHARACTER, Daphne writes dime adventure novels under a male pseudonym. I've had a lot of fun with each of these women and the men who come to love them.
Why did I go from contemporary to historical? Well, in the ABA, historical romance was all I wrote for 15 years (27 of them). When I moved to the CBA, the story God gave me (THE FORGIVING HOUR) was contemporary women's fiction. I found a whole new voice and style in that genre. But I never entirely gave up writing historical romance. I released a number of historical romances while continuing to write contemporary women's fiction as well. But the day came when I felt it would be good for me to choose one or the other, at least for a time. My publisher left the choice up to me, and I chose historical romance. It's my "first love."
Thanks so much Robin for joining us.
My neighbor just brought a huge bag of lemons off his tree so I've whipped up my favorite---lemon meringue pies. Now if you're like me, you love a piece of pie in the morning with that first cup of coffee. But there are enough pies to last until this evening if you like your dessert later in the day.
Lots of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, iced tea (we make sun tea here in the desert) and sparkling water.
Help yourselves and please join Robin and I today. If you have questions for Robin, be sure and post them as she'll be here to answer.
You'll also be eligible for a drawing of her new release A MATTER OF CHARACTER. Robin is giving away a copy and I will be doing so also. Two chances to win.
The drawing will be at noon Arizona time (which is the same as Pacific Daylight time in the summer because we don't go on daylight savings.)
Thanks again Robin.