Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Interview with L.C. HAYDEN

You write mysteries (more than one series and standalones) and all kinds of other stuff. Give us the skinny on this.

 Although mysteries are my main love, I've also written several non-mysteries. When Angles Touch You and Bell Shaped Flowers are both inspirational novelettes. Sisters in Crime asked me to edit and compile Breaking and Entering, a book about writing, which is available through the Sisters in Crime website. My grandson started kindergarten this year, so I wrote a children's book which I hope will be released in time for me to visit his classroom and read it. It's called What Am I? What Am I?

As far as mysteries are concerned, I'm the creator of the Harry Bronson mysteries, the Amiee Brant series, and what may be a standalone, Secrets of the Tunnels. I have the first chapters of my published novels--ten so far--on my website. Please feel free to check them out at http://lchayden.com/.

Do you recommend that beginning writers stick to one genre/format or do you think they should acquire experience writing in more than one genre/format? Why?

At the very beginning of their writing careers, I'd advice writers to stick to one genre/format until they have perfected their art. Working with a single genre allows the writer to focus on that area until one day that writing will sparkle. At that time, if the author wants to, he can experiment with other formats/genres. In fact, I believe that will help him expand his writing abilities.

What is the silliest “writer” question you’ve ever been asked?

I feel there's no such thing. Authors, from beginners to advanced, need to know things and the only way is to ask--no matter how silly you think the question is, it should be asked.

How important do you think setting is to a novel?

Very important. If your story takes place in New York but can as easily be changed to Chicago or Los Angeles or Dallas or Tiny Town USA, then you haven't taken advantage of your setting. The setting, if properly used, can be--and should be--a protagonist. That's just one more way to add suspense to your writing. Let the setting be as important as a character. Make it an integral part of the story.

Are you a proponent of outlining or do you write by the seat of your pants?

I write by the seat of my pants, but lately, I've been debating how wise that is. I'm going to try very hard on the next book I write to outline--even if it's a brief outline. Reason? There's so many times I get my characters--mainly Bronson--in such a deep hole that they can't seem to get out. I have no idea where to go next and often the Dreaded Writers Block follows. Also, I have to go back and foreshadow and create several incidents that will make what I wrote toward the end of the book possible. Sometimes I fail to notice to plant these incidents then I often have major rewrites. So, now that I'm ready to write my next Harry Bronson mystery, I plan to begin by outlining. So far, it's been working but it's all in my mind. I have to put it down to make it official. Let's see how it works.

How much of your personal experiences, and own personality, appear in your books? What advice can you offer new writers about this?

We can't write from a void. What we write is based on experiences and most of those are based on personal experiences. True, none of us has committed murder (I hope!), yet we write about murder. So, how does this relate to personal experiences? We base our murder scenes on what we have seen in movies, TV, or read about. We've talk to FBI agents, police officers, and other officials. They have provided material for us to use--but it's still based on the experiences we've had. We've added, deleted, and changed our work, our ideas, all based on what we know or what we have experienced.

Do you have any writing quirks?

You mean not everybody does? Mine definitely involves my writing method. Although I love my computer, I still write all my manuscripts long hand. After revisions, I type the manuscript, but as I do, I’m typing in additional revisions. Next, I print out the manuscript, and once again, using long hand, I make any additional changes. Then I go back to the computer. As before, while typing, I’m revising. Then I repeat the entire process again--several times if I have to. Weird, huh? You’d think I’d do the whole thing in the computer since that’s where it's going to end up. But oh no, not me. I've got to hand write it—and it must be in blue ink. Red is for corrections while black is to work on the budget. Give me my blue and red pens.

L.C. Hayden can be found on her websites at http://lchayden.com/ or http://www.booksbyhayden.com/


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one stupid enough to write everything down on paper first, transcribing it then to the computer and then changing in on there all over again.
    I also just recently found out how true it is that setting is character. Since I know that my writing has become so much more - to me and to others.
    I'm definitely gonna check out her first chapters online.


  2. Nahno,
    Glad you're using that setting to its maximum. I'd love to become familiar with your works too.
    L. C.

  3. Hi, L.C.,

    I also like to handwrite my first draft. And I agree that living life fully provides the best material for any kind of writing.

  4. Speaking to retired persons, I always mention that the best writers first have acquired life experience. That translates, the older you are, the more you have lived, the more material you've got.

    Also, writing is wonderfully therapeutic. Grief and anger, most strong emotions become more manageable when they are expressed, even if the writer is the only person who will ever read the material.

    Handwrite the work first, outline thoroughly, or just sit down at the keyboard and begin, all methods work. Most of us know there is no one way to write.

    Terrific interview.

  5. I tend to handwrite when I'm plotting or having difficulties.

    To each his or her own, eh?

    Thanks for visiting, L.C.

  6. Jacqueline, it's nice to know you also write your mns. long hand. Makes me feel not so old-fashioned.
    Sharon, you hit it on the head when you said writing is therapeutic. You "betcha!"
    Linda, thanks for the interview.