Valerie Hansen’s interview

» Posted on Apr 3, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Valerie Hansen’s interview

1. What made you start writing?
This is an interesting question since I’m not quite sure. I always loved to read, wrote very long letters to friends and sometimes occupied myself jotting short stories in a notebook when I was stuck in a boring meeting, but the real change in my attitude came after I took a college extension class called “Romance Writing” when I was about to turn 40. I thought it would be fun. It turned out to be mostly marketing – which equipped me not only to write, but to eventually sell my first book. How amazing!

2. How long have you been writing?
Now, if I told you that, you’d know how old I am and then some of you might gasp or scream or something and scare your spouse or children. For your protection, let me simply say that I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart since I was 17 and have written and sold over 35 novels. My children are grown and I have seven grandchildren, however, I feel as if I’m about 35 so that’s clearly impossible!

When did you sell your first book?
I sold my first book in the late 1980s. (Okay, you math wizards, go for it) When my son came to the school where I was then on playground duty, I had to wait till I was off work to rush home and return the editor’s call. Yes, it was before cell phones. I sure wish I’d had one then! I nearly went crazy waiting to call NY.

3. How do you handle rejections?
I’m learning to handle rejection better than I used to. When my poor husband would see a manila SASE envelope in the mail he was almost afraid to hand it to me! I’m ashamed to admit how I used to weep and wail. However, now I trust God to guide both my writing and an editor’s opinions of it so that if He wants it published, that’s how it will be. If not, I accept it and go on to something else.

4. Why do you write?
I cannot NOT write. Looking back, I see that I’ve always been that way. Now that I’m writing full-time for Love Inspired I consider my work my personal ministry and it gives me great joy. I’m happiest when I’m working, although my husband does occasionally have to remind me that I’ve been sitting at my computer too long.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Ah, now we get to the reason my husband disturbs me. I have a beautiful yard, as you’ll see if you visit my website, and I love to garden. We also live on an old farm place in rural Arkansas and I can actually hike in the forest and fish in my own ponds. Being here in the Ozarks has truly restored my soul and getting outside to marvel at the Lord’s beauty is better than any tonic.

6. What are you working on right now?
I’ve written too many books in the past year and I’m on the home stretch as far as my current contracts are concerned. I recently finished the second of 2 contemporary books for Love Inspired, led off a new series of 6 suspense books that are tied together by cross-over characters, polished my first Western Historical and began the second historical. That’s four full manuscripts and one rewrite in a year. I’M TIRED! And, as some of you may know, once we turn in a book to our editor we aren’t really done. We get that same book back to read and work on at least twice, sometimes three or four times. That means it all overlaps and can get very confusing. Of course, if you were to ask anyone who knows me, they’d tell you that’s my normal state of mind!

7. You enjoy writing several types of books–romance, historical and suspense. Why? How did you get into writing these type of books?
When I’m relaxing I often read short mystery stories and I also love trying to figure out “who done it” in films. That’s why it was natural for me to include those elements in my regular LI books and probably why I was encouraged to branch out into suspense, as well. When it comes to historical stories, I have an extensive private collection of research books dealing with the American West in the 1800s. That era has always fascinated me and it was a time I was already prepared to write about.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
DEADLY PAYOFF is a May 2007 release and deals with one of six sisters in the “Secrets of Stoneley” suspense series. It’s book five of the six-book series and deals with the sister who was the black sheep of the family. In the story, she’s reunited with the love of her life, the man her father thought was not good enough for her when he had their teenage marriage annulled. Now that she’s older and wiser, they get a second chance to find happiness while trying to solve the mystery of what actually happened to her mother many years before.
SHADOW OF TURNING is a June 2007 release and is set in the Ozarks in “Serenity”, AR, the town I’ve invented for my Arkansas books. It, too is a mystery/suspense with tornadoes and villains and all sorts of interesting characters. Although I love doing the series books involving other parts of the country, it’s always a pleasure to come home to Arkansas.

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
I have never met a successful author who is not a compulsive reader. When I began my career, I wrote instinctively. I think that was probably because I read all the time. READ, READ, READ.

10. How important is faith in your books?
My faith is as important in my books as it is in my own life. VERY! I’ve learned a lot since I became a Christian in 1972 and the more I mature and learn, the more I realize I still need to know. The same is true for my characters and I often find that I learn as much as they do!

11. What themes do you like to write about?
I always try to choose a scripture as the overall theme of each book but I often find, as I’m writing it, that the theme changes and it’s necessary to find a different scripture! I consider that to be due to God’s leading and always try to follow it. Often, my books end up involving forgiveness and acceptance no matter what other themes are also included.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
I usually say that my favorite book is the one I’m currently working of but now that I’ve done so many for Love Inspired a few do stand out. I love the quirky characters in SECOND CHANCES, THE HAMILTON HEIR, HER BROTHER’S KEEPER and OUT OF THE DEPTHS, plus the relationships with animals in those and many of the others. Overall, I’d have to say that the upcoming historical, FRONTIER COURTSHIP, April 2008, is probably going to be my all-time favorite. Then again, that’s a year away and a lot can happen between now and then! The Lord may surprise me again. It’s certainly happened often in the past.

13. You have been part of several continuities. How are they different? Are they more difficult to write?
So far I’ve participated in 4 different continuities. Each was a challenge of its own for varying reasons and each position within the series of 6 books poses different problems. I COULD NOT have succeeded if not for the other series authors – and that’s true in every case. Editors are important, of course, but it is the authors, themselves, who work out the kinks in the plots and brainstorm continually to provide the kind of continuity our readers expect and deserve. As we write, each of us has to think not only of our own book but the other 5 as well. It can be very difficult to sort out in my mind and keep straight, especially since not all of the manuscripts are due at the same time and the earlier ones may already be finished before the later ones are begun. My secret? I keep telling myself that if God hadn’t known I could do it, He wouldn’t have given me the job! I truly love what I do and I wouldn’t trade my writing career for anything. When He finally calls me home I hope I’m just typing the final words of another uplifting book – or maybe reeling in that big bass I’ve been trying to catch for the past 10 years!
Thanks to Margaret Daley for giving me the chance to “talk” to you all.
Valerie Hansen