Author of 87 books, including the new I’ll Be Seeing You
I’ve interviewed so many authors in my short time with this blog. They all have different personalities, quirks, and writing processes. My favorite part about doing these interviews is getting to know these authors beyond their websites and books, really digging into what makes them tick.
When Robin Lee Hatcher agreed to the interview, I was very pleasantly surprised! She is a prolific author who has penned nearly 90 novels, and shows no signs of slowing down! That volume of creative work always blows my mind, as I struggle primarily with plot. I always wonder how writers such as Robin Lee Hatcher come up with so many intricate, emotional, and compelling plots.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have enjoyed creating it. Robin Lee Hatcher is an open book when it comes to her experiences with publishing, interacting with her readers, handling rejection, and all things writing-related! Sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and take a few minutes to learn from an author who has written more books than most of us ever will! I’m sure we can all learn a thing or two from Robin Lee Hatcher.
L.A. Can you introduce yourself to my subscribers, tell them a little about yourself, where you’re from, how long you’ve been writing?
R.L.H. I’m an Idaho native, and I love the state, from the forests of the panhandle that borders Canada to the wilderness area of central Idaho to the high desert country in the south. I live just outside of Boise. I’m a mom to two daughters and a grandmother to six. I wrote my first novel in 1981 (it was published in 1984), and I’m currently working on what will be my 88th release.
L.A. Did you have a career before writing? If so, what was it, and at what point did you transition over to writing full-time?
R.L.H. I wrote my first nine novels while working a full-time job as an office
administrator. In 1990, I told my agent, if she could get me an advance equal to my annual salary, that I would quit my job and try to write full-time. My advances up to then had been so small that I didn’t think she could do it. But she did. So in January 1991, the month my 9th novel released, I quit to write full-time. I’ve been at it ever since.
L.A. When did you first realize you might be a writer?
R.L.H. I was born a storyteller, and I was a voracious reader from the time I was a young girl. I was what I call a compulsive writer. I kept diaries and wrote bad lovesick poetry and scribbled little stories. But I didn’t really think about being a writer until I was in my late twenties.
L.A. How old were you when you wrote the first book?
R.L.H. I was in my late twenties when I began writing my first novel.
L.A. Can you talk a little about your writing process? (Do you write at the same time each day? Where do you do your writing? How long does it take you to complete a book?)
R.L.H. I have an office in my home where I do the majority of my writing, although sometimes I take my laptop into the living room to write in my recliner. I write Monday through Friday and the occasional Saturday (depending upon deadlines). Morning is my optimal writing time. Afternoons are often for editing and other parts of the business of writing. I write two to three books a year.
L.A. Do you write with music, or do you need it quiet while you work?
R.L.H. I used to write to music, but over the past few years I have drifted away from that and usually write in silence. I don’t know why that change happened. When I do write to music, it is almost always movie soundtracks (no lyrics).
“If I know the story in detail, I no longer want to write it because there are no more surprises for me.”~Robin Lee Hatcher
L.A. Do you outline your stories before you begin writing them?
R.L.H. I am a seat-of-the-pants writer. For me, the joy of writing comes from discovering what will happen each day. If I know the story in detail, I no longer want to write it because there are no more surprises for me. I like the discovery. I use a “rolling plot” journal. I roll out the plot a little at a time. It works like the headlights on a car at night. Those lights lets the driver see just far enough ahead to keep them on the road until they reach their destination.
L.A. Can you tell us about your experience getting a novel published for the first time?
R.L.H. Please remember that publishing was very different back when I got started (before the Internet, before email, before the consolidation of many publishing houses, certainly before Amazon, eBooks, and indie publishing). After I finished writing my novel, I got a copy of The Writer’s Market, and I sentquery letters and sample chapters to 21 different publishing houses. Most went ignored but I did receive a few requests for the full manuscript. One of those made me an offer. I signed a contract with them in the spring of 1982 and very soon after they went bankrupt, although I didn’t know it for a couple of months. By that time I’d finished the sequel to my first novel. In early 1983, I sold both of those books to a small New York publisher, and they were published in early 1984.
I negotiated my first seven contracts myself. Then I met an agent at a conference, and she represented me for my next three book contracts. However, she quit as an agent soon after. I went on to connect with the woman who has been my agent since 1989. We connected through a chapter of Romance Writers of America, and it has been an amazing journey for those 33+ years. When I got the letter that my novels had sold, I burst into tears. While I don’t cry anymore, I feel the same joy every time I see a new book in print.
L.A. What is it like connecting personally with fans on social media and in person? How does that touch your life as a woman and a writer?
R.L.H. It is absolutely the best. I doubt most readers understand how much a line or two from them means to writers. Most authors—whether they’ve written one book or a hundred—are filled with periods of doubt. So often a letter or email arrives at just the right moment to give me encouragement. And when a reader shares the way a book touched their heart or changed something in their life … It is amazing.
L.A. How do you handle negative reviews and general criticism of your writing?
R.L.H. Writing is a business of rejection. We get rejected by publishers, by agents, and by readers—even the multi-published experience it. I know that I cannot please every reader. The book that gets a 5-star review from one reader who calls it the best, can get a 1-star from another reader who found it slow or sophomoric or whatever. So I try to not to take either praise or criticism to heart. Hold them lightly. Don’t get puffed up, don’t get a fat head from the praise. Don’t get depressed or lose heart from the criticism. Some writers find it best not to read reviews. I read mine, hoping to learn from them. I try to ignore those reviewers who are just being mean, and there are a few of those.
“Every book is written one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one scene, and one chapter at a time.”~Robin Lee Hatcher
L.A. What advice would you give to someone who has writing ability, but is stuck in fear and can’t go the distance with a full-length manuscript?
R.L.H. First, don’t think so much about the full manuscript. Remember this sage advice: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. If you write one page per day, you’ll have a 365-page novel at the end of one year. Every book is written one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one scene, and one chapter at a time.
Don’t be afraid to write garbage first. Bad writing can be fixed. Words you haven’t written can’t.
L.A. What is the one thing that surprised you regarding becoming a published novelist?
R.L.H. Oh my goodness. That is too many years ago to remember. One thing that surprised me is that writing doesn’t get easier.
L.A. Who are your favorite authors? (This can include who inspired you in the early days, all the way up to what you’re currently reading).
R.L.H. I have so many favorite authors, and they are favorites for different reasons. The one author that impacted my writing and career the most is Francine Rivers and her novel, Redeeming Love. When I finished reading it in November 1991, my heart ached to be able to write a story with that much power to touch lives for good.
L.A. What are you currently working on?
R.L.H. I am currently writing a sequel to Even Forever, the second book in the Boulder Creek Romance series. After that, I’ll start writing a new series set in the Yellowstone area (late 1800s). My latest release is I’ll Be Seeing You, a dual-time novel (contemporary and WWII). Here’s the blurb:
Generations of secrets unfold as a young college student learns the truth
about her great-grandmother’s World War II heartbreak and love.
Brianna Hastings’s life seems dull and full of disappointment until a
handsome young man visits her church. She’s instantly smitten by the
charming Greg, who leads an exciting, independent life—the kind of life she
longs for. But when a college history assignment forces Brianna to interview
her great-grandmother about life during World War II, she can’t believe it
when Daisy presses her with questions about Greg’s character. “What sort
of man is he? Who is he at his core?”
What could her great-grandmother possibly know about love at first sight?
The questions take both women back to Boise, Idaho, in the early 1940s,
when war emphasized how fragile life could be. Daisy and her older sister
pine for the same handsome bomber pilot—until one night of terrible
judgment reveals their true characters and drives them apart. Trying to
protect the people she loves the most, Daisy condemns herself to live a lie.
In the years that follow, as Daisy grapples with the consequences, she
receives unexpected grace from a man she’s known her whole life but
never looked at twice. Could what she learned about love save Brianna
from heartache three generations later?
Coming in November 2022 is Like the Wind, a contemporary romance.
I want to extend a huge thank you, but also tip my hat to Robin Lee Hatcher for being so graciously patient while I finished this interview. Her body of work is impressive, to say the least. Nearly 90 books, really? Most of us struggle to come up with one decent plot!