. . .in her debut novel The Secret Life of Becky Miller. Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book. The drawing will be on July 15.
Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
There are seeds of myself in each character. I take tendencies that I’ve seen in myself and exaggerate them—stretch those traits in various directions like Silly Putty. However, I also feel very separate from my characters. None of them are truly me. I want my characters to have their own identity and reality. To help me give them their individuality, I often give them physical characteristics, habits, or preferences that are far from my own.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
That is a long list, and it’s hard to quantify the quirkiest. On my website (www.sharonhinck.com) I list some of the strangest facts on my author bio page – under the heading “The Secret Life of Sharon Hinck.” One of my favorite goofy stories to tell on myself is about choreographing an outdoor production of West Side Story, where the police barreled into our rehearsal because a neighbor had called to warn them of a gang fight going on outside the theatre. I also once created a tap dance to the Carl Sandburg poem, “Lines Written for Gene Kelly to Dance To.” In high school I designed a science experiment on the dimultiplication of circadian biorhythms, where I recruited friends to stay awake for 32 hours straight, and then sleep for 16 hours straight. We lived that way for a month, testing our blood pressure, heart-rate, temperature, etc.
I'm glad I wasn't your friend in high school. That might have been hard to do. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Fourth grade. I was home from school with a high fever, and have a vivid memory of hunt & pecking a story about a horse on my little manual typewriter, using carbon paper to make an extra copy. It wasn’t until grad school that I discovered I was a writer who could be paid for her stories, thanks to my dear writing prof, John Lawing.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
This ties in with the question on my quirkiness. I have a proud collection of Grace Livingston Hill books, with Star Trek novels on the shelf beneath. I think of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf and Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee as old, dear friends, along with many other classics. I enjoy a variety of CBA authors, and also read lots of general market fiction—from mom-lit, to mysteries, to literary fiction, to fantasy and suspense. Recently I’ve enjoyed the creative and unusual works The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, The Eyre Affair and sequels by Jasper Fforde. Honestly, my To Be Read pile looks like a shelf with multiple-personality disorder.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
The Secret Life of Becky Miller is my debut novel, but the fifth manuscript I wrote. I wrote a fantasy series and a historical stand-alone before that are still waiting for homes. I’ve also completed Renovating Becky Miller, a sequel due out next spring, and In the Key of Mom – a stand alone mom-lit about an orchestral flutist who is a single mom raising a teen daughter. I’m currently developing a fourth stand-alone novel for Bethany House.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I don’t. That’s why I’m a novelist. It’s part of the job description to be neurotic.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I confess that since I write mom-lit and want common, contemporary names, I use the names of my church’s life-group members or their children, particularly if I know several people with that name.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Each day that I’m able to lift up praise from a broken heart or give encouragement to another when I’d rather whine. Each time I’m able to share God’s unselfish kind of love with my husband, children, or friends.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A tiny bird with plain, dull feathers . . . frail-boned and common . . . fluttering in the shrubs. Yet with a sweet song.
What is your favorite food?
Mashed potatoes and gravy.
Thanks, Lena! These were fun questions!
And I thank you Sharon for sharing some of your life with us. Be sure to pick up The Secret Life of Becky Miller. You'll be glad you did.