Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hannah Alexander

I have read Hannah Alexander books for years and loved them. Just this last year, another online friend introduced me to Cheryl Hodde. Thanks, Barbara Warren. Cheryl and her husband Mel make up the writing team known as Hannah Alexander.

Cheryl, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

There is a part of me in every main character, but not a huge part. I can identify better with some characters than with others. We are all such an intricate combination of so many different thoughts, emotions and experiences that it’s impossible to recreate yourself on paper. I just keep trying.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

That depends on who’s reading this. Some might think it’s quirky to enact a scene-in-progress so I can get the movements down on paper better—we now have to do this with the shades closed. Someone might have called the police on us the night Mel tried to teach me CPR with the curtains open.

Some might think it’s quirky to go hiking in the rain and wade down the center of the creek.
Some might think it’s quirky to stalk a stranger who just happens to look just like a character in the book we’re working on.

Some might think it’s quirky to pray for one of our characters.
Some might think it’s quirky to run my panty-hose up the flagpole in high school. (It was the seventies, and I thought I was a good rebel, protesting because they weren’t flying the flag.)

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

When I started making up stories before I knew how to write them. I really knew I had arrived when my mother started to believe them.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I love mystery, chick lit, historicals and fantasy—anything with a happy ending. Anything that is well written. It seems, though, that the more I learn about writing, the harder it is to just relax and enjoy reading.

I know what you mean. It's hard to turn off that internal editor, isn't it? What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Pretty much everything I’ve ever written has been published. The list is:
Ozark Sunrise
The Healing Promise
A Living Soul
Sacred Trust (Out of print)
Solemn Oath (Out of print)
Silent Pledge (Out of print)
Second Opinion
Necessary Measures
Urgent Care (Out of print)
Safe Haven
Last Resort
Note of Peril (Out of print)
Fair Warning
Under Suspicion (Out of print)
Grave Risk
Death Benefits
Double Blind (Early 2008)
Hideaway Home (Sometime in 2008
Hidden Motive (Sometime in 2008)

I've read many of these, and they're wonderful. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I don’t run with them if I can keep from it. I hike as often as I can, and will drag Mel along when I can get him out there. We don’t have cable television. We actually don’t watch regular television at all, but we do have DVDs of old series shows we like to watch, and we watch when we are in the mood, not when some television station decides we should. I try to read my Bible and spend some peaceful time before the day begins, and I’m learning to say NO more often.

Learning to say NO is good advice for most of us. How do you choose your characters’ names?

I walk through cemeteries and write down the names that appeal to me. I have lists of first names and last names on my bulletin board. I also have numerous “name that baby” books that I love to peruse. This is a fun time for me.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Hiking the Grand Canyon several times, and actually living to tell about it, because I got sick every time.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

I would probably be a donkey. This isn’t by choice, but I do tend to be stubborn, and I sometimes bray when I laugh. Yep, a donkey.

What is your favorite food?

Which day are we talking about? I love chocolate. I also love sea scallops and crab legs and beef jerky and chocolate and pasta and a good, multi-vegetable salad with bleu cheese crumbles…and chocolate. Did I mention chocolate? The darker the better.

Chocolate must be a brain food for writers. So many of them love it. Me, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I am my own worst roadblock. The first draft of a project—sitting down and getting the first draft on paper—er, uh, computer—is the hardest part for me. I keep going back to rewrite. I can’t reread what I’ve written without rewriting, and that is what takes most of the time. I make it much harder than it has to be.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

I always tell a new writer to keep her/his day job. Don’t expect to earn enough as a writer to make a living, especially in the first few years. Even if you do find it’s possible to do so, there is always the pressure of deadlines, which keeps you from exploring more deeply into your work in progress. Time constraints are the biggest hurdle for us. A good story is more important, in the long run, than a good advance.

I often start writing workshops I teach with the same advice: Don't quit your day job.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Death Benefits is the last of our Love Inspired Suspense titles, which actually spins off Fair Warning, which came out last year. One does not need to read Fair Warning, however, to enjoy Death Benefits. Set on the island of Kauai in Hawaii, Death Benefits is about a small wedding party being stalked by a killer who has escaped from prison.

I've read this book, and I highly recommend it. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Our website is www.hannahalexander.com

Thank you, Cheryl, for spending this time with us.

Readers, you'll want to visit the Hannah Alexander web site. You'll also want a chance to win a copy of Death Benefits. Remember all you have to do is leave a comment on this interview.

There's still time to leave comments on the interviews with Grace Bridges, Maureen Lang, Molly Noble Bull, and Lisa T. Bergren.

I'm leaving tomorrow to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers national conference in Dallas. If you live within driving distance, come to the Marriott hotel that is north of the Galleria and just south of Beltline Road. There will be a booksigning with almost 70 Christian authors, many of whom you've met on this blog, that is open to the public from 1:30-2:30 on Saturday afternoon.

I'd love to meet you there. You can bring books you have at home for the authors to sign, or the conference bookstore will be open at 1:00 if you need to buy some there.

I'll be home to choose winners and post another blog on Sunday.


Stormi said...

Nice interview, this book sounds great. Please enter me in the drawing. :o)

Unknown said...

This books sounds interesting please enter me in the drawing.

Melissa in Oregon

Anonymous said...

I love Hannah Alexander Books, great interview. Looking forward to reading this new book
cebumommy@ yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I recently picked up a Hannah Alexander book and added it to my TBR pile. I sure wouldn't mind getting another. BTW, do you know how they chose that pen name? I'm curious.

Anonymous said...

I have read every Hannah Alexander book up to Death Benefits...please enter me in the drawing. The Hodde's books are fabulous and I am excited to see that there are more coming out next year.


Anonymous said...

I love how their books involve you in the story right away. I'd love to be enterered in the drawing. dandjklein@juno.com

Cherie J said...

Enjoyed the interview and would like to be entered in the drawing for this book.

ChristyJan said...

What an interesting interview.
I'd love to be entered in the drawing for this book.

Norma said...

I have heard good things about Hannah Alexander books. I would love to be entered to win this one.

tetewa said...

I'd love to be entered in the draw!

Anonymous said...

mysteries, weddings, suspense all sound good to me count me in. Love to read.

Carolynn said...

I love Hannah Alexander books, please enter me too, thanks!
carolynnwald at hotmail dot com

C.Gwynn said...

Great interview. The book sounds awesome.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Cheryl just sent me this information:

Mel and I chose Hannah Alexander because I identify with Hannah in the Bible, and Mel chose Alexander because the name means servant of mankind, and as a physician, he hopes to be serving mankind.

Jenny said...

Enjoyed the interview and finding out how the name "Hannah Alexander" came about.

I have really enjoyed the Hideaway series, and am looking forward to Death Benefits. I live in SW Missouri, so it's really neat to be able to relate to the setting of the books.

eviesmommo at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

Oh what a wonderful thing! Another book to try to win! So many good suthors and so many good interviews! Please enter me for the book!
God Bless!