We’ve interviewed NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author, Norma Hinkens, and asked her about her writing inspirations, the challenges she had to face, and her amazing novels. Read on to learn more about her and her work!
Hi Norma, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in County Donegal in Ireland, land of legends and storytelling. Ireland has a long and rich literary history stretching back to the Celts, and to this day you don’t have to go far to find someone who can entertain you with a good “yarn” over a pint of Guinness.
How did your interest in writing originate?
I’ve always loved reading and writing. It was how I expressed myself as a child and all through my teenage years, pouring out my heart in poems, short stories and songs. I was always the kid who got elected to tell the scary bedtime stories at sleepovers.
What books have most influenced your life?
1984 by George Orwell shook my world when I first read it and I have never forgotten that Big Brother is watching. That book spawned my interest in the dystopian genre. I also read every concentration camp escape story I could get my hands on, Escape from Auschwitz to name but one.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always been fascinated by regimes and resistance movements, and the heroes who emerge from atrocities. As an author, I find it intriguing to place characters in dystopian, post-apocalyptic or sci-fi settings and watch what unfurls inside them as they go head to head with staggering odds. After spending several summers in Idaho, and learning more about Preppers and survivalists, the idea to plant Derry Connolly in a bunker community of homesteaders and mountain men took seed and The Undergrounders Series was born.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Derry is one of those individuals for whom life is not worth living if you can’t live free. She isn’t some “chosen” one with special powers. Instead, she overcomes her limitations and fears, and reaches deep inside herself in order to lead a rebellion against a regime’s horrific abuse of power.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Freedom is messy. Human nature is deeply flawed and we’re all contributors to the mess we live in to one degree or another.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
A young Jodie Foster – tough, enigmatic, and with a fierce drive for justice.
Why do you write?
Despite the pen-pusher lows that are an inevitable part of the journey, writing fires me up and makes me come alive. Maybe it’s a power thing. I can give my characters their hearts’ desire and take it away from them in the very next scene. What other career allows you to kidnap and kill at will without being arrested for it?
All joking aside,I write because writing is where my passion and strengths intersect, and creativity is an integral part of who I am. Art has the power to move another human being and in my opinion that is worth striving for.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Treating it like a real job where you have to show up at a certain time and put in your hours on a daily basis. It’s all too easy to throw in a load of laundry, start answering emails and jump on Facebook, and before you know it all your time has been swallowed up with trivial pursuits. Once you commit to the discipline of treating your writing time as sacred, you can make real progress in terms of the quality of your craft, and the quantity of writing you produce.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
The pressure of trying to get it out quickly.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
Going on a walkabout with my characters – way too much fun as I’m never sure where we will end up.
What does your writing process look like?
I aim for about three hours of writing time, five days a week. I sometimes do some editing later in the day if I have extra time, but with three kids heading in different directions most days, it gets frantic!
Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
Not really, although I have a makeshift standing desk and I stand to write.
What is your favorite book and why?
Too many to name! Some books strike terror in my heart, others bring me to tears. Some change my thinking on an issue, some make me laugh out loud. I love the ability of books to play on the full range of human emotions.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never edit a first draft.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
My big passion is traveling, anywhere! Other cultures fascinate me. I also love the backcountry (Idaho and Alaska in particular.) Biking, hiking, boating, skiing, and reading of course.
From where do you gain your inspiration?
Being alone with my thoughts, reading up on scientific breakthroughs, movies, random characters I bump into during the course of my day.
Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Someone who actively resisted a regime. Maybe Viktor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search For Meaning after surviving Auschwitz, or Corrie Ten Boom, the dutch watchmaker who built a secret room in her house to hide Jews from the Nazis.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
The Hobbit or The Lord of The Rings. Hard to beat those jaw-dropping Baggins-like adventures!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you are certain writing is where your passion and strengths intersect, don’t take your eyes off the goal. Put your shoulder to the wheel and throw your whole heart into mastering the craft, and taking incremental steps toward publication. Dogged persistence will get you there in the end, and the talent you have honed along the way will be your staying power.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Check out my blog at http://normahinkens.com/ or like my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/NormaHinkensAuthor to see all the stellar science fiction and dystopian content I post. I also pop in and out of the following sites: