Robin Lee Hatcher is the best-selling author of over seventy-five books. Her well drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Here at WriWoW, she kindly agreed to answer all the questions you've always had for a famous romance novelist, but were afraid to ask...
DEAR ROBIN: I love your novels! They have inspired me to become a writer, but I’m afraid my protagonist is a little too, how shall I put it, gritty for the CBA market. Help!--
DEAR ROMANTIC REALIST: Your character may very well be too gritty for the Christian market, but I’ll read your novel. I don’t really like to read books in which the protagonist is perfect. I don’t know any perfect people. I certainly don’t know any perfect Christians. Good authors always write flawed characters. If they’re not flawed, there’s no growth.
DEAR ROBIN: I’ve had a crisis of confidence as I pursue my romance writing career, because, let’s be honest, most women will never meet a man who’s as FABULOUS as a hero in a romance novel. Are these novels just making women long for something they’ll never have? Are we promoting dissatisfaction?--
CREATOR IN CRISIS
DEAR CREATOR: I remember falling in love with my husband--all those intense emotions. I told him at one point that we needed to hurry up and get married because falling in love was so exhausting. The great thing about romance novels is that they allow you to vicariously experience falling in love, and be reminded of what first love feels like, without the exhaustion! But that doesn’t mean we want to leave our husbands.
Seriously, romance novels are stories of hope. The hope that one man and one woman can find each other, overcome whatever obstacles are in their way, and know that there is a promise of a future for them. We all long to have someone in our lives who is significant, who knows us and loves us anyway. That can be friendship between two people or it can be the romance between man and nature or a boy and his dog—all of these are, at their core, love stories with hope for a future. Hope is what draws people to them. I believe our ultimate hope is in Christ, but through stories of love, I can show glimpses of Him, provide parables.
DEAR ROBIN: When people ask me what I’m writing, I tell them it’s “women’s fiction,” because that sounds more important and literary than “romance.” Is that wrong?--
WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
DEAR WANNABE: Consider this--I’ve written novels that are issues-oriented and novels that are straight romance. From the beginning, I had an expectation that the issues-oriented novels, some that came from really deep places inside me, would have more ministry impact. However, I get feedback from readers of my romances just as often about the impact those book have on their lives.
Because I’m an intuitive writer, I don’t always know where my novels are going at the beginning, or what the theme will be by the end. But all my novels have an overriding theme of God’s amazing grace, and are infused with whatever it is that God is working in me while I’m writing that book. If God is transforming you, and you let that process invade whatever you’re writing, it will be transformative for your readers, no matter the genre. I’d say that’s serious stuff.
DEAR ROBIN: There are days when I’m just not feeling it or I’m too worn out to write after a day of work, and kids and LIFE. I’ve heard that you treat your writing like a 9-5 job and you write every day. But how do you do that when it seems like the well is empty?--
WRITER AT THE WELL
DEAR WELL WRITER: The practical answer is easy. We all have days we don’t feel like doing our job, but we go to work and do it anyway. Writing has to be the same. I can produce something new for about four hours a day. So I'll write, and then the rest of the day I focus on editing, or marketing—the business end of writing. Being steady and consistent in your craft is one of the first things all writers need to learn. Sit down every day and write. Give yourself permission to let the bad stuff come out first, and the good stuff will follow.
But the deeper answer has to do with faith, trust, and resting in God and His writing call in your life. When I wrote The Shepherd’s Voice, I was suffering burn-out and I never felt any flow in writing that book. I didn’t feel connected to the characters. Every word was dragged out of me and onto the page. I was sure, when I submitted it, it was the worst thing I’d ever written. That novel went on to win the RITA Award for the best inspirational that year and a number of other awards. God showed me that my feelings about my writing were beyond the point. They couldn’t be trusted. The longer I’ve lived and written, the easier it’s become to believe that.
DEAR ROBIN: I’m sure I’m a writer and go a little crazy when I can’t write. But I also struggle with feelings of guilt when I choose between my writing and my roles as wife, mother, friend, child…--
NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT MY QUESTION IS
DEAR NOT SURE: Schedules can be beautiful things. When I started writing, I was working full-time. I didn’t quit my full-time job until I released my ninth book. So, I learned to write in little snatches. I wrote evenings and weekends. Monday through Thursday, I wrote from 7-9 at night. Friday night, Saturday afternoons and Sundays were family times.
Create a schedule, stick to it, and most importantly, reject that voice of guilt, those whispers of negativity that seem like your own thoughts. That voice isn’t about doing the right thing. It’s the Enemy, and it’s about tearing you down.
DEAR ROBIN: My life is off-the-rails crazy! I’m dealing with disease, dysfunction—really traumatic stuff. I’m finding it hard to believe that God can create a real author out of the messiness of my life, but I’m praying for a miracle.--
DEAR WRECK: So sorry. I understand. As you might know, my husband was an alcoholic for the first seventeen years of our marriage, we were apart for six years and divorced for five. About the same time my husband and I separated, my mother’s health started to deteriorate. After she passed away, I was seriously injured and just when I was completing the physical therapy for my injury, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Believe me, I was praying for miracles.
But let me tell you a couple of secrets God taught me through those times. First, I’m so thankful that my husband was healed and he and I were able to reconcile. But that didn’t happen over night. Sometimes miracles do happen, that’s why we call them miracles. But most of the time, God is saying, “Be yoked to me, and we’ll walk through this together.” Let’s face it—we don’t like being yoked. We want deliverance. But what God wants is for us to draw close to Him.
Second, you have to accept life. I ask myself often, “Is God in control or not?” If He’s in control, then I’m okay. The storm may go on, but I can rest.
Even though life may feel out of control, I still control the words that go on the page. The most amazing stories of grace and joy and redemption come from the darkest places. As writers, we learn from those deep places, and we write from them.
DEAR ROBIN: I injured myself this weekend and am currently under the influence of morphine, and I’m feeling so spacey I can barely type these worfs. But you are so inspiring, I’m feeling like I should just press on with my writ....--
DEAR SPACE CADET: Been there and it was the one period of my life when I took a break from writing. Although, now I think I should have pressed on—it could have been my first space romance!
Writing Without A Wife Take Aways from Robin Lee Hatcher
Write consistently. Create a schedule and stick with it, though that schedule may need to change during different phases of your life.
Always strive to let God’s hope and amazing grace invade your writing, whether implicitly or explicitly, no matter your genre.
Trust God in the process. Sometimes the process can be very messy—whether that’s our life or our work-in-progress—trust through all of it.
KEEPER OF THE STARS
Because it’s not always love at first sight!
When her mother died from pneumonia, Penny Cartwright was heartbroken. But now, after burying her younger brother just 12 years later, she is devastated. Anger, guilt, and sorrow cloud Penny’s mind, and the last thing she wants is to be reminded of her pain—but that’s exactly what happens when a stranger comes to town.
Trevor Reynolds has been chasing fame for more than a dozen years, but his musical career can’t get off the ground. While on the road, an accident kills his young drummer, Brad Cartwright. Trevor wasn’t behind the wheel, but he still blames himself… and so does Brad’s sister, Penny. Now Trevor finds himself in Kings Meadow, determined to follow through on his final promise to his friend.
Still feeling the pain of Brad’s death, Penny and Trevor must learn that forgiveness is the only thing that can heal their hearts. And if they do forgive, something beautiful may rise from the ashes of heartbreak.
"Hatcher is able to unravel emotions within her characters so brilliantly that we sense the transformation taking place within ourselves."
— RT Book Reviews
Robin Lee Hatcher is the best-selling author of over seventy-five books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA® Award for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, the Carol Award, the 2011 Idahope Writer of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement Awards from both Romance Writers of America (2001) and American Christian Fiction Writers (2014). Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat).