Hays Williams Interviews Joanne Hirase about 2012: The Rising
HW: When did you start writing?
JH: I mostly remember writing at school. I loved creating stories, and they were usually about dogs or my family. I did go through a phase in high school where I thought poetry was the best form of expression. I also read a lot of books, and remember thinking I could write one someday. My dad was an avid reader, whether it was the newspaper, magazines, or books. If there were a contest for the most books read in a lifetime, my guess is that he’d be one of the top. But he taught me that doing what you enjoy is what matters.
HW: Do you write full-time?
JH: No. I can’t even say that I write part-time consistently. NANO spurs me to create something every November though! I work full-time as a
corporate attorney, and I am an adjunct professor. My commute every day is long, and in southeastern Idaho, we don’t have subways or public transportation, so I actually have to drive. Makes me unproductive sometimes.
HW: Do you outline?
JH: I do and I don’t, if that makes sense. I love the book, “First Draft in 30-Days” by Karen Wiesner, and one year for NANO, I took the time to meticulously follow every step in her book. It came together well, but I can’t say I was completely happy with the outcome. I felt handcuffed to the outline, even though I knew I could break the chain. I was scared to do that because I thought the whole book would fall apart. The next NANO I had a concept and ran with it, and the book ended up taking a wild turn that I didn’t expect. I had fun writing it, and am currently trying to find an agent or small press to publish it. Now I do some of her worksheets, to give me a start and know that I have a solid idea, then wing the rest of it.
HW: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
JH: My absolute favorite part of writing is the editing. It means that I have something on paper (usually terrible), but working it over and over so it shines is rewarding.
HW: How did you come to write this book?
JH: Here’s the story: my husband is crazy for science fiction. And he has a great imagination. In 2009, we were fixing up my parents’ house to sell it, and during the two hour drives back and forth, he fed me a storyline. We talked it through, with all kinds of possibilities, and “2012: The Rising” was born. I wrote the first part of it for NANO (told you I love it!), and I kept working at it for the next few months. Then tragedy struck when my dad died unexpectedly in May 2010, and I couldn’t find any words inside of me. I quit writing altogether. I decided to finish the book with NANO that November, but we were hit with another heartbreak when my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer. I spent a week with him just before Thanksgiving, and he passed away two weeks later. It was very emotional to lose two dads in one year, and I lost my spirit. With my husband’s encouragement, I picked it back up and finished the book in the fall of 2011, realizing that my hopes of finding a publisher were diminishing quickly since the book is very specifically about December 21, 2012. I’m blessed that Musa Publishing thought it worthy to get out to the world.
HW: What are your favorite books?
JH: I have so many! I admit that I read a lot of books about writing, but when it comes to fiction, I read Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly, Tony Hillerman, JA Jance. I have also read several science fiction short stories, and am finding myself really enjoying those. I haven’t had time to explore science fiction novels yet, but there are some from my fellow Musa authors that I will buy.
HW: What are your hobbies?
JH: I love to run. It’s the escape where I come up with ideas, get myself out of those writing jams, or just enjoy being alone. I also quilt, which can be relaxing. I do keep my seam ripper close by though! Animal rescue is another joy of mine because every precious animal deserves a loving, permanent home. My four babies don’t know how lucky they are!
HW: What’s next?
JH: I have one book in the editing stage, one book that is being marketed, and thoughts for new books percolating in my brain. While writing my first book, I was terrified that I couldn’t ever do it again because I wouldn’t have anything more to say. Not to worry! I have several manuscripts that are sitting, and maybe one day I’ll fall in love with them again and they’ll be resurrected. But for now, I’m happy working with the new ideas that won’t leave me alone.
HW: What have you learned through publishing your book?
JH: Four things: 1) That I can’t do it alone. My beta readers were key to what was good and what didn’t work. 2) My publisher isvery supportive, but I can’t rely on them for everything. I have to make myself successful, and Kim McDougal of Blazing Trailers and Dianna Graveman of 2 Rivers Communication & Design are crucial in helping me. 3) Tap into your network. Angela Mackintosh of WOW! Women on Writing is such a lovely, funny lady, and I’m lucky to be able to call her my friend. She gave me great ideas and put some marketing into motion for me. 4) The process takes time, energy, and patience, things I can be short of.
HW: Any final words of advice?
JH: Do what works for you, and don’t give up.
A former human-interest columnist and business writer, Hays Williams is the author of The Jenny & Pete Mystery Series—for middle grade or older readers. The first two books in the series are The Mystery of the Dogman and The Secret of Bonner House. Both books have received 5-star reviews on line. She is currently working on the third book: The Tangled Web: A Mother’s Secret.
Mrs. Williams and her husband have three children and seven grandchildren. They have all been an inspiration for her writing. To learn more about her or to read reviews on (and excerpts from) her books, go to www.hayswilliams.com.
Her books are available at all on-line booksellers. You may also ask any bookstore to order them from Ingram.
Hays Williams Interviews Joanne Hirase about Earth: The Return
HW: The third and final book of the Mac Carter Chronicles is now available! I enjoyed 2012: The Rising, and Chasra: The Homecoming, and Earth: The Return doesn’t disappoint. How does it feel to bring the tale of Mac Carter to an end?
JH: Thank you so much! I can’t believe my journey with Mac has come to an end. He’s been an interesting character that evolved and maybe devolved, and I’ll miss him.
HW: Was this book difficult to write?
JH: Amazingly enough, this book was the easiest. The first was difficult because of all the research, developing the characters, and trying to think ahead. The second was difficult because I had to create new worlds and characters, and change Mac. Going back to Earth wasn’t so bad. It really didn’t change much because Earth had a hard time embracing the new rules.
HW: Did you have an idea of how your trilogy was going to end?
JH: It was a little fuzzy, but the gist of it was there all along. Of course in talking it out with my husband, he gave me so many ideas of what could happen and how, that the book took a little bit of a different turn than I anticipated. But that’s part of the fun.
HW: What do you mean by that?
JH: Even though I create a basic outline of what I think is going to happen, sometimes my characters force me to do something different. I follow their lead because they take me places that I never would have thought of on my own. It’s tricky though, because I end up writing myself into a corner and then have to depend on my husband to help talk me through it.
HW: I see that you included an acknowledgment in this book.
JH: Yes. I wanted to save it for the last book to take my readers through the process and journey that I lived to get this trilogy published. It’s bittersweet and some of it was difficult to get down on paper. This might sound strange, but I always knew that one day I would be published, but never thought that my parents wouldn’t be around to celebrate with me.
HW: What are you working on now?
JH: I have four manuscripts that are in various stages of editing, and one book that is halfway through the rough draft. After I finished 2012: The Rising, I wondered if I would ever be able to write another book. I’ve surprised myself, and hope to start submitting manuscripts soon so I can get more books published!
HW: Final thoughts?
JH: If you want to write, you’ve got to start somewhere. It’s a lonely, solitary, difficult process, but it’s one word at a time. You have to have thick skin and patience, and you have to be a little selfish with your time. But the joy and excitement when you see your name on the cover of your book makes all the pain disappear. That is, until you sit down and struggle once again… The only cure is to keep writing and publishing!
Hays Williams Interviews Joanne Hirase about Chasra: The Homecoming
HW: Congratulations on publishing your second book! Even though I’ve never been a big reader of science fiction, I found I wanted to keep reading this book. Great characters! You are definitely a gifted sci-fi author.
JH: Thank you so much! It’s hard to believe that I now have two novels published. It’s always been a dream to be published once, but twice? And the last novel of the Mac Carter Chronicles is scheduled for publication on December 5th.
HW: Was there anything different about writing this book than writing 2012: The Rising?
JH: Yes. It’s been an interesting journey so far because the first book required research and learning so much about all the doomsday theories. Chasra: The Homecoming took more imagination. It was fun to create a new setting and new characters.
HW: Your characters are so interesting. How do you develop them?
JH: It’s quite a process. I interview each character to get a sense of what he or she is like, their background, their experiences, their biases, their perceptions, their strengths, their weaknesses, and so on. They do change as I write, many times becoming someone completely different than I originally thought, but it’s always fun to create them and get to know them and see them evolve.
HW: Did you learn anything during the process of writing this book?
JH: That I’m a dialogue junkie. I often dictate during my long commute to work, and I never realized how much dialogue I use. The editing took longer than it should have because I had to let go of so many words and add more description. There’s a balance that needs to be achieved, and through several edits with my wonderful editor, Jessica Robinson, we finally got there.
HW: Tell me more about Musa Publishing.
JH: I am so blessed that they accepted my first book and are willing to stick with me through the publishing of the other two in the series. Musa is a royalty paying e-book publisher. It’s still a young company, but growing and improving all the time. I love that I have a developmental editor, content editor, line editor, and galley editor. I don’t think people understand how much work actually goes into publication, but to have the support of Musa and the other wonderful Musa authors is invaluable.
HW: With your busy schedule, how do you find time to write?
JH: As I mentioned before, I dictate while I drive, which helps get words down every day. Writing is such a commitment, but once you’re committed, it’s like an addiction. I have certain activities that I absolutely do every day, and writing is one of them.
HW: What’s next?
JH: I’m excited to publish the last book of the Mac Carter Chronicles, Earth: The Return. I am about 5,000 words away from having the rough draft done of a paranormal book, and I have pulled out two old manuscripts to polish. I have ideas for two more books that are begging for me to write them. I will keep moving forward and hopefully will have more publishing contracts coming up!
HW: Any final thoughts?
JH: Even though I’m not a best-selling author, I feel like I’m on top of the world. Publishing has always been a dream of mine, and my dream has come true. I still have so many writing goals, and will keep working relentlessly toward them.