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Humor has become a hallmark of Sandra Hill's books. She started out with Vikings, tried a medieval knight, moved into the Old South, then the California gold fields, on to modern-day Manhattan, Memphis, Maine and Galveston. But the one element that has remained consistent in all her books is the laugh-out-loud humor.
Sandra's first book came out in October 1994, and since then she has published fifteen novels and had novellas in four anthologies, all through Dorchester Publishing. Married for almost thirty years (to the same man!!!), Sandra is the mother of four sons. Living with five males (not to mention a male German Shepherd the size of a small horse) is enough to make any woman develop a sense of humor, Sandra often says. Either that, or go mad.
The most gratifying thing to Sandra has been the amazing reader response to her books. Almost 5,000 readers have taken the time to write to her over the past five years (some of them repeatedly) to tell her how much her books have touched their lives. This is the one thing Sandra never expected when she first started writing...the need for laughter in a world that is becoming increasingly stressful and sometimes downright dreary. She is only too happy to help and promises her fans that her well of humor is not about to run dry for a long, long time.
PNR: Welcome back Sandra, when we last spoke with you in 2002, you were looking forward to the release of THE VERY VIRILE VIKING, and you have been very busy since then. Could you tell readers what you have been up to?
Sandra H.: Lots of things have happened since then. Seems like ages ago.
1) Three more sequels to THE VERY VIRILE VIKING have been written: WET AND WILD, HOT AND HEAVY, and ROUGH AND READY (12/06), with DOWN AND DIRTY coming next October.
2) My historicals and time travels will no longer come from Dorchester, my longtime publisher, but instead will be published by Berkley.
3) My contemporaries come from Warner these days, TALL, DARK AND CAJUN, THE CAJUN COWBOY, and THE RED-HOT CAJUN, all sequels to THE LOVE POTION.
4) I have a new Jinx fortune hunting series being published by Warner Vision, starting with PINK JINX, 11/06, to be followed by PEARL JINX in July, 2007.
PNR: Your work is very popular with readers; THE VERY VIRILE VIKING won the 2003 PEARL Award for Best Time Travel, WET & WILD was a finalist for the 2004 PEARL Award and HOT & HEAVY won Honorable Mention for the 2005 PEARL Award for Best Time Travel. How does it feel to have such positive recognition for your work?
Sandra H.: In this very tight market, it is very gratifying. I believe that the reason I have been able to survive is that, even though I write in many genres (historical, contemporary, time travel, Viking, Cajun, Navy SEAL, etc.), the common thread is humor. So, for the most part, I believe my readers follow me into genres they might not otherwise try.
PNR: Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer?
Sandra H.: There have always been people in the background who encouraged and supported me, like my mother and husband, but the reason I write novels (I always wrote in one form or another) is that I have read good books and wanted to do the same. Lots of people say they read bad books and thought they could do better. I read some of the pioneers in the heyday of romance and yearned to be part of that movement…Johanna Lindsey, Judith McNaught, Rosemary Rogers, etc. But even today, I am constantly coming on new-to-me authors that ignite that flame in me again. Mary Balogh, Suzanne Brockmann, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christina Dodd, Christine Feehan, Susan Wiggs, Janet Evanovich.
PNR: Readers and reviewers have complimented your expertly written historical settings; what are the challenges you face in making the past come alive for the reader? How much research is involved?
Sandra H.: I love research, as many authors do. The challenge is to not let the history take over the book, keeping in mind that it’s a romance not a history textbook. I have often said that I could write a doctoral thesis on tenth century Vikings, but I’ve done as much research on Cajuns and Navy SEALs. I do try to get things right, and mostly I get the historical or geographical details correct. It’s the little things that trip me up. For example, who knew that a person doesn’t peel okra? Many readers have corrected me on that one.
PNR: Do you feel your writing is character driven or plot driven? How do you balance these two elements?
Sandra H.: Absolutely character driven. Often I come up with characters, then build a plot around them. Especially in the series I have written. There are always secondary characters who deserve their own stories. As for the balance, I have always said that readers will forgive a weak plot if the author has given them compelling characters. But they don’t care about the characters, you can have the best plot in the world, and it won’t matter.
PNR: You are known for the humor you infuse in your writing; does this approach come naturally to you? Do you find humor to be an essential element in your work?
Sandra H.: Humor is critical to my writing. I never intended to write humor when I started out, and I never considered myself funny in person (my family doesn’t think I have a funny bone in my body.) It’s odd, but I don’t know where the humor ideas come from. Sometimes when I read back something I’ve written, I wonder where I ever came up with that outrageous idea. There is always a sense of panic when I start a new book, that I won’t be funny any more, but thus far the humor muses have shown up every time. Knock on wood.
PNR: December will bring the release of your sixth contemporary Viking time travel, ROUGH AND READY; will sexy Navy Seal, Torolf, and Hilda burn up the pages?
Sandra H.: Absolutely. I told my editor, after handing in this manuscript, that there is one scene in the book that I thought she might object to, that I might have taken just a bit too far, but she loved it. It’s when Torolf wakes up in the middle of the night and finds Hilda in the bathroom before a mirror, naked, looking for…well, nevermind. <g> Suffice it to say, he almost swallows his tongue.
PNR: Could you tell us a little about how you develop your characters? Who has been your favorite character to write? The most challenging?
Sandra H.: I still love Etienne, the mischievous little boy from FRANKLY, MY DEAR, who had his own story in SWEETER SAVAGE LOVE. It was after the Civil War, Etienne had been a prisoner of war and suffered terribly, but he still managed to maintain his sense of humor. A tormented hero with a sense of humor. My favorite. I also loved Magnus from THE VERY VIRILE VIKING. The poor guy had thirteen children and took a vow of celibacy (which didn’t last long) so that he wouldn’t have any more. Magnus was a challenge to write because in previous books I had described him as a womanizer, a guy with big ears, a farmer for heaven’s sake!
PNR: Though you have written in the contemporary genre with your Cajun series, several short stories and now Pink Jinx, your niche seems to be time travel romance. What is it about this genre that captures your imagination?
Sandra H.: Time travel lends itself to humor, which is my forte. What’s not to find funny about a person landing in another time or place?
PNR: Is there a genre you haven’t written but would like to try?
Sandra H.: Actually, I told my editor recently that I wouldn’t mind writing a book called THE VIKING VAMPIRE.
PNR: You were writing time travel romance when it was not readily accepted by the publishing industry and I consider you one of the authors that pioneered the growing popularity of this sub-genre. Tell us about some of the obstacles you faced, and still face in bringing your work to readers. What stopped you from giving in to “popular trend”?
Sandra H.: As I said before, the common thread in all my books is humor. Therefore, when paranormal went out of favor, it was the humor that sustained me. There are still people who won’t even try a time travel. Editors try to lure these people in by presenting the books in a way that downplays the time travel. For example, my Viking Navy SEALs are contemporary time travels (most of the action takes place in the present), but the covers clearly portray a contemporary setting; so, a person might not realize it is a time travel unless they read the blurb carefully.
PNR: Your newest book, PINK JINX, just released from Warner Books. This is a departure from your Viking time travels; could you give us a sneak peek?
Sandra H.: What the Jinx books are is a continuation, in an indirect way, of my Cajun novels. Some of the characters from my Cajun books will show up in these, such as Tante Lulu and Tee-John LeDeux. I love PINK JINX because of its mixture of humor and poignancy.
Veronica Jinkowsky is a lawyer conned by her grandfather into taking over his treasure hunting company, Jinx, Inc. Along for the ride is Ronnie’s four-times ex-husband Jake Jensen, a professional poker player. Ronnie and Jake love each other so much, but they just can’t get it right.
PNR: Please tell us about the projects you are currently working on; what can readers expect to see in the coming months?
Sandra H.: Next July will come PEARL JINX, the story of Caleb Peachy, an ex-Amish Navy SEAL. I love Caleb. Currently I am working on DOWN AND DIRTY, a contemporary time travel, featuring Zachary “Pretty Boy” Floyd, a SEAL, and Britta the Big, a Viking warrior woman. Believe me; Pretty Boy’s womanizing days are over.
PNR: Thank you, Sandra, for taking time out to speak with us. Where can readers find out what's new and how can they contact you?
Sandra H.: Please visit my website, www.sandrahill.net, where I have lots of new things available, including flash videos, genealogy charts, and two original novellas not seen elsewhere, JINX XMAS, and BOLTHOR’S BRIDE.
Viking Series I: Historical
Viking Series II: Contemporary
Down and Dirty (coming October 2007)
Featured in this issue:Time Travel Themed Romance Holiday Themed Romance
Available Now Buy it Now!
A mission of no mercy
It takes nothing short of a miracle to catapult Lt. Torolf Magnusson and his team of Navy SEALs back in time to eleventh-century Norselands. First on the agenda: destroy the evil villain who terrorized his ancestors and a nation.
A surrender so sweet
But when the sexy SEALs find they've landed in the middle of a sanctuary--filled with women, well, Hoo-yah! Their game plans are put on hold, much to the distress of Hilda, the head of the sanctuary. At first resistant, she soon succumbs to Torolf's passionate advances. Suddenly the term "Special Forces" takes on a whole new meaning. But with victory in sight for Torolf, Hilda must face the fact that their love may not survive the test of time...Buy it Now! Warner Books
November 1, 2006
Paperback Jinx Series: Book 1
Caught! Straight-laced Boston lawyer Veronica "Ronnie" Jinkowsky knows something's fishy when her estranged grandfather lures her to his New Jersey treasure hunting business with woeful tales of old age and bankruptcy. But she never expected the salty old dog to shanghai her into a hunt for pink diamonds with her poker-playing, four-time ex-husband Jake Jensen in tow.
Betting her heart on Jake was always a losing proposition; yet just the sight of his come-hither blue eyes is still enough to melt her steely resolve. Now she's on a high seas' adventure that throws together lost gems, lost ship, and lost love--not to mention a Mafia widow, her two goons, and an elderly Cajun matchmaker hankering for hanky-panky-
AND GOING DOWN FOR THE LAST TIME!
Ronnie is trapped with the man she could never learn to live with--and was never happy without. A jinx of the best possible kind.Buy it Now! Leisure
July 1, 2005
Paperback Viking Series II: Book 5
IN AND OUT...
That's the goal as Lieutenant Ian MacLean prepares for his special ops mission in Northern Iraq, and he sees no reason the insertion should not go down as planned.
He leads a team of highly trained Navy SEALs, the toughest, buffest fighting men in the world. As a 34-year-old bachelor, he has nothing to lose and the adrenaline high of a HALO jump singing in his blood.
He has the brains, guts, and brawn to out-maneuver, out- gun and just plain run circles around the enemy.
BACK AND FORTH
Madrene Olgadottir comes from a time a thousand years before Ian was born, and she has no idea she's landed in the future.
After bopping him on the head and tying him up, she gives him a tongue lashing that makes a drill sergeant sound like a kindergarten teacher. Then she lets him know she has her own special way of dealing with over-confident males. Hoo-yah, it looks like Operation Rodent is about to get...
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