Wednesday, April 05, 2006


For the next three days, we're featuring novelist Vicki Hinze, member of International Thriller Writers. I profiled her for the February issue of the free Thriller Readers Newsletter, and we'll be sharing the entire Q&A here.

The award-winning author of nearly two-dozen novels, Vicki has won readers with romantic thrillers that, from one book to the next, range in genre from paranormal suspense to espionage to time travel. She is also recognized as one of the first to write military romantic suspense thrillers.

Her February novel—Vicki is so prolific that the phrase “latest novel” won’t be correct for very long— is Bulletproof Princess (Silhouette Bombshell). It is the sixth volume in the "It Girls" project, a tag-team mini-series from several authors about a secret club of heiresses who infiltrate the world of high society crime.

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As a thriller novelist, you occupy a rare territory—do you write military/espionage thrillers with romance, or romantic thrillers with military/espionage?

Going back to 1995, I've done both. The stories I like reading and writing best have three elements: suspense, mystery and romance. The emphasis shifts to best serve the needs of the story. More often than not, the novels are thrillers with a suspense and a romantic element. I developed a reader base early on in the romance genre, and I attempt to respect it, but I've always written crossover books dealing with issues.

Did you intend to break new ground, or were you just writing something you wanted as a reader?
I only have one rule about the books I write: I must love them. For me to love them, they have to be purpose-driven as well as entertaining. The reasons have varied from shedding light on domestic abuse (1989), biological terrorism (1993), chemical warfare (1994), nuclear (1995) the potential for poisoning our water (1995) and food supply (2001), sex-slavery (2002, 2004) and child porn (2005). So my reasons for selecting the stories I do is purpose-driven rather than fitting into a specific slot in the market.

Admittedly, building a career would be more efficient if I'd choose a marketing niche and stay in it, but that's not why I'm here and not why I write.

How has your recent eye surgery affected your work?
The surgery would have slowed me down for a few days and done little else ... but the protective goggles I wore to avoid injury after it actually slipped and caused an injury that knocked me totally out of commission for a couple weeks.

I went from seeing "blurry" to not being able to keep my eye open. It's disorienting not to be able to focus. I couldn't read words on a page (to follow novel threads) so I started dictating a new nonfiction book. In under two weeks, I've done nearly 200 pages.

So it's working out -- a fact for which my husband is grateful. There's nothing more cranky than a writer who isn't writing. Seriously, sometimes we have to get creative, but there's always a way.

What are your writing habits?
I try not to develop many because I've seen so many writers get locked into writing one way and then when they can't work in that way, they believe they can't write. So I experiment with new methods all the time.

I average writing 25-40 pages per day, and often edit in 3-5 chapter segments. I compose on the computer keyboard, the recorder and, at times, on scrap paper, the edges of the newspaper or cocktail napkins. It depends on where I am and what I'm doing when those snippets of gems hit me.

I don't much like composing in longhand because my writing speed is too slow to keep up with my mind and I lose too much, though even with that there is an exception. When I hit a scene that's giving me trouble, I take a notebook to the kitchen table and write the scene out in longhand. That relates back to childhood and my dad telling me 99% of all genius is created at the kitchen table. It's a sure-fire get-you-out-of-this-jam-
and-away-from-that-brick-wall method of writing that's never failed to work.

Some books are emotionally challenging to write. For those, I usually abandon the office, take the laptop to the kitchen table, and get the first draft down, then go outside—under an oak (my favorite tree for its strength) or to the beach (my special perspective place) to edit.

Are you an “outline” writer or “make it up as you go” writer?
I've done both but for the last five years or so, I've worked from a plot board because I like complex plots and it's easy to spot holes or loose threads on one before you write. No writing yourself into brick walls and less rewriting.

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Come back tomorrow for the second part of our Q&A. You can find her online at

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More mystery and thriller novelists:
Q&A: TASHA ALEXANDER (And Only to Deceive)
Q&A: LONNIE CRUSE (Murder In Metropolis)

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