An Exclusive Authorlink Interview with Bonnie Hearn Hill
Author of Intern
By Doris Booth
Author Bonnie Hearn Hill has heard voices for years. She just doesnt pay attention to them.
Thats no good, the voices say . What makes you think you can write? You should be spending more time cleaning your house! Honey, do you know how many people are out there trying to write a book?
In fact, ignoring those voices finally won her a three-book publishing contract with Mira (a division of Harlequin) before she had even written the second and third manuscripts. They were her first big deals for fiction. But thats not all. Since the initial book, Intern, was accepted, she has landed a second three-book contract with the same publishersix titles so far.
"All you have to do to succeed as an author is to work your behind off for thirty or forty years . . ." Bonnie Hearn Hill
How does she do it?
Persistence works, Bonnie laughs. All you have to do to succeed as an author is to work your behind off for thirty or forty years, fall asleep at the computer, and not have a life.
Intern, released in February 2003, explores why young, attractive, intelligent women with bright futures succumb to older, unattainable men of power. Twenty-three year old April Wayne is an aide to charismatic California State Senator Eric Barry. She believes her married boss when he tells her theyll one day be together. When April suddenly disappears, her mother, Gloria, questions Senator Barrys character and doggedly pursues the truth. As the story unfolds, different female characters each grapple with how to compensate for their feelings of powerlessness.
Bonnie Hearn Hill, who has spent 21 years as the Special Sections editor at the Fresno Bee, Central Californias largest daily newspaper, has always written full time, though Intern is her first fictional work to land a publisher. I write for the newspaper by day, and for myself every single night, she says. I love the newspaper. Fortunately theyve let me cut back to part time after all these years, so I now have more hours to write fiction.
"There are parts of me in all of my characters." Bonnie Hearn Hill
Passionate about writing character-driven novels, she gleans ideas for story people from her own experiences. The good have flaws and the bad have reasons. There are parts of me in all of my characters, she says.
She began Intern in the 1990s, after publishing several nonfiction works. I knew if I didnt show a commitment to my fiction Id never make it. I had an offer to write yet one more nonfiction book, and I simply gave the project to another writer. I had to demonstrate to myselfand to the universethat I was a fiction writer.
Mira editor Amy Moore Benson read the manuscript, bought it and promptly offered Bonnie a contract for two more books.
The universe apparently listened. Bonnie, also a writing teacher and frequent speaker at writing conferences, met Paddy Calistro, the publisher of Angel City Press, at a writing conclave.
We worked together on a nonfiction book, but Paddy knew my passion was to write novels about women and empowerment. We became close friends. When Bonnie finished Intern, originally called, It Never Rains in California, Paddy suggested that Bonnie send a sample to agent Laura Dail who wasnt taking on any new authors at the time. The agent read the first 50 pages, and talked to Bonnie for a few minutes by phone.
Im committed if you are, said Dail. But she added that the title would need to be changed.
Well, what do you want me to call it? Something like, Intern?
I love it, said Dail. And, so the bookroughly edited at the timebecame known by its present name.
Mira editor Amy Moore Benson read the manuscript, bought it, and promptly offered Bonnie a contract for two more booksone a newspaper thriller, and another to be based on the weight loss industry. The second three-book contract came shortly thereafter.
Initial reviews for Intern have been good. Publishers Weekly calls the novel a page turner. Mary Jane Clark, New York Times bestselling author of Nobody Knows, says the book is engrossing, provocative, and haunting.
If youre ever going to succeed, says Bonnie, you have to turn off the negative voices. Most of us dont realize the power we have within. How good can the roses smell if youre not doing the job you were put here on earth to do?
Bonnie advises new authors to turn off the voices in their heads, to get instruction, and to read. You have to learn the craft first. Most people dont know how to write a scene. They dont know the meaning of point of view. You have to learn writing at the organic level. Do that, and the rest will happen. Agents will represent you and publishers will buy your work.
"The trick is to turn off those [negative] voices." Bonnie Hearn Hill
If you want to write more than anything, yet cant seem to follow through, it may be that theres a monster in your head, whispering in your ear. Every writer has one. The trick is to turn off those voices.
Bonnie sometimes tells her writing students that Evil is loudest just before its destroyed, like the last hideous scream of a horror film monster. The monster will attack. Expect it. And then, demonstrate your commitment. Borrow a computer. Go to that conference, even if youve broken your leg. Its not easy, but you can do it. And if you cant get rid of the monster voices, you can at least turn the volume down.
Visit Bonnie Hearn Hills web site at www.bonniehearn.com . Buy Intern from Amazon.com.
Doris Booth Copyright 2002-2003 by Authorlink and Bonnie Hearn Hill