It’s author Libbie Hawker on the blog today. She is the bestselling author of “The Sekhmet Bed” besides other works. You can visit her website at http://libbiehawker.com/
1) Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Your friends and family?
I live on a small island off the coast of Washington State in the USA with my husband and our two cats, but in the past I’ve lived in Seattle and in a few other cities around the West. I really love the American West. It crops up often in my writing!
2) Tell us about your books.
Most of what I write is historical fiction, but I do some literary fiction, too. Under this pen name, I’ve written fifteen books to date, including my how-to books for writers and a historical fiction piece that’s part of a multi-author project (and won’t be published until October 2016.)
3) When did you first begin writing?
I’ve always written stories for fun, ever since I was a kid. But I got serious about writing and began pursuing it as a career in 2008. That was when I started my first novel, The Sekhmet Bed, which is set in ancient Egypt.
4) You seem to be very interested in ancient Egypt, with some of your books set there. Any reasons why?
That’s true! Currently I have seven books set in ancient Egypt, with another one on the way. There’s just something about that setting that has captured my imagination and won’t let it go. Ancient Egypt feels exotic and familiar at the same time, and it had a very long history that provides a lot of opportunity and variety for a historical novelist. I think that has something to do with it. Also, I’ve been interested in Egypt since I was a kid, so it could just be that it’s a long-time obsession for me.
5) You have had lots of success in the publishing industry and the first book of you The She-King series has over seven hundred reviews on Amazon. What do you believe is the reason for your success?
I think a big part of my success is my focus on Egypt. There aren’t a lot of other historical novels out there with Egyptian settings, but there are plenty of people who are interested in ancient Egypt and would like to read fiction set in the time of the Pharaohs. I’m providing well-written, beautifully presented books in an underserved, under-represented niche, and that keeps a lot of readers coming back for more.
I do write in other settings as well, but my readers have told me time and again that they love the Egypt stories best and want more of them! So my goal is to publish a new Egyptian novel at least once a year for the foreseeable future. Gotta give the readers what they want!
6) How many books have you sold?
Oh my gosh… I don’t know, honestly. I haven’t kept as much track of this as I should have! I do know I’ve sold more than 120,000 copies of The Sekhmet Bed, which was my first novel and the first book in The She-King series, since it was first published in 2011. Not bad for a self-published book!
7) Can you share your writing process with us?
I outline most of my books before I write them–and I’ve written a book about my outlining process, too, called Take Off Your Pants. A lot of writers have found the book helpful, I’m happy to say.
But once I have a book outlined, I have a pretty simple approach to the writing itself. I start at the beginning and take it one chapter at a time. I’ve never been able to skip around and write chapters out of sequence, though I know that works for some authors. I have to go in order, from the beginning to the end.
Once I have a first draft finished, it’s off to one of my editors, and we work together to revise it and polish it up.
8) How do you promote your books?
I find direct email subscription services, like BookBub, Freebooksy, and Fussy Librarian, the most effective way of promoting. I have a couple of series written, with more planned for the future, and I find it’s most cost-effective to occasionally run specials (99 cents or free) on the first book in a series and promote the special through those email services.
I also do more subtle forms of promotion, such as remaining active on social media and interacting with a lot of readers, book bloggers, and fellow authors that way. I don’t actively try to sell my books on social media–I’m just there, being myself, reminding people I exist. 🙂
9) Which authors and books have most influenced you?
Hillary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series (which starts with Wolf Hall) is probably my most influential work when it comes to historical fiction. I’m a prose junkie and I really love to soak up beautiful, rich, lavish writing, so I’m also into Vladimir Nabokov, Michael Ondaatje, Annie Dillard, and an author I’ve recently discovered, Natalee Caple. Plus I get a lot of inspiration and influence from music (even though I can’t listen to any music while I write!)… I find good lyrics very inspiring, too. Neko Case is the songwriter who has had the most influence over my book-writing.
In terms of storytelling, I love to look outside the “book box” and observe story in its other forms. I learned a lot from the very clever use of the most standard and archetypal story forms in the musical “The Book of Mormon,” written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and I love reading web comics for other reminders of how to convey story via media other than prose. The comic Achewood by Chris Onstad is an excellent story vehicle.
10) This might be difficult, but have you written any sentence that you believe is your best till now?
I don’t think I could pick just one sentence! But I’m enormously happy with my novel Baptism for the Dead. I think it’s my best writing so far and I believe it will be hard to top!
11) What are you releasing next?
It’s a little hard to say for sure what I’ll release next. I have two different historical novels on deck, but both are being considered by two different imprints of Amazon Publishing. So it depends on what gets accepted and what is passed over. 🙂 But my next release will either be about Calamity Jane, another ancient Egyptian book, or about Emma Hale Smith, the first wife of Joseph Smith, who founded the Mormon church.
12) Anything you would like to add?
Keep writing, people! 🙂
A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” releases shortly. Click here to download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free.