TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Hanna: Quirk? Everything I do is perfectly normal! In all seriousness, I'm not sure. Most of my quirks I've accepted and adopted as part of my creative process. I draft best on my laptop in really noisy places with lots of activity, like restaurants or coffee shops. I love white noise and can't write to music with words. I only edit on paper, and I can only input those paper edits on my desktop computer, which is located in a windowless basement office I have named The Cave.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Hanna: I view J.R. Ward and Suzanne Brockmann's novels as a master class on deep point of view. Harper Fox's atmospheric prose is to die for. Ann Aguirre's sense of story pacing is incomparable. I like to think each of these talented women has influenced my writing, but really all I'm doing is praying to be like them one day.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Hanna: I'm a pretty serious plotter, but I leave lots of wiggle room for pantsing as I go along. Stuff continually changes. I never marry anything--that was such an important and difficult rule to learn in my process. When I clung to certain characters or plot points or turns of phrase, I realized I was trying to fit square pegs into round holes. When I learned to let the story direct itself, rather than me shoving it into places it didn't want to go, my plotting and pantsing became amiable bedfellows.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Hanna: The phase after I bang out my complete zero draft is when I take a critical eye to the flow of the story, the character arcs and the general plot issues. The zero draft is a sloppy mess of backstory, random scenes, clunky dialogue, telling instead of showing, etc. There are incomplete paragraphs, scenes, even sentences. Revising the zero draft is always a major overhaul to the book, and after the high of completing a full manuscript, it is always daunting and makes me feel like the world is meaningless and full of pain. It's a huge struggle to rewrite at this stage, but once I get over the hump, it becomes a major triumph.
TQ: Describe Liquid Lies in 140 characters or less.
Hanna: Hot, ex-military mercenary with shaved head has got it bad for the smart, driven water-magic sorceress he's been hired to kidnap.
TQ: What inspired you to write Liquid Lies?
Hanna: A single scene just came to me one day: A human mercenary who'd been hired to kidnap a woman with magic was being ripped away from her, calling into question everything he'd believed about his life. That scene doesn't exactly appear in the final book, but it was the bullseye from which I built the story outward.
When I was devising my heroine's system of magic, I was thinking about characters who were the complete opposite of myself. I had also just come from working a decade in an office, so that culture was pretty ingrained in my mind. I made my heroine a driven corporate climber and a water elemental. I did not enjoy the business world and I'm absolutely terrified of water. It seemed like a fun and challenging thing to explore, and lo, my heroine and her magical world were born.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Liquid Lies?
Hanna: I had to look up the depths of the U.S.'s deepest lakes. (Crater Lake is #1, Lake Tahoe #2, in case you're wondering.) I did a lot with maps, trying to figure out distances between states and cities, and planning routes. The rest came from my head.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Hanna: Gwen, my heroine, was the easiest to write. Probably because my early drafts of this book were entirely in her first-person point of view. I had her pretty well figured out, and when I know a character that in depth, he/she comes out on the page fairly easily. Xavier was the most difficult, because his story was just so sad and painful to get out. Taking him from where he is when the story opens to where he is when it ends--with a limited number of POV chapters--was a challenge. But a good one.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Liquid Lies?
Hanna: I love Gwen and Reed's first kiss. The emotion fueling it isn't what you'd expect, and I love how they come at it with completely different mindsets. Originally the scene was written in Gwen's POV, but ultimately I felt it was stronger in Reed's, so I switched it.
The very last chapter is also a favorite of mine. I'm a chronic reviser/rewriter and my drafts are drastically different from one to the next, but the final chapter of LIQUID LIES (and it's a romance, so you can get some idea of how it ends) barely changed from first draft to final. It just felt right to me, from the moment it came from my fingers. I'm proud of the emotion, the dialogue, the situation, and the character connection.
TQ: What's next?
Hanna: The follow-up to LIQUID LIES, the second book in The Elementals series titled TASTE OF ICE, will release January 2013. I also have a novella, taking place in the Elementals world, that will appear in a paranormal romance anthology, tentatively titled UNBOUND, coming from Berkley Sensation (release date TBD). I love to write erotic romance, and I'll have a short story called "In the Dog House" in the anthology ONLY YOU, coming from Cleis Press (release date TBD).
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Hanna: Thank you so much for having me!
About The Elementals
Liquid LiesThe Elementals 1
Berkley, July 3, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Magic is corporate America's best-kept secret, and Gwen Carroway is the best at selling it...
With her ability to pick up any language in an instant, Gwen Carroway is taking her family business global. As dutiful future leader of water elementals, she'll do anything to protect her people's secrets and bloodlines--including enter an arranged marriage. Inside, however, she yearns for the forbidden.
Reed is a mercenary addicted to the money and adrenaline rush of his work. After he inadvertently saves Gwen's life, he ignites her taboo desire for men without magic--and with bodies of gods. Just as things heat up, Reed discovers that Gwen is exactly who he's been hired to kidnap. He resolves to put work before lust, yet her luscious beauty and fiery spirit unravel him...
But there is a terrible truth behind Gwen's family business--and now, caught between the kinsmen she no longer trusts and an enemy bent on vengeance, the only ally she has is her abductor...
Find Hanna: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Goodreads
What: One commenter will win a copy of Liquid Lies (The Elementals 1) from The Qwillery. Please note that the novel is not out until July 3, 2012.
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
If you were an Elemental, what would your element be?
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