Talkshow Thursday: Sarah Hamaker
Linda: Thanks for joining me today. You write both fiction and non-fiction. How is the process for writing both genres the same for you? Different?
SARAH: Totally different! For fiction, I have a general idea where the story’s going, but let the characters “tell” me what’s going to happen next. For nonfiction, I follow a more specific outline.
LM: How do you decide what project to work on next?
SARAH: It depends on if I have any contracts. Naturally, I’m working on projects that have a firm deadline over projects that might not have found a publishing home yet. It’s always good practice to fulfill your obligations first, then write what you want.
LM: Research is an important part of the writing process. What are some of the ways you have researched your books?
SARAH: I’ve based my fiction books so far where I live, and so I use my own knowledge of the geography, plus Google maps to fill in the gaps. The Internet can be so wonderful to look up quick facts and find statistics, but it can be difficult to make sure you’re looking at reputable sites and not getting sidetracked down too many rabbit holes. I also belong to a crime-writing listserv, where I can ask technical questions to make sure my romantic suspense novels are as accurate as possible.
LM: How do you balance working from home with the chaos and activity that can be associated with family?
SARAH: Now that all of my four kids are in school, it’s a little easier to put in the hours with just my cats for company (although they can be rather needy at times too!). But I’ve also been purposeful with my time and have learned to say no in order to meet my deadlines. Also, by thinking about my writing as a business and not a hobby, I guard my writing time and structure my day in order to have time for both my freelance writing clients and my book projects. If you don’t think of yourself as having a writing career—whether or not you’re published—you will find it easier to put off writing or let your writing time be consumed with other projects.
LM: What advice do you have for fledgling writers?
SARAH: Write every day! And stick with it for the long haul. I’m still learning what I don’t know about writing. Have a teachable spirit, and for writers, that means, have an editable spirit, one that takes feedback on your work and seriously considers the merits of the suggested changes. No one writes perfectly the first draft (or second, third, …), and learning how to receive critiques will help you grow in your writing a lot faster than if you don’t.
LM: Here are some quickies:
Favorite vacation spot: It’s a tie between East Machias, Maine, and Sanibel Island, Fla.
Favorite childhood book: Nancy Drew, the original 1930s editions
LM: What are you currently working on?
SARAH: The first of a planned romantic suspense trilogy.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?