Let’s welcome best-selling author Pamela Fagan Hutchins and chit-chat with her about various aspects of writing!
- Congratulations on your book release, Pamela! Please tell us what has been your most rewarding experience as an author?
Recently, I’ve coached other novelists who have gone on to experience joy and success from their writing. While I have loved and continue to love each and every review I get, awards that my books receive, and emails and letters and Facebook posts and blog comments and every other heart-warming contact with readers, I am shocked to find how much I enjoy helping other writers achieve their best writing in their stories, and find their own readers.
- That’s fantastic. I agree, that giving back is highly rewarding. Please tell us, how much research do you do for your books?
I do tons of research for my books. Everything from culture, geography, food, and religion to current and historical events, legal and criminal procedure, and mythology. For Hell to Pay I researched on following topics:
- The Native American Hopi tribe and its vision question/spirit animal tradition.
- Lake Meredith and the Colorado river basin in West Texas.
- Diabetic comas: types, symptoms, treatment, and recovery.
- Religious cults.
- The process and rules for adoption in Texas.
- Crime scene procedure in multi-jurisdictional situations.
- The process of arrest, charging, arraignment and bail in a first-degree murder case.
- Snake handling as a part of religious tradition, especially in the Southern U.S.
- The professional rodeo circuit.
I really enjoy the research aspect of writing. I want desperately to get it right, for my stories to ring with authenticity.
- How do you go about developing characters of your book?
Most of them occur pretty organically. But it starts with storyboarding with my story partner, my husband. We discuss plot lines and character arcs for years, I write them in outlines, ultimately I draft them into novels, and then I send them right back to him and we do post-writing storyboarding. Sometimes a character is way, way off in a first draft. I’ll go back to the drawing board and ask myself what characteristics define this character, what events have shaped them, and what is in and out of character for them. Ideally, for a protagonist, you then want to put them to the test in every single scene, ratcheting up the tension and pressure on them and seeing how they react. As much as I storyboard and plan, though, sometimes the story and characters take on a life of their own. It’s a lot of fun when that happens, and some of my most authentic characterization comes from just letting them have their way!
- Dialogues are important in fiction. Do you want to share any tip for writing dialogues?
Dialogue needs to be authentic and it needs to be concise. Authenticity means that it sounds exactly like that character would say it. Concise means that you take that, and you make it shorter.
I am writing a What Doesn’t Kill You prequel novella right now. Six different protagonists in alternative points of view tell it. I’m killing myself on voice and dialogue in this one, making sure that readers will know who said what whether I tell them who it is or not.
The way I check my dialogue by reading it aloud, in character. My husband finds this quite humorous. I walk through the scenes and do the accents and body language.
- I agree, reading the dialogues out loud is a good practice. Thanks for all the tips on writing! Before you go, tell us which scene in your book is your favorite? Why?
In Hell to Pay, my favorite scene is where Emily reluctantly displays her snake handling skills for her fiancé Jack and his parents. I love it because it shows her conflicted relationship with her past and her parents, at the same time as she is totally tough and brave and doing something most of us would never in a million years do.
Pamela’s Book Links:
Pamela’s Website: http://pamelafaganhutchins.com