Today I’m talking with TL Hines (Tony for short) concerning his new book Walking Lazarus. I received a pre-publication copy of this book, but unfortunately I haven’t read it yet . . . not because I didn’t want to. My fourteen-year-old daughter snagged it first. Then my husband. They both loved the book! Now, I need to hurry before my 17-year-old finds it.
One cool thing I discovered about Tony is that he grew up about ten miles from where I live. He promised to stop by and visit our family on his next trip up here. Until then, I thought I’d ask him some questions via email. And since his answers were so interesting, I thought I’d share:
1) Tony, cool book. How did you get the idea for Waking Lazarus?
I love answering this question, because there are actually a couple of interesting stories behind the book. Interesting to me, anyway. First, when I was very young–about five years old–I went icefishing with my uncle at Lake Five (near Glacier National Park) and fell through the ice. My uncle pulled me out of the lake before I drowned, but the shock of that moment always stayed with me.
Fast forward a couple decades, to my time at the University of Montana in Missoula. One of my odd jobs while working my way through college was University janitor, and I cleaned the Chem/Pharm building–including, for a time, the cadaver storage room. Whenever I was in that room late at night by myself, my overactive imagination always pictured one of the corpses suddenly sitting up.
Those two separate images–a boy falling through the ice and drowning, and a corpse sitting up in a morgue–combined to give me the opening scenes for WAKING LAZARUS. The rest of the story fell into place, and I had a novel about a man who has died and returned to life three times.
2) Tell me about your writing process.
Right now, I work my “day job” as Creative Director at an advertising agency, so my writing time is two early morning hours each day–roughly 5:00 to 7:00 am. I always, always put on my iPod while I write; something about the influence of music helps get the creative juices flowing for me, and helps me stay in that “other world” I’m working on. In the age-old outlining vs. seat-of-the-pants debate, I’m solidly both.
I’ve outlined novels, and found the outlining really helped me stay focused and on task. I’ve gone SOTP for others, and ended up taking about twice as much time–but ended up with what I feel are better, more unpredictable stories. So I see strengths of both approaches, which is how I developed my own method.
First, I write every story as a screenplay, which comes in at roughly 100 pages and gives me key dialogue and scenes. Then, I use that screenplay as my novel outline, adding meat to the structure. This lets me “discover” the story as I write the screenplay, but also gives me focus and direction for the first draft of the novel.
3) Sounds like a cool way to write. Now that the book is on store shelves (hint, hint to all you readers out there.) What is your greatest hope when readers pick up this novel?
You know, for me, the greatest thing that can happen is the reader loves the story. That’s it. If the novel helps someone escape from the “real world” for a few hours, I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. I don’t primarily see my writing as a ministry; I see it as escapist entertainment. However, a lot of my views and thoughts about faith naturally work their way into what I write.
I think (I hope) readers who look behind the metaphors may find something more to chew on, if that’s what they’re after. But that’s not necessary. If someone enjoys it just because she connected with the story, I’m happy.
4) That works for me! Now, what can readers expect next from TL Hines?
I’m working on my second book for Bethany House, tentatively called VALLEY OF SHADOW and scheduled to release Summer of 2007. It’s about a woman who hears her dead father’s voice speaking to her from the shadows. He tells her the spirits of the dead occupy the shadows of our world, and recruits her into a secret government network that communicates with the shadow operatives. But nothing is as it seems; soon, she finds out the true nature of the shadows–as well as what they want.
So it’s a nice, solid prairie romance in the tradition of fellow Bethany House authors Janette Oke and Beverly Lewis.
Ha! a guy with a sense of humor too. I love it! If you’d like to find out more, the Amazon page is – http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764202049
His blog is – http://www.tlhines.com/blog/ (And I have to say that his publicity materials on his blog are TO DIE FOR!)