Because I work with young writers, I read a lot of YA fiction. So, I am excited today to be hosting Bonnie Hearn Hill, who is releasing Aries Rising, her first in the Star Crossed series (a teen series.)
Bonnie Hearn Hill worked as a newspaper editor for 22 years, a job that, along with her natural nosiness, increased her interest in contemporary culture. Prior to her new Star Crossed series from Running Press/Perseus Books, she wrote six thrillers for MIRA Books, as well as numerous short stories, nonfiction books and articles.
An interest in astrology along with her close friendship with Cosmo Magazine Astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper inspired the Star Crossed series: Aries Rising, Taurus Eyes, and Gemini Night.
A national conference speaker, Bonnie founded The Tuesdays, a bonded and successful writing workshop in Fresno, California, and she also teaches an occasional online class. On Fridays she meets with her private critique group (humorous astrology author Hazel Dixon-Cooper, prescriptive nonfiction writer Dennis C. Lewis, mystery novelist Sheree Petree, and musician/thriller novelist Christopher Allen Poe). What happens in those groups ranges from spontaneous applause to “getting filleted,” as Bonnie’s students and colleagues call it.
If you’re interested in YA fiction, astrology or both, this interview is not to be missed!
You’ll have double the chances of winning a copy of Bonnie’s book: Aries Rising. TODAY: Leave a comment or question on this blog post and again on March 16, leave another comment or question on WriteLikeCRAZY (where young writers gather) when Bonnie guest posts! One Lucky winner will be selceted and announced on both blogs March 17.
Interview by: Mary Jo Campbell
MJC: Bonnie, your writing resume is lengthy and impressive, ranging from the journalism world to published thrillers and now a trilogy for YA: when did you realize you wanted to expand your palate as a writer? How do you transition between your genres?
BHH: I don’t think about genre. I think about story, and most of all, I think about characters. I play the what-if game. I’m an organic writer, and because I was interested in the younger woman/older man scenario, I wrote what I called IT NEVER RAINS IN CALIFORNIA, a story about politics and power. It was published as INTERN and marketed as a political thriller.
MJC: Jumping from seductive thrillers to YA fiction definitely takes some gear shifting. How do research or stay current on teen-speak, dress and gestures in order to write a realistic teen character?
BHH: I don’t think I wrote seductive thrillers. INTERN was about politics, sex, and power, a world I knew all too well. KILLER BODY was about women and weight loss, another world I experienced the hard way. As a Gemini, I feel as young today as I did when I was a teen. I am probably the oldest person on the planet who subscribes to Seventeen magazine and reads the teen blogs. I also mentor teen writers. Besides, remember—you don’t have to speak for all teens or all women or all African Americans (as when I wrote my slave short story, “Part Light, Part Memory.”) You write only one person, and you wear this person. You are this person.
MJC: I love that Aries Rising (and all books in this YA trilogy) were inspired by astrology. Can you tell us about the research you did to prepare this series?
BHH: My very best friend is Hazel Dixon-Cooper, who has written the Cosmopolitan magazine astrology column. When she joined my writing workshop many years ago, she was a hospital secretary. I am going to copy her on this, in case she wants to add something. Her first book deal was six figures for two books. Because we are in the same critique group, Hazel has taught me much about astrology. I am not an astrologer. She is. If you really want to learn astrology, you need to read her books.
MJC: I’m fascinated with astrology. Can you tell us how your astrological sign helps or hinders you as a writer? (By the way, I’m a Scorpio, any advice?)
BHH: Don’t hold on to past pain or dysfunction. Let it go. Most of all, speak. Speak your truth. Some Scorpios have problems with facing the truth and speaking it. Some are too secretive. To you, I would say, once you speak the truth about something, it no longer owns you. You are free. Scorpio is a Water sign, so you may dwell too much in the past. However, if you have a Moon in a Fire or Air sign, you could be lighter.
MJC: What tips can you offer teachers trying to share the love of creative writing with their students?
BHH: I would suggest giving grades/points/whatever in two areas. Give them points for getting it down honestly. Then give them points for execution. There are people in your classroom who don’t know where to put the commas, but they may have the best stories. Why not reward both the scholarly and the street smart? You’ll have more honesty and more love of the process.
MJC: Tell us what is next in your writing and promotion projects!
BHH: I have three Star Crossed teen novels publishing this year. A Gemini always has something else on the back burner. Right now, I’m just stirring the pot. I’m really happy so many of your readers have entered the contest for the books and the iPod*.
Learn more about Bonnie Hearn Hill:
The Star Crossed Series
Aries Rising, March 2010
Taurus Eyes, Summer 2010
Gemini Night, Fall 2010
or follow her blog tour with WOW! Women On Writing.
*31 Days of Aries