Lori Handeland is a New York Times, USA Today, Waldenbooks and Bookscan Bestselling Author and the recipient of many industry awards, including two RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America for Best Paranormal (BLUE MOON) and Best Long Contemporary Romance (THE MOMMY QUEST), a Romantic Times Award for Best Harlequin Superromance (A SOLDIER’S QUEST), the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence, the Write Touch Readers Award, the National Readers Choice Award and the Prism Award. Her published genres include–historical, contemporary, series and paranormal romance, as well as urban fantasy and historical fantasy, and her publishers are a Who’s Who of romance and urban fantasy–Dorchester, Kensington, Harlequin, St. Martin’s Press, Harper-Collins, Simon and Schuster and Penguin/Putnam. She also publishes gritty, sexy western historical romance under the name Lori Austin.
Despite all that, she still graciously made some time to talk to us.
TH: What is The Story of Lori? An unintentional rhyme? An urban fantasy potboiler? A contemporary romance with the blank page?
LH: My story would be a hodge podge of genres, just like my books. I guess I’m easily bored.
TH: The only constant theme in your writing seems to be romance! You have Westerns, werewolves, psychics, and undead Shakespeare! Why the wide reaching themes? Do you have a favorite genre or sub-genre?
LH: I’m prolific so I like to change it up. If I didn’t, I doubt I’d still be writing 20 years after I sold my first novel. But I believe in the essential theme of romance–the promised happy ending. If I want an unhappy ending, I turn on the news. (I never turn on the news.)
My favorite sub-genre is usually the one I’m writing now, or depending on how difficult the book I’m writing now is, the one I plan to write next.
TH: What were your first serious creative impulses that led you to a creative career?
LH: I can remember sitting at a typewriter long before I knew how to type, pecking out a story about a family who went into space. (Lost in Space, with romance!) As an only child, my summers were spent with books, TV and that typewriter.
TH: Do you have any writing stuck away somewhere that will never see the light of day, but nevertheless helped you build your skills?
LH: I must have nearly 15 western historical romance proposals I wrote back in the day that never sold, but they did teach me how to write a rocking proposal. And I actually sold one of them recently.
TH: Every writer has things they would like to accomplish, e.g. first sale, next sale, first novel sale, first bestseller, etc. What accomplishment are you striving for right now?
LH: I would love to be inducted into the Romance Writers Hall of Fame. It’s a huge honor.
TH: What about the writing process most appeals to you? What is the most fun?
LH: I love rewriting, when the story is all there and I can tweak and twitch it into the shape I imagined when I started.
TH: Have your reached the point at which you realized that you had “made it” as an writer? If so, can you describe the milestone or circumstances where you had that realization? Do you recall how that felt? If not, what is the milestone you’re seeking?
LH: I don’t feel like I’ve made it yet. I wish I knew what would make me feel that way. I have no idea.
TH: Some say that artists have to look at themselves as a business, a branded commodity. Do you take that approach?
LH: I do. This is my job. I write every day. I schedule appointments after my working hours. I don’t answer the phone when I’m working. I ask myself “If I had a job outside of the house, would I be able to do that?” If the answer is no, then the answer is no.
TH: What are the most effective ways you have found to promote yourself?
LH: I’m hoping Facebook is effective, since I spend a lot of time there. An updated, engaging website helps too.
TH: Can you recall a moment when a two or more influences or inspirations came together and smacked you with a cool idea?
LH: I’d been toying with the idea of writing a western historical continuing series. I thought of it as Stephanie Plumb goes West. I started writing and about 50 pages in realized that not only is my humor dark and sarcastic, but as much as I love to read Janet Evanovich, I don’t write like Janet Evanovich. Everyone’s voice is different and should be embraced and developed for what it is. I rewrote that proposal as a western historical romance, and it became the first book in my Lori Austin “Once Upon a Time in the West” series, BEAUTY AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER.
TH: What is the most memorable moment (good, bad, or other) you have had in your life as a writer?
LH: Winning my first RITA award from Romance Writers of America for BLUE MOON. One of my best writer friends handed me the award, my husband was in the audience. It was a dream come true.
TH: I have to say, I LOVED Dead Man Dating, your contribution to Dates From Hell. When you get the opportunity to do an anthology, what is the process? How much direction/freedom were you given?
LH: Thank you!
For anthologies the publisher/editor chooses the authors–sometimes all their own authors, sometimes a few from other publishers. In the case of DATES FROM HELL, the editor at Harper/Collins had read my novel HUNTER’S MOON and enjoyed it. When she saw that the first novel in the Nightcreature Novels was a RITA finalist, she emailed to congratulate me. A few days later she called my agent and asked if I’d like to be in the Dates anthology. The only instruction we were given was to write a paranormal romance story that fit the title.
TH: So, why wolves? You have 11 Nightcreature novels plus a short story. What’s the fascination?
LH: I like wolves. They’re attractive and photogenic, from a distance. I also wanted to do something different and at the time it was all vampires, all day.
TH: If you weren’t a writer, how would you be ideally spending your days?
LH: Independently wealthy on a beach, holding a Corona and a book.
TH: What can readers expect to see from you in the near future? What are you working on?
LH: I will have a trilogy about three witch sisters released from St. Martin’s Press in June, July, August of 2015. I’m writing the second book right now.