Gerri, thank you so much for taking time to answer some questions for members of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Facebook group.
Let’s start off with, where do you live?
I live in East Texas in a very conservative part of the state! Some of my books take place in the area, including the very early Behind the Pine Curtain and one of my most recent ones, Keepers of the Cave.
As you probably know, writers rarely like to toot their own horns…lol, but what would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
Just being published for the first time stands out as a significant point in my life. Now, twenty-four books later, it’s almost surreal. Having some of those books be nominated (and win) for writing awards is something I’m most proud of.
Without getting too personal, would you share a little about your home life?
My partner and I live on five acres in the “woods”! I have recently retired from higher education so I no longer have an hour commute to work each day. That has certainly changed my “home life”. I can now write when I want to instead of cramming in writing sessions before work, after work, and any other time I could grab a spare minute! I enjoy being outside and I have a vegetable garden that takes up way too much time but it’s very therapeutic. We have what we call a “garden cabin” and I spend a lot of time on that deck with my laptop! I couldn’t imagine having a better office in which to write….I can watch the birds at the feeders, listen to the sound of their calls, the smell of the pines, the sensory overload from the greenness of the woods…it’s all very relaxing and it’s my favorite place to work. And not to sound too much like a hermit, but we normally close and lock the gate on Friday evening and don’t open it up again until Monday morning. Our home life is definitely staying “home”!
Do you fly by the seat of your pants when writing or plot out your storylines in detail?
It depends. For the most part, I don’t use outlines. Or if I do, it’s very crude. I find them a waste for me because I rarely follow them! There are certain details of a story that I want to make sure I hit, so those will be written down. Mostly….fly by the seat of my pants!
Have had you ever had to deal with homophobia after your lesbian novels are released, and if so, what forms has it taken?
No, not at all. I’ve always had very positive responses.
Can you share what inspires and challenges you most in your writing?
That’s hard to answer. A lot of my preliminary work is done while I’m out walking in the woods or sitting on a fallen tree. I find inspiration there. I always have. And after twenty-four books, the biggest challenge is keeping them fresh and new. Characters need to stand on their own and not be too similar to another that readers confuse them. That’s a challenge when writing about strong, independent women . . . finding traits in each that separate them from the others.
You have three lesbian mystery series going; Ross and Sullivan, Johnston and Riley and the Hunter series. How do you prepare when starting a new book in the series? How do you keep the series fresh and exciting, especially where romance is involved?
I will usually go back and read the previous book (or at least skim it) to get a feel for the voices again. That’s especially true if it’s been a while between books. In Keepers of the Cave and Weeping Walls (CJ Johnston and Paige Riley), they were written only one book apart so that wasn’t difficult to maintain each character’s personality. I’m currently working on a cross-over with Tori and Sam from Hunter’s Way and Cameron and Andrea (Ross and Sullivan from Devil’s Rock/Hell’s Highway). There are three books in the Hunter Series and two with Ross and Sullivan. It has been several years since I’ve visited Tori and Sam so I had to go back and read those to get a feel for the characters again. So far it’s been a challenge to juggle all four characters!!
Keeping the series fresh is as simple as keeping the story fresh! It’s more difficult when romance is involved because usually the initial romance takes place in the first book and it takes up more of their time. Subsequent books deal more with the mystery than the romance, although having their relationship grow into something deeper is also a part of it.
Which living actor would you cast to portray lesbian FBI agents CJ Johnston and Paige Riley, and why?
I get asked this question a lot! Not just about CJ and Paige but other characters as well. Honestly, I can’t give you an answer. The vision I have of them in my head is just that…a vision of them and not of some actress I’ve seen on TV or in the movies. And my vision of them might be completely different than what my readers may see!
Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Of course! I’m not sure how many of them I’d like to share however. Okay…I’ll give you one: I love old Steven Seagal movies!
Last question; can you share with us a little about your current release and/or WIP?
Weeping Walls was just released this past December (Jon-which has been #1 Best Seller in Gay & Lesbian Mystery on Amazon since release; congratulations!), the sequel to Keepers of the Cave. I have a romance coming out in July, The Midnight Moon. I call it a “fun, summer romance” and I hope my readers think so as well! As I said earlier, I’m currently working on Angel Fire, a mystery that involves Tori Hunter and Sam Kennedy and Cameron Ross and Andrea Sullivan. It’s due to be released in late December.
On behalf of the Facebook Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction Group, thank you for giving us a little of your time today, answering questions fans of the genre want to know.
It was my pleasure! Thank you!
Find Gerri Hill on the web: www.gerrihill.com