As a special treat for today, we have an interview with Sharon Hinck, who has published 8 books in the last 9 years, including the Sword of Lyric Series. She is a life-long Lutheran and an award-winning author, honored with a Christy finalist medal, three Carol awards for her novel, and, in 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
Sharon, what has changed most for you as a writer since your first novel was published in 2006?
When I was writing my first manuscript, I had four children still at home. I’d sneak moments to write in odd places—in the margin of a program at a piano recital, on the bleachers of a soccer game, in the car while waiting for a child after school. My novels featured young moms and the challenges they face. Now that my children are grown, I have longer quieter writing times. I also find that some new themes are emerging in my story telling.
You’ve written a fantasy series and two books exploring the fantasies of a woman who would be Super Mom. Can you tell us a little about your own daydreaming and how it helps you as a writer?
An imagination can be a gift. I dream big. I find wonder in many small moments. But I can also follow a thought to worst case scenarios. Once on an airplane, my husband asked what I was thinking about. I answered, “Just going over what I have in my backpack in case we crashed on a deserted island.” Never mind that we were flying over Iowa. My mind can go to some strange places.
I also find that an ability to daydream can breathe life into characters, and that certainly helps my writing. Once the Sword of Lyric stories took hold in my imagination, I caught myself praying for the characters more than once, because they felt so real to me.
In your books about Becky Miller, what makes Becky Miller most relatable? What encouragement do you especially want people to receive from her?
She is an amalgam of my friends who are passionate about doing more—for others, for the world, for God. Mixed with that driven-ness comes an insecurity, that feeling that others are so much more put together or successful. And, sometimes exhaustion—feeling overwhelmed with caring for children, aging parents, husbands, careers, ministries. Many of the women I know can relate to those challenges. Becky Miller tackles those challenges with humor and heart, and I learned a lot from getting to know her.
Can you introduce us to the world behind the Sword of Lyric Series?
The first book was inspired by the story of Deborah in the book of Judges. I’d read many epic fantasies, usually with young men on a quest to defeat evil. I wondered if I could develop a new twist. Just as Deborah, “a mother in Israel,” rode into battle for her people, I wondered what it would be like for a modern-day mother to be pulled into an epic quest. What would her unique skills and challenges be? What would I learn about how God can use us? Those familiar with Scripture will recognize the allusions to twelve tribes, to a pre-Messianic culture waiting for a Deliverer, to clans demanding a king . . . but all set in a different universe. I think my battle with the temptation toward worry and low self-esteem took shape in the form of the “mind-poisoners” that wreak havoc in the story. After finishing this unusual story of a mom pulled into another world, I realized that isn’t as unbelievable as it sounds. We have all experienced being thrust into a world we didn’t expect—when a child has a learning disability, or a friend has cancer, or a husband loses his job. We are called upon to fill a role of “Restorer,” and allow God to use us even when we feel lost and inadequate. I hope the stories will enliven the courage readers need to face the epic adventures in their own lives.
Sharon, I really appreciate the extra features on your website: bonus scenes, musical scores from the Sword of Lyric series, and even a free e-book devotion/Bible study exploring series themes. You even have recipes and party planning tips for a Sword of Lyric themed party! What, to you, is the most fun part of being an author?
Interacting with readers. When I get an email or letter about how a specific character or scene or plot point spoke to someone’s heart, encouraged them during a struggle, or gave them a fresh insight about God’s tremendous love, I’m awed by the way God can use stories in our lives. I love being a small part of that.
You even have experience getting a book converted into an audio book! What led to that development?
My publisher pursued that. It’s been so fun to hear great actresses read the stories.
Congratulations on your awards! Can you tell us, as fellow writers, a little about how authors get nominated for awards?
For some of them, a publisher will submit works by their authors. For others, an author sends an entry form and copies of the book to be evaluated by a panel of judges.
When people approach you for professional coaching or editing, how do you decide which projects to accept?
That’s a great question. I do professional line edits for writers of all skill levels and experience when time allows, for a fee. I’ve been blessed by the many fresh and exciting voices of other authors and have a great time helping them hone their work. If I can fit it in without taking too much time from my writing work, I love to say “yes!”
Can you comment on the ideas of “faith infused” and “faith driven” writing?
Just as we each have unique gifts and callings in the the Body of Christ, Christian authors have different approaches to expressing their faith and write for different audiences. I respect the vast array. For me, the faith journeys of the characters…indeed, the character of God at work within the overarching story…are the most exciting elements, so I focus quite openly on that in all my novels. I don’t have an agenda to change anyone or preach ham-handedly through a story. I want the story to be entertaining and captivating and look authentically at the questions we all grapple with when life gets harder than we expected.
As a life-long Lutheran, how has Lutheran theology informed your writing?
We Lutherans have a wonderful emphasis on grace, and the truth that God is the only One able to save us and change us and work through us. Even though I write “Stories of the hero in all of us,” I try to show that my characters can’t depend on self-reliance or their personal virtue to overcome obstacles. Instead, they have an opportunity to discover new ways that God manifests His love in their lives in each new adventure. It is His grace that enables heroic choices. I will also confess that friends from liturgical denominations spotted my background in the way that the People of the Verses in The Restorer worshipped. Even though it’s a different universe, they used a call and response, liturgy, and hymns. LOL!
Any final words of encouragement to Lutherans who want to write?
It’s much easier to NOT write. But if you find joy in grappling with words to express your experiences, then do it! Bring God joy. He is the Creator, and we reflect Him when we create.
Thanks, Mary! It’s so fun to visit!