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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Author Interview: Ginger Hanson


The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Ginger Hanson, whose latest book Feather's Last Dance was released in May. I asked her to tell us a little about the book.

As a teen, Faith Featherstone made two mistakes. One gets her pregnant, the second lands her in juvenile detention. Eager to do what’s best for all, Faith gives her son to her barren sister. Faith believes she has found the perfect solution. Matthew, will have two loving parents, she will be a part of his life, and he will know his biological father, because her sister is married to the father’s brother. Her only request? Be named Matthew’s legal guardian.

Five years later, the unthinkable occurs. Her sister and brother-in-law disappear at sea in a sailing accident. Now Faith fears her shameful past will cost her custody of her son. If Justin Worthington is willing to go to court for custody of the boy he believes to be his nephew, what will he do when he discovers the boy is his son?
I asked Ginger what got her interested in writing.

"I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure learning how to print opened the door. Cursive put me into a whole new realm because I could connect the letters and write even faster," she said. "Seriously, my parents were major readers so we always had lots of books in the house. There were plenty of children’s books for us to read and they fueled my imagination. I can’t remember a time in my life when I did not write something, be it stories or letters or articles."

She wrote her first story, "The Magic Tea Tray," when she was nine years old, but assured me, "I’m unwilling to reveal the exact number of years that have passed since that eventful day."

She has several favorite authors and Ginger admitted that narrowing them down to one favorite is difficult. In the Regency realm, she's consistently followed Barbara Metgzer's writing.

"I love her stream of consciousness humor, her fast pace, as well as the delightful characters she creates," Ginger explained.

"What come first," I wondered, "the plot or the characters?"

"Hmmm, that’s difficult for me to answer because it depends on the book. With Lady Runaway, it started with a scene so I imagine that would fall in the plotting category. I just had this image of a woman being knifed in an alley in Regency London. I built the whole book off that image, asking myself why would she be in the alley? How could I save her? With Ransom’s Bride, my second Civil War novel, it was the character. What if a younger sister, who is in love with her older sister’s fiancĂ©, gets the opportunity to marry him?"

Most of Ginger's books end up having several titles. The working title is drawn from some aspect or theme in the manuscript and helps her to focus. It also gives the story a sense of substance. She tries not to get attached to the working title, however, because publishers often change them.

"For example, my first book ended up with the title Tennessee Waltz courtesy of someone at Kensington who I seriously doubt even saw the manuscript," she said. "It was a Southern novel with some scenes in Tennessee and, voilá, title was born. Using that criteria, it could also have been called New York Quadrille or Texas Two Step! Yes, it was a love on the run novel with the heroine and hero traveling to those three states. While I admit my title, D’Angleo’s Destiny, wasn’t the best one, at least it had something to do with the story!"

Lady Runaway, Ginger's first Regency, was called Captain Devlin’s Doxy for most of its unpublished life. Her agent wanted to freshen it up with a new title and when Ginger suggested Lady Runaway, the agent liked it.

"When I went solo and decided to submit LR to a small press, I was delighted that Lida Quillen of Twilight Times Books loved the title and kept it. So far, my editor at The Wild Rose Press has like the titles of my contemporary books. I accidentally fell into a way to link them because I was using the heroine’s names in the working titles."

The first book in the series with The Wild Rose Press is titled Feather's Last Dance. It's set in Tassanoxie, Alabama. She's recently signed a contract for the second book in the series, Ellie's Song. She has more Tassanoxie stories in the wings.

I asked Ginger about her writing space.

"Disorganized chaos with books to the right, books to the left, books behind me. I’m fenced in by a computer, its peripherals and two desks. One is a lovely library desk that has traveled all over the United States with me and the other is a stark utility computer desk. On the wall above my computer screens is a bulletin board covered with character and place photos from my current works in progress as well as clip art, cut and paste 'covers' for all my unpublished manuscripts."

She actually wanted to be a foreign correspondent, not an author, when she was growing up. To reach that goal, she studied journalism, French, and Spanish in high school and college. She has written some freelance newspaper articles, but that's the extent of her correspondent career.

"And no, I’m not really fluent in any language other than English!" she admitted.

On a personal note, Ginger shared with me that the only time she and her husband haven't had at least one dog was while they were stationed in Germany, many years ago. She also tends to put dogs into her stories even if it’s only a reference to one!

"We haven’t rescued as many dogs as some folks, but we were doing it long before it became fashionable," she told me.

I asked her if she could tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi. She admitted she can, even though she doesn't drink either.

"When I was a little girl we lived on a Mediterranean island called Malta. In the summer the water table became too salty for drinking and we were told to drink Cokes which were delivered to our house by a truck. The pallets were stored beneath the stairs leading to the living area on the second floor. My brothers and I thought we were in heaven and drank Coke by the gallon. Fortunately, my dad was diagnosed with TB and was sent stateside before our tour ended and we left Malta. I say fortunately because we arrived in Malta with great teeth and returned stateside with lots of cavities. So yes, I haven’t had a Coke since I was a kid and I can distinguish between Coke and Pepsi, which I prefer."

Finally, I asked Ginger, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"

"Believe in yourself and develop a tough skin as early as you can. Few of us win contracts for our first book. Even if someone does, look into their background and you will generally discover some type of apprenticeship, be it in journalism, screenwriting, or a creative writing program. Be prepared for rejection. It hurts, but it’s part of this business. Even if an editor falls in love with your first book (yes, it happens, just not to me), there will be readers and reviewers who think it’s a waste of time. You can’t please everyone all the time. Concentrate on learning your craft and writing the best book you can."
You can keep up with Ginger on her website, http://www.GingerHanson.com

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