Showing posts with label Gwen Hunter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gwen Hunter. Show all posts

23 July 2012

My Friend Gwen (AKA Gary, AKA Faith)

Gwendolyn Faith Hunter Now
by Fran Rizer

A couple of posts ago, I expounded on pen names with primary emphasis on pseudonyms themselves.  Just as interesting as the fictitious names used by some writers of fiction is the WHY of the pseudonyms.

In Victorian times, females wrote under male names because of ideas about appropriate activities for women. More recently, Jeanne Rowling published under J. K. Rowling because her editor thought boys would be more likely to read books they thought were written by a man. Stephen King published under a pen name because he wrote too quickly for his publisher's concept of how often he should be published. Why has the blonde author pictured to the right been published under three different names?  I'm going to tell you, but first, the backstory.

A few years ago, I was leaving B&N one evening when I noticed a well-dressed lady sitting at a small table with books stacked on it.  Being my usual nosy self, I stopped to talk with her, and since her books were paperback, I bought a couple.  At that time, she was signing books in her Rhea Lynch series published by Mira Books.  I learned later that she'd already had a number of mystery/thrillers published both in the USA and abroad.  Her name was Gwen Hunter.

The story of how  Gwen first published mysteries sounds like a fairy tale. Gwen had known she wanted to write way back in tenth grade, but she played it safe and earned a degree in the health field. She met Officer Gary Leveille in the ER while working.  With his experience in law enforcement and Gwen's writing ability, they collaborated on two police procedurals under the pen name Gary Hunter.  Okay, I know you're wondering, "What's so fairy tale about that?

Thse Second Gary Hunter
The fairy tale part comes when they sent their first manuscript directly to publishers since they had no agent.  This was before electronic submissions, so it was hard copy.   Here's the fairy tale fantasy part of the story--the book was picked up out of the slush pile and published by Warner Books!

When I met Gwen that night in B&N, she was writing under the name most folks called her--Gwen Hunter.  She'd already published the DeLande Saga series--three books that had been translated into several languages and published worldwide.  She was now signing Rhea Lynch books--a thriller series about a small town female physician.


 Gwen Not Long After I Met Her
Gwen and I became friends, and she mentored me a lot about writing and being published. I learned from her when I attended seminars and festivals where she spoke as well as personally when I asked questions in person or by email.  She grew up in the Louisiana Bayou country but now lives in Rock Hill, SC, only an hour or so from my home in Columbia. 

Some of what I learned from Gwen:

Most beginners start their stories too soon. She threw away the first ten pages of the first manuscript I showed her. I took her words to heart almost to the extreme as I now try to murder someone in the first few pages.

If backstory is necesssary, spread it throughout instead of writing "info dumps."

Name characters carefully.  Unless writing about identical twins who may have been named in rhyming or an alliterative manner intentionally, use  distinctive names that won't be confused. 

When paranormal stories began growing in popularity, Gwen wanted to try her hand (actually her computer) at writing  post-apocalyptical dark fantasy. For personal and professional reasons, she didn't want to write these under the same name as her thrillers.  She chose to use her middle name and became Faith Hunter when she wrote the three novels in the Rogue Mage series and future paranormal. 



The Newest Jane Yellowrock
Signings were a hoot during this time.  Since both the thrillers and the Mage books were selling, she appeared at first as well-dressed, professional-looking Gwen Hunter, then appeared later in the day as Faith Hunter, who had a gypsy flair about her with long wigs, colorful floor-length skirts, and lots of jewelry.  She fooled  a lot of people who didn't realize the two Hunter writers were both the same lady.

Although she wrote several paranormals and developed a role-playing game, when Faith really hit the big-time with paranormal was when she began the Jane Yellowrock series.  Jane is a shape-shifting skinwalker and vampire hunter. Faith Hunter has made the New York Times Bestseller List with Jane Yellowrock, and she has shed her double identity.  Thriller fans still know her as Gwen while paranormal fans know her as Faith, but we all know she's the same extremely talented writer.

Faith has the same urge to assist beginning writers that she had as Gwen. When I asked her what I could do for her since she'd been so helpful to me, she said, "Pay it forward."   She's a founding member of the blog www.http,MagicalWords.net   For more info about Gary, Gwen, Faith, see www.http.FaithHunter.net, and check the Internet for additional listings and Wikipedia.

Until we meet again. . .take care of YOU.

17 October 2011

Speaking of Lists & Series


by Fran Rizer

Recently I discovered a wonderful Internet site that displays the top 100 songs of each decade. I enjoyed traveling back in time, listening to favorite old melodies, even singing and dancing along with some of them. This led to a site about "One Hit Wonders," the songs by artists who had big hits with one song and were never heard from again.

One Hit Wonders exist in the world of literature also. For starters, can anyone name anything else written by Margaret Mitchell? Gone with the Wind is the only work that comes to mind. Same for Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and let's not forget Grace Metalious's Peyton Place.

I didn't find many One Hit Wonder mysteries. Googling 100 Best Mysteries of All Time (there are several lists, including one by MWA in 1995), I found that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie, Dashiell Hammett, and Robert Chandler were consistently in the top ten, and most authors on the list had written several successful mysteries. I also discovered that some books on that list were ones I wouldn't necessarily classify as mystery. To Kill a Mockingbird appears as number 60, making it one of the few mystery One Hit Wonders, though personally, I've always thought of it as straight literary. (Maybe we need a genre called "literary mystery." And please don't email me about the plot to explain the mystery classification. I almost know that novel by heart; I just never think of it as a mystery book.)


Mary Higgins Clark not appearing until number 50 was a surprise, but she'd probably hit somewhere higher if the list were made now in 2011. Dracula by Bram Stoker came in at number 70 showing what a broad approach was taken on the MWA list. I have no intention of linking the lists nor copying them, but they're interesting and easy enough to Google.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is number one on all the lists I checked. He created the Sherlock Holmes series. Most favorite current mystery writers have series. What's important in a series is an intriguing protagonist involved in tightly woven plots. (Who'd'a thought that?) James Patterson has detective Alex Cross; Patricia Cornwell, medical examiner Kay Scarpetta; Janet Evanovich, sassy Stephanie Plum; Alexander McCall Smith, employees of No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency; Jeffery Deaver, criminologist Lincoln Rhyme; and Sue Grafton, fast, fun detective Kinsey Milhone. (BTW, Grafton is on the list.)
My old friend Mickey Spillane is on the list, too. He created several series characters. My favorite will always be Mike Hammer though he's not someone I'd want to know personally, and, though fascinating, Mickey wasn't at all like Mike when I knew him.

Gwen Hunter, my mentor of long ago, told me my protagonists should never be perfect, but always have weaknesses, either physical or mental. I'd planned to name a few of those until Janice Law's "Desperately Seeking Detectives" a few blogs ago. She said it better than I would have, so to quote Janice, "Of course, every detective needs a weakness and here, again, the profession has been creative. The old broken heart (Lord Peter Wimsey) and alcohol problems (Philip Marlowe) have been greatly expanded. One of Dick Francis's protagonists had a hand crippled from a racing accident. Jeffrey Deaver went several steps better with Lincoln Rhyme, his quadriplegic detective, while Jonathan Lethem gave his Lionel Essrog Tourette's syndrome,
which certainly added an original flavor to the narrative."



In today's society, most readers know their favorite series characters better than they know their next door neighbors. Sometimes readers attend launches and signings as characters from my books. Photo on the left is Charles Waldron as Cousin Chuck and Shannon Owen as Callie.

Fans also know what foods the characters eat and frequently, at library book talks, they serve refreshments of foods from the books. (They're shown on the webpage.) At the McCormick, SC, library, they even prepared a fake, but believable, casket with a floral spray for the speaker's stage. I brought it home with me, and it's in my storage shed.

At the Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, There's a Body in the Car book launch, Barbie Yeo came as Jane– pink glasses, mobility cane, red hair and all. The photo below right is Barbie as Jane and Fran as Fran. So far, no one has appeared at a signing as Callie's dad, but I'm waiting for the day since Callie describes him as "a sixty-ish Larry the Cable Guy."


Why is my mind on series characters today? Because I've begun a new series and am busy developing the protagonist so that I know every facet of her life. Tamar Myers, author of the Magdelena full-board inn (for heaven's sake, don't call it a B&B) series as well as the Den of Antiquity series, told me that she sketches her characters and hangs the drawings around the computer while she writes. With drawing skills limited to pleasing elementary school children, I don't attempt to draw my characters. I do, however, sometimes clip pictures from magazines when I spot my exact mental image of one of my people.

I'll introduce you to my new series stars, Stella Hudson and her daughter Billie Estelle, a few blogs from now. Meanwhile, see if you can guess what Stella's weakness or flaw is. Submit your answer through Comments when you answer the question of the day below. (Yes, there will be prizes, and no, Leigh and Velma can't guess Stella's weakness because I've already told both of them.) When the winners are determined, I'll announce them in Comments and tell how to submit private instructions for me to forward prizes.

Speaking of contests, last spring, I won the Criminal Brief contest for a year's subscription to Pages of Stories Magazine. The Autumn, 2011, issue came out this week, and I've read it start to finish. Let me call your attention to two of the wonderful stories in this issue: Continuation of "Untenable" by our own Leigh Lundin and "The Door Between Mary," a ghost story you need to read before Halloween by my good friend J. Michael Shell. Visit Pages of Stories website to learn more about this magazine which publishes quality fiction from all over the world.

Until we meet again, take care of YOU.


TODAY'S QUESTION:

What did rocker Jerry
Lee Lewis and author
Edgar Allan Poe have
in common?