Thursday, January 28, 2010
Pro-File: Julie Hyzy
Pro-File: Julie Hyzy
1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).
I’d love to! My third White House Chef Mystery, Eggsecutive Orders, just came out in January. The series features chef Olivia (Ollie) Paras who feeds the First Family and occasionally saves the world. This third book is set in the week leading up to the annual White House Easter Egg Roll. Not exactly mysterious, right? But … Ollie is also dealing with the worst kind of dinner guest— a dead one. NSA head Carl Minkus keeled over while dining with the president. Turns out, he was poisoned. Now Ollie and her crew have been banished from the kitchen until their innocence can be proved.
2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
I’m currently at work writing a second book in my brand-new Manor of Murder Mysteries. The first in that series, Grace Under Pressure, will debut in June and I’ve recently jumped back into those characters’ lives to begin the second installment. My protagonist, Grace Wheaton, is the curator and director of Marshfield Manor a palatial home/museum/tourist attraction. When she arrived she thought she would have her hands full managing the estate—she had no idea she would be dragged into solving a murder and discovering that her family history holds some unsettling secrets of its own.
3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
I love writing and I find almost all of it to be incredibly gratifying. If I had to put my finger on the one greatest pleasure of a writing career, however, it would have to be creating characters. Plotting is fun, wordsmithing, while frustrating can be ultimately rewarding, but creating characters is by far the best. I love “connecting” with old friends inventing new ones. Sometimes I work very hard to put a character together exactly the way I envision, sometimes characters pop into my head fully formed and ready to play. Either way, I love every minute of it.
4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Never having enough time to get everything done. With newsletters to write, personal (and group blogs) to keep up on, websites to update, bookstores to contact, and—most importantly—relationships to maintain, I often feel pulled in fifty different directions at once. This year will be a busy one. Even though I’m no longer president of the Midwest Chapter of MWA, it’s my daughter’s senior year in high school, which means that in the fall it will be her first year in college. Lots of stuff involved with that. And even though I don’t want to miss a minute of it, I still have two books to write and promote.
5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
If someone can talk you out of being a writer, then quit now and save yourself years of pain. But if this is truly your passion, then never, ever give up. Write every day. Don’t take shortcuts. Learn everything you can and keep learning. Make good connections. Persevere.
6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?
To be honest, I have so many books in my TBR pile that I haven’t had a chance to notice who’s missing. So many wonderful books—and new ones coming out every day. I am so far behind… but what a wonderful problem to have!
7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
Absolutely! My first novel, Artistic License, was a standalone romantic suspense. I didn’t make it a series, because I honestly never believed it would sell. I’d been fortunate to have several short stories published in anthologies, but I wasn’t sure I had the guts to submit a novel. I’m glad I did. Sure, I received a lot of rejections, but even as I turned the manuscript around and submitted it elsewhere, I decided to embark on a new novel – Deadly Blessings. This time, however, I decided I would start a series. Rejections for Artistic License piled up—agents and editors I contacted weren’t interested. Some of them were kind enough to offer feedback and whenever I received any commentary, I’d go back to my manuscript to determine whether the criticisms were valid. Most often they were. Rather than get me down, the agents’ and editors’ feedback gave me hope that I really could do this. Encouraged, I dove back in, made changes, and tried again. And again…
I met Debbie Brod at a Love Is Murder Mystery Conference in 2003. At the time she was an acquisitions editor for Five Star. We were introduced by a mutual friend and Deb very kindly agreed to read Artistic License and get back to me. I was shocked—shocked—when she called me at home about a month later and told me that she was recommending it to Five Star. It was a Sunday morning, and when I got off the phone I jumped around and shouted a lot and my family thought I was a bit nuts. Actually, that’s not completely true. They’ve known me long enough to know I’m a little nuts. They also knew how important this was to me. I think we all jumped around and shouted for quite a while ;-)