by Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn Meredith interviews prolific Valley writer, Bonnie Hearn Hill, as she prepares for the release of her new book, Gemini Night and her booksigning in Fresno on October 23. Gemini Night takes place on Halloween making it a perfect October read! Watch for a review here in the near future.
Marilyn: Bonnie, please give me the names of some of your books.
Bonnie: The Star Crossed series: Aries Rising, Taurus Eyes, Gemini Night. Running Press/Perseus Books. Six thrillers for MIRA Books, including Intern, Killer Body, and the Geri LaRue newspaper thriller series. Approximately 30 books with my own fiction and nonfiction and books co-authored with others.
Marilyn: First, I’d like to know a bit about your background. Though I’ve known you for a long, long time, I really don’t know anything about your younger years, before the Fresno Bee. Did you always want to be a writer?
Bonnie: Before I could talk, I knew I wanted to make pictures, and by the time I was given my first paint set, I knew it wasn’t art. I won my first writing contest in the third grade–a 25-words-or-less Coca Cola contest. First prize was a hifi and an Eddie Fisher LP. Mr. Redwine, the old man who owned the grocery story where I bought Coke, won the same prize. We traveled from Hanford to Fresno and got our prizes on the Dave Stoggner Show. It was out in the country on Shaw Avenue. Mr. Redwine kept his hifi in his store for the rest of his life. I was bitten by the writing bug and knew that nothing anyone said or did to me would ever make me give up my dream.
Marilyn: Bonnie, I’ve always admired your work from the time you wrote for the Fresno Bee, your first published book, the one you wrote with you husband, and your thrillers.
Bonnie: That feeling is mutual, Marilyn. I wrote many books before the one with my husband. My first book was on writing. My first novel was set during the Delano Grape Strike, but I wrote my very first novel twenty-three years before I got my six-book deal with MIRA. The first novel never sold–thank goodness.
Marilyn: Now you’re writing Young Adult novels. What made you decide to change what you were doing?
Bonnie: I wanted to write an astrology mystery, and the adult market was full of them. Not so with young adult. I wasn’t sure I would be able to write them, but as you know, I am a kid at heart, and I absolutely loved writing these books.
Marilyn: The covers for this series are wonderful. How much input did you have, if any?
Bonnie: A great deal. I had a wonderful editor, and she ran everything past me–and more important–past my agent. We looked at many photos of many girls. The cover on the first book is my favorite. I think she looks like Logan, my protagonist. I think the second cover looks like Chili, Logan’s best friend.
Marilyn: Do your know have a different type of readers or have your fans followed you? My guess is you’ve added a whole new fan base to what you already have.
Bonnie: You’re right, Marilyn. I’ve heard from more readers in this series than with any of my other books. I’ve also gotten some amazing e-mail from teens who want to write.
Marilyn: Almost everywhere I go, I run into people who not only admire your writing but also your teaching skills. Tell us something about your writing classes.
Bonnie: As I already confessed, Marilyn, I wasted 23 years trying to find a mentor. I began teaching in 1990, and by the time I stopped because of my book contract obligations, my class was 100 percent published. Poetry, articles, essays, books, even cowboy poetry.. We had it all. Then my husband acquired Scene Gallery in Fresno. I’m just starting my next eight-week session. $50 a student–for the entire eight weeks. The writers with whom I’ve been working are amazing
Marilyn: I know there are success stories among your students; would you like to share some?
Bonnie: I’m not sure how to define success, Marilyn. Is it Hazel Dixon-Cooper, a hospital secretary who sold her humorous astrology series from one chapter and a five-page proposal for six figures? Is it Gloria Salas, with a third-grade education, who sold the story of her life to a women’s magazine and ran through the store with the magazine in her hand, screaming, “Do you see this? I wrote this. This is my story.” I could tell you many other amazing connections, but more important, I can tell you what it takes to make that connection. Most writers are too hung up on their first drafts and first books. Most writers can’t handle criticism. I teach in a gallery, and I tell my students not to look at their work as framed masterpieces. Look at your writing as a work in progress.
Marilyn: Oh, this is definitely a true statement. I’ve been in the same critique group for thirty years. We’ve had many writers come who wanted to join us until they found out we didn’t just do praise—we also gave honest opinions about what was wrong and what didn’t work. Where can people learn more about you?
Bonnie: Anyone can visit my website and read about my books.
Marilyn: I understand there’s soon to be a booksigning for Gemini Night, where and when?
Bonnie: October 23 at Barnes & Noble from 2-4. Then a reception (with Larry’s great food) at Scene Gallery, southwest corner of Palm and Nees in Fresno.
Marilyn Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Bonnie: It’s not original, but it is the most honest advice I can offer. Never give up. Never.
Marilyn: Thank you so very much, Bonnie. I enjoyed visiting with you and much success with all your books and your signing.