I’m vacationing in the refreshingly hot and humid Midwest this week. I am giddy that it isn’t raining. I know the whole dust bowl thing isn’t really working for the people who live here, but I have had it with rain.
We were in Missouri for the first couple of days which wasn’t a dust bowl at all; it was flooded! The Missouri River floods far and flat. It’s a very different beast from my own Columbia River.
I’m not updating on my novel because I’m on vacation and really haven’t written. Instead, I wanted to give you a chance to get to know the charming and talented Lena Hillebrand.
TRACI: Hey Lena! I’m glad to have you on my blog. Can you tell us about your current work?
LENA: My current book is an urban fantasy novel called The Superiors. It’s about a ‘Superior’ man who lives in a future society that has taken over the world from humans. The Superiors raise humans as livestock, but Draven can’t afford his own human. He becomes entangled with the fate of a human girl, Cali, and vows to purchase her so he can protect her. Through his visits with her, he begins to see her humanity and find his humanity as well. But just when he’s beginning to understand humans as more than animals, he’s called upon by his government to face the ultimate challenge to his humanity.
TRACI: Where did you come up with the idea to write this book?
LENA: When I tell people I wrote a literary vampire novel, I can tell they don’t believe me. But that’s exactly what I wrote. I wanted to write about vampires, but I wanted it to be as ‘realistic’ as possible. And I wanted it to be different from the bodice-ripping paranormal romances or action-heavy urban fantasies. It’s a character driven series, with the relationships and the inner struggles each character faces taking center stage. The Superiors is definitely not a love story, although there’s a lot of love in the series.
TRACI: How long have you been writing?
LENA: Since I was in elementary school. I used to carry around a fanny-pack filled with little notebooks where I wrote stories. Needless to say, I was wildly popular!
TRACI. Is The Superiors your first novel?
LENA: I wrote an insanely long YA series before The Superiors series. They’re my ugly stepchild I keep locked up so no one will ever see them.
TRACI: Would you describe your writing process for us?
LENA: Kamikaze. I jump in with both feet, usually write all I can as fast as I can until the story is done. Then I edit. I hardly ever read or edit what I’ve written before the story is finished. I don’t leave gaps for scenes and I rarely write out of order. My first draft is a book that needs copious amounts of editing, not an outline.
TRACI: Who are some of your literary influences?
LENA: I love the classics and I’m sure they have influenced my writing.
TRACI: What kind of books do you read, and are the books you like to read different from what you write?
LENA: I read all kinds of books, but mainly literary novels. I have read some fantasy, but mostly award-winning YA fantasy. So I do write different from what I read.
TRACI: Where do you come up with your characters? Do you base them on people you’ve seen or met?
LENA: I usually have a general idea and develop the character as I go. So they are developing as the reader is getting to know them. I don’t base them on people I’ve seen, but I have a definite idea of what they look like in my head while I write.
TRACI: Do the names of your characters reflect anything or mean anything in particular? Is there a reason behind the names you choose?
LENA: I spend a lot of time agonizing over character names, getting them just right for the character. Every name in The Superiors is chosen for how vampire-ish it sounds, and usually something else, too. Names have a lot of significance in the books.
TRACI: You mentioned this is a series? When will the next book be available?
LENA: Yes, this is the first book in The Superiors series. The next book, The Vigilantes, will be out later this summer.
TRACI: Thank you for your time Lena! I’ve enjoyed our interview. Where can we learn more about you and your books?
LENA: You can find me online everywhere, but these are the sites I frequent the most:
My blog: http://lenahillbrand.blogspot.com