Way back when I first started reading lesbian fiction, one of the first books I read was one of Gerri Hill’s romances. Some of her novels such as Artist’s Dream, Gulf Breeze, and Sierra City, are still on my all-time-favorite list. Since she has 25 novels published and more on the way, I was sure that Gerri had been writing full time for a long time, but it turned out that she gave up her day job and became a full-time writer around the same time I did–at the beginning of this year.
Gerri took the time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions about her latest novels and her life as a full-time writer.
How long have you been writing full-time?
Technically, since January. But it took me a little while (months!) to find a routine. I was so used to getting up at 4:00 a.m. and writing until I had to go to work. Actually, I’m not sure I do have a routine yet!
What was the process of moving into full-time writing for you?
The first several weeks, I didn’t write at all. I think it was because I was relishing something I hadn’t had before—time. We have a large piece of property with two vegetable gardens, flower gardens, some fruit trees. In the past, I was used to spending every weekend tending to all that, sneaking in writing when I could. Suddenly, I had “time” and I just took a few weeks to exhale and relax! That’s not to say that I didn’t tinker with outlines or jot down notes here and there. But actual sit-down writing….no.
Do you write every day? Do you give yourself weekends or days off or vacation time away from writing?
I write nearly every day. Whether it’s for an extended period of time or just a few sentences, I usually write something. I try to limit it on the weekends so that my partner and I can have more time together. As it is, I still write in the mornings (although not at 4:00 a.m.!!) and she has her morning routine too, so even on the weekends, we have a few hours of “work” time each. I generally don’t travel without my laptop and certainly never without my digital recorder. I always have notes or bits of conversation between characters, usually from current and future books, on my recorder and/or phone. You never know when inspiration will strike!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
After morning chores (filling bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, feeding the outdoor cats, watering flowers, etc), I spend as much time as needed catching up with email and Facebook. I also take time out to read newspapers and whatever blogs I follow. I’ll then transfer any notes I may have made the day before from my recorder/phone to the document where I keep them. Before I start writing, I go back and read what was written the day before (sometimes two days before). Inevitably, I find something to change! Then once I start writing, I have no timetable, unless it’s a day where I have an appointment or a need to venture into town. I write as long as the words come easily, whether it’s an hour or three or more. I do take breaks. Sometimes just to get up and walk around, other times to get my thoughts together, time for breakfast or lunch, things like that. As soon as I find that I’m struggling to put scenes together, I stop. I stop writing, that is. I never stop thinking about the story, the characters. I never stop having conversations in my head between the characters. So for the rest of the day, whatever else I’m doing around the house or yard, I have my digital recorder in my pocket!
Do you have a daily word-count goal or a set number of hours you spend writing?
No. Never. In fact, I rarely even check my daily word count.
Where do you write?
I have two main places—on the deck of our garden cabin or at my desk. My desk is next to a large window that looks out over the back woods. I have a bird feeder in sight, that, when I’m “thinking”, my gaze is usually fixed on the feeder! I have a love-hate relationship with the garden deck, however. While it is relaxing and I love being outside (there are bird feeders and hummingbird feeders scattered about the garden), I find I sometimes get too distracted. Not from the birds, but from seeing things that need to be done! Weeds to pull, vegetables to harvest, mulch to put out, flowers to water….all things that I could/should be doing! So when I’m in a groove writing, I will usually force myself to stay inside at my desk.
How did family and friends react to you giving up your day job to become a full-time writer?
Most all had some reservations, some were more shocked than others. My immediate family was mixed with my mother being the most supportive.
How much time do you spend promoting your books, including blogging, social media, etc.?
Not much at all. I post on Facebook whenever there is a new release. I have a website with information on it, but it’s not something that I update unless there’s a new release. Bella Books, my publisher, does a great job of promotion.
What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?
For me, it’s being able to write when I want to and not when I have to. I am less regimented now and I find I enjoy it a lot more. I also like that I can sleep past 4:00 a.m.!!
What’s the most difficult thing about being a full-time writer?
So far, I don’t have any reservations or regrets at all. Like I said earlier, I’m not sure I have a routine down yet.
What advice would you give a fellow author who wants to write full time?
Make sure it is indeed your passion. Some authors will say that writing is lonely. I agree to a certain extent and you must enjoy your own company, if that’s the case. However, I don’t find it lonely, really. I am constantly “talking” to my characters and listening in on their conversations. Make sure you have the drive and willpower and discipline to work at your craft. Some people who leave the structure of a fulltime job—with set hours and a boss who keeps them on track—find it hard to keep to a writing schedule.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest novel?
My upcoming release is Angel Fire, a cross-over book with Tori and Sam from Hunter’s Way fame and Cameron and Andrea from Devil’s Rock/Hell’s Highway.
It was nice to get back with all of those ladies, especially Tori and Sam. I hope readers will enjoy their new adventure! It’ll be out in December.
What books can we look forward to from you in the future?
I’m currently working on a romance, Pelican’s Landing. It’s a little different for me and when you read it you’ll know what I mean! After that, I’m not quite sure. I’ve had a lot of requests for another book with CJ and Paige (Keepers of the Cave/Weeping Walls) so I may go that route. I also have a couple of other romances lined up, so I may do back-to-back romance. We’ll see!
Thanks again, Gerri, for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m very excited to hear there will soon be another Tori/Sam book, and I’m also curious about Pelican’s Landing.
Thanks for reading this interview!
Have a nice weekend,