Civilian Reader interviews Lynda Hilburn…
Your debut novel, The Vampire Shrink, was released in October, and is the first in a projected series. How would you introduce the book and series to new readers? Where do you see the series going in the future?
The Vampire Shrink, book #1 in the Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist series, is about the ongoing experiences of Psychologist Kismet Knight who believes she has found a new “dysfunction of the week” with her vampire wannabes. She’s primed to write a book on this demographic, but soon discovers her research participants aren’t all “wannabes”. Some are the real deal. Finding herself in this strange, parallel world changes her entire life. She meets a gorgeous, 800-year-old bloodsucker, a rule-breaking FBI profiler, lots of neurotic vampires, a psychic, a witch, ghosts and becomes enmeshed in a series of bloody murders. Paranormal insanity!
I’m planning for Kismet to continue to have experiences in her new world. There are thousands of vampires for her to counsel in Denver. There should be no limit to the number of books in the series.
The Vampire Shrink has a pretty interesting and original premise, with a vampire psychologist as its protagonist; how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve been a vampire book reader for years, but it wasn’t until 2004, inspired by a session with one my psychotherapy clients in my office, that I seriously thought about writing a paranormal novel. Previous to that, I’d mostly written nonfiction. The client who gave me the idea was a young woman who talked about wanting to join a non-human group. It wasn’t vampires in this case, but something about her words reminded me of some of the vampire books I’d read. I began to wonder what would it be like to walk into my waiting room and find a gorgeous bloodsucker there. I went home that night and began writing The Vampire Shrink. My real-life clients and their psychiatric experiences (disguised, of course) trigger ideas for my vampire clients, so I’m unlikely to run out of ideas!
What first drew you to paranormal fantasy, and where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I’ve always been strange. I was born with keen psychic/intuitive abilities, and had non-ordinary experiences from an early age. I was raised in a family where the women spoke with the dead, so I come by my differences honestly. I remember discovering Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a child, and becoming fascinated with that archetype. That has never changed. I’ve enjoyed the explosion of paranormal novels over the last ten years, and anticipate it will continue. There’s just something special about those mysterious creatures. Our human fear of death and the unknown (and attraction to same) will keep readers coming back to the dark forever.
How do you enjoy being a writer and working within the publishing industry? Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Publishing is changing so fast these days, especially in the USA. The rise of the popularity of eBooks has transformed the book-reading landscape. I’m keeping a foot in each world: “traditional” publishing and digital. Both are exciting. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Jo Fletcher at Quercus and to be the launch book for her new imprint. She’s a truly skilled editor and a lovely woman. I’ve also enjoyed my contact with my USA publisher, Sterling, as well.
I actually avoid research as much as possible! That’s why I only write contemporary paranormals at this point; I can make up whatever I want and add it to the “real” world. I also might explore writing psychological thrillers at some point, since I’ve got a lot of background there, too.
I have been writing as long as I can remember, and most of it was non-fiction. I wrote long diary/journal entries, typed (on a manual typewriter) endless letters to friends, then got involved in academia, where I wrote reams of papers and a thesis in graduate school. I was also on staff at various college newspapers. After graduation, I had a weekly column in two local newspapers, and created self-help, psychology and metaphysical articles and training materials. I didn’t begin writing fiction until 2004, when I decided to try my hand at vampire books. I wrote a couple of short things and sold them to e-publishing companies. From that point, I’ve never stopped. It has been a wild ride and the most fun I can have without involving men or chocolate.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
Paranormal is a very wide genre, and it can include urban fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, paranormal suspense, paranormal humor, paranormal thrillers – the field is wide open. I expect it will continue to grow and transform and new ideas are tossed into the box. Everything in publishing is getting more and more exciting. It’s an amazing time to be an author.
What projects do you have currently in the pipeline?
I’m madly working on the new book #2 in my series. There was an original book #2, but my editor and I decided that book jumped too far ahead in the series arc, so I’m writing a brand new one called Blood Therapy. It takes place right after the end of book one. I’m also working on a short story in that world at the request of my USA editor for promotion of the American version of the novel. Then I’m on to book #3, which will either be a massive rewrite/expansion of the other book I wrote, or something entirely new. I don’t know yet.
Who are you reading at the moment (fiction and/or non-fiction)?
I do have to read a lot of nonfiction for my clinical work. Books about all forms of psychotherapy and healing modalities. For fun I read urban/dark fantasy, paranormal romance, mysteries/suspense and psychological thrillers. I’m a real fan of theDexter books and TV series. What a unique idea: a serial killer we can root for! I also tend to read widely on the subject of publishing and its huge changes. I need to stay on top of things!
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I have a lot of varied interests: I do tarot/psychic readings, I sing with rock and roll bands (now for fun, but in the past for part of my livelihood), and I offer hypnotherapy in addition to psychotherapy. And I love to go to haunted places. My favorite so far was a trip to England back in 2005 where I was overwhelmed by my experiences at the Tower of London. I expected to sense the pain, but it was the sadness that I couldn’t shake for days. I’m more careful now about where I stick my psychic toes.
What are you most looking forward to in the next year?
I look forward to the USA release of The Vampire Shrink in April, 2012. Then I’m excited about finishing my second book, having a release date for it in both the UK and the USA, working on book three, and hopefully coming up with other series and spin-off books. Of course, for all that (while still working as a psychotherapist) I need to be disciplined! I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.
Thanks so much for having me!
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