Libby Hellmann interview with David Alan Binder
Post date: Jun 20, 2016 1:04:19 PM
Libby Hellmann interview with David Alan Binder
This is actually a shortened bio; however, she is so accomplished that it is hard to shorten with any justice.
Libby Fischer Hellmann writes Compulsively Readable Thrillers. With thirteen novels and twenty short stories published, she has also written suspense mysteries, historicals, PI novels, amateur sleuth, police procedurals, and even a cozy mystery.
She is armed with a Masters Degree in Film Production from New York University, and a BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania, she started her career in broadcast news. She began as an assistant film editor at NBC News in New York, but moved back to DC where she worked with Robin McNeil and Jim Lehrer at N-PACT, the public affairs production arm of PBS. When Watergate broke, she was re-trained as an assistant director and helped produce PBS’s night-time broadcasts of the hearings.
In 1978, Hellmann moved to Chicago to work at Burson-Marsteller, the large public relations firm, staying until 1985 when she founded Fischer Hellmann Communications. Currently, when not writing, she conducts speaker training programs in platform speaking, presentation skills, media training, and crisis communications. Libby also writes and produces videos.
Her first novel, AN EYE FOR MURDER, Publishers Weekly called it a “masterful blend of politics, history, and suspense,” and it was nominated for several awards. That was followed by three more entries in the Ellie Foreman series.
A few years later, Libby introduced her second series featuring hard-boiled Chicago PI Georgia Davis. There are four books in that series: EASY INNOCENCE (2008) and DOUBLEBACK (2009), which was selected as a Great Lakes Booksellers’ Association “2009 Great Read;” TOXICITY (2011), a police procedural [eBook] thriller that became the prequel to the Georgia Davis series; and NOBODY’S CHILD, (2014), which was nominated for both a Shamus and a Daphne Award .
Next came SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE (2010), a standalone thriller. It was short-listed for ForeWord Magazine‘s Book of 2010 in the suspense/thriller category. Her 2012 release, A BITTER VEIL, was released in April. And in 2013, she published HAVANA LOST, a third stand-alone thriller set largely in Cuba.
JUMP CUT, the 5th Ellie Foreman novel was published March, 2016.
Libby has also edited a highly acclaimed crime fiction anthology, CHICAGO BLUES (2007). In May, 2010, she published a collection of her own short stories called NICE GIRL DOES NOIR. And in 2015 she published THE INCIDENTAL SPY, a novella set during the early year of the Manhattan Project in Chicago. She is currently working on another WW2 novella, tentatively titled HOMEFRONT.
In 2005-2006 she was the National President of Sisters in Crime, a 3,500 plus member organization committed to strengthening the voice of female mystery writers.
The answer to question number 13 is insightful and will be helpful to writers who have felt this way. It sure makes sense to me.
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Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/77146.Libby_Fischer_Hellmann
1. Where are you currently living?
2. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?
To allow myself to “write ugly” or as Anne Lamott says, aim to write a “Shitty first draft.”
3. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk? That I hate to write but love to edit.
4. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?
a. I think self-publishing is great; I love the control. The only weak part is print distribution. So depending on the project, I will either self-publish or look for a traditional publisher partner.
b. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?
I have had 4 publishers: Berkeley Prime Crime, Bleak House Books, Allium Press of Chicago, and Poisoned Pen Press, which has published a majority of my books.
5. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?
Send out a dynamite query letter that makes an agent demand to see your manuscript. But first make sure the agent represents your genre. But most important, decide whether you need an agent. You may not. I don’t have one now but I do hire them for specific projects that I can’t do on my own.
6. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?
Hire a developmental editor after you think your manuscript is perfect. Spend the money. It will be worth it.
7. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?
How little the big publishers want to innovate. If a unique novel is written, within a year there will be at least 5 imitations.
8. How many books have you written?
13 novels, 20+ short stories
9. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?
If you write credible, 3-dimensional characters, they will lead you to the twist.
10. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?
I hope it’s the cover and the quality of the writing.
11. What are some ways in which you promote your work?
I do 90% of my promotion online these days. Facebook, Twitter, ads, blogs, reviews.
12. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?
I can’t think of anything I’d do differently except maybe self-publish a bit earlier than I did. Joe Konrath kept telling me to jump in, but I waited about a year before I di.
13. What saying or mantra do you live by?
To pay attention when I want to procrastinate. It’s usually means something I’ve written isn’t right.
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