Interview with Laura Hesse

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first stories I read were the Black Stallion Series, King of the Wind, and Pit Pony.

My mother told me that by the time I was three, I was asking Santa to drop a pony down the chimney so it followed that the first books I read were about horses. King of the Wind was my favorite. I pictured myself racing across the desert on a glistening stallion each and every night for weeks. In the real world, I set up a fan to blow wind in my face and urged my trusty stuffed bronco across the living room floor. Together, my bronco and I conquered the world.

All of these books made me dream, and dream BIG!

Later, I got hooked on detective stories and adventures such as Ice Station Zebra and the Three Musketeers series. This was thanks to my dad pushing me to expand my horizons. I am grateful every day for that experience and his patience when we combed the bookstores in England for more and more Dumas out-of-print novels.
How do you approach cover design?
My pet peeve is covers that don't match the story. I design my own covers and am lucky to be able to do so. I have a graphic arts background and find that once I have finished the final editing process, some paragraph or image in the story usually sticks in my mind and I embrace that image through-out the design process.
What do you read for pleasure?
I like to read Stephen King, Heather Graham, Tony Hillerman, Dick Francis, and many others. I love the feeling of stumbling upon a new book by a new author that I have never read before. It's just like Christmas. You never know what gem might be hidden beneath the tree with your name on it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Most of my print books sold via word-of-mouth and a lot of miles on my truck as I went from book signings to trade shows. Multi-media marketing on facebook and Linked-In has worked well. Mostly, its traditional media such as newspaper and magazine reviews that have increased sales for me.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Gumboots, Gumshoes & Murder, came about as a result of a late night session with a panicky girlfriend, who happened to be my editor. I set her up with a fellow writer from one of my writer's groups.

First let me say, that he was a very nice man and I had no idea that he wrote vampire/slasher books.

My girlfriend lives on a farm at the end of a dead end road so when she read the first chapter of his manuscript, alone in the dark, she had visions of stalkers in the bushes with fangs and ill intent. She called me on the phone at about midnight, sure that the writer was a madman in disguise. After all, where on earth would all that blood lust come from?

I told her to pour herself a large glass of wine and did the same for myself. We then proceeded to come up with all sorts of odd and funny ways to knock someone off.

Four years later, I turned some of those ideas into a black comedy and she retired from editing.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I'm a control freak, what can I say. I want control of my stories and want to write the characters....and endings...that I want or that the story dictates. I don't need to be commercial. A good story is a good story. A great story is inspiring and has a life of its own. Let us all breath and inspire to greatness in our independence.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It has allowed me to reach farther than my own narrow geographic borders and seek that one reader's heart to touch. That to me is success.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Touching another person's heart.
What are you working on next?
The final book in the Holiday Series - Valentino - a story of survival and love, as well as the second book in the Gumboot Series. I'm also developing a television one hour pilot for a new detective series.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love my family and spend as much time as possible with my partner and step-daughter. My partner inspires me every day to love, sing and dance. My life is filled with artists and musicians. I couldn't wish for more.
Where do you get your story ideas?
The number one question that I get asked at book signing events or author readings is: where do you get your ideas? So here’s how “One Frosty Christmas” began.73 dpi frosty

The old mustang in the story, Frosty, is based on an actual pony called “Frosted Tip”. This little fellow was delivered to Thunderbird in Vancouver several years ago en route from Wyoming to northern BC. A friend of mine was working at the horse show when the scruffy white pony with frostbitten ears was dropped off. The horse transporter asked if she would mind looking after the pony until he was picked up by his new owner? She was delighted. “Frosty”, as my friend aptly named him, was the cutest, if not homeliest, pony she had ever seen. She hoped to meet his new owner, but her responsibilities kept her as busy in the show ring as they did in the barn, and he was gone before dinner the next day.

I was so taken with the story of Frosted Tip…How did he lose the tips of his ears? What adventures had he lived through? Why buy a frostbitten pony in Wyoming and ship him to northern BC? What made this pony so special?…that I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. It must have been frightening for the pony to travel all that distance in the care of total strangers. Before I knew it, my imagination took hold and the concept behind “One Frosty Christmas” was born.

The human characters were a little harder to bring to life. The character of Hannah Storey developed out of time spent working as a volunteer with a couple of therapeutic riding associations and by growing up around numerous WWII vets including my Uncle Mac, who was an amputee. Johnny Joe is a composite of several people – my father, a gentle and peaceful man with a great sense of humour and determination, a native boy from Port Alberni who quietly offered to “sing” for my father’s spirit along with his grandmother and aunt’s on their passing, and Walter, one of the camp cooks I worked with while stationed at Fort McKay, Alberta.

To write, one must ask questions. The first step begins with a thought or an event, like a frostbitten old mustang traveling from Wyoming to northern BC, and the rest is up to the writer.
Published 2013-12-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.