With only one week before the launching of WAKING LAZARUS, it must be the same for T. L. Hines. Like the astronaut, Tony’s spent years getting to this point. Now comes the big payoff, the day every writer dreams of, the day they see their baby displayed in the bookstore.
Tony was kind enough to take some time out from all the last moment craziness to answer some questions. Hey, inquiring minds want to know. I think you will enjoy the interview.
David Meigs: Tony, I loved WAKING LAZARUS. The characters felt so real to me. Did you base any of them off of real people, or maybe even yourself?
T. L. Hines: I think there's a bit of the writer in any character. At least that's the case for me—there's something drawn from my own life in each and every main character. Sometimes it's purely me, and sometimes it's drawn from people I know. Here's an example: in WAKING LAZARUS, the name "Ron Gress" is actually a combination of two childhood friends (one whose first name was Ron, one whose last name was Gress). But it worked, because "Ron Gress" sounds a bit like "regress," which really represents what that character does in the book. So it worked.
David Meigs: How did you come up with WAKING LAZARUS?
T. L. Hines: A couple of things led to the idea for WAKING LAZARUS, both from my own life. When I was about five years old, I fell through the ice while icefishing with my uncle. Several years later, while attending the University of Montana, I worked as a janitor in the school's Chem/Pharm building, where I had to clean the cadaver storage room. My overactive imagination always imagined one of the cadavers sitting up. Those two images—a boy falling through the ice and drowning, and a cadaver sitting up in a morgue—converged and gave me the idea. What if there were a man, I wondered, who has died and returned to life several times? What might that mean? What might he be like?
David Meigs: What was your favorite scene or scenes in WAKING LAZARUS?
T. L. Hines: Hey, you're actually the first person to ask that. I suppose the politically correct thing to say is that it's too hard to pick out a favorite scene, and that readers will have their own favorite scenes, and blah, blah. But I think the most effective scenes, the most nail-biting scenes, are the ones that take place inside Kenneth Sohler's house. (I won't say more about them and ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it. But those of you who have read it know what scenes I mean.) Actually, those scenes appear in the book almost exactly as I wrote them in the first draft—one of those rare instances where everything "clicked." I also like the POV scenes for the Hunter, just because it's fun to write about creepy guys.
David Meigs: Did you employ an outline or did you just follow your imagination?
T. L. Hines: A little of both. I love the thrill of "discovering" a story as I go along, but I also benefit from having an outline that keeps me on task. So here's what I've discovered works well for me. First, I write the story as a screenplay, which ends up being about 100 pages. That screenplay, in turn, becomes a detailed outline with key scenes and dialogue. I get to "discover" the story as I write the screenplay, then work from an outline and fill in details as I write the first draft of the novel.
David Meigs: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? Any advice for us aspiring authors?
T. L. Hines: As far as the book is concerned, I'm really very happy with it. There's nothing about it that makes me say, "Gee, if only this were different…" I was happy Dave Long, who acquired the book, stayed on board and edited it himself. He was fun to work with, and really had some great suggestions; I can tell you his input really helped the book.
I suppose I would change the worry, anxiety and stress I put myself through on this whole journey. Every so often, I've found myself getting so wrapped up in thoughts about the book, worrying about what else I can do to help it succeed. And my wife has been wonderful through it, saying, "You know what? God is in control of it all." I've needed to hear that again and again; unfortunately, it didn't stick the first 10 times she said it. So now, I'm trying to just let it all go and enjoy it. Getting nice reviews, and wonderful comments from people who have read advance copies, has been wonderful.
My advice to writers is to avoid the traps I've found myself falling into. Before I had a contract, I literally made myself sick with frustration: I wanted to be published, and made that an ultimate goal. One day, I sat down to pray—following more than 100 rejections—and let it go. I said to God, "I don't care if I ever get published. From now on, I'm just going to write because I enjoy it." Two weeks later, I had an email from Dave Long asking to look at my manuscript; a month after that I had a two book contract. Is that coincidence? I don't think so. As a Christian, don't turn the goal of publication into an idol; write because you love it. God will honor that.
David Meigs: Oh my, tell me about your next book.
T. L. Hines: There is. I'm working on it now, and Bethany House will release it Summer of 2007. It's tentatively called VALLEY OF SHADOW, and it's a supernatural thriller about a woman who hears her dead father speaking to her from the shadows. He tells her the spirits of the dead occupy the shadows of our world, and recruits her into a secret government network that works with the shadow operatives. But soon, she discovers the true nature of the shadows—and the true nature of what they want. As far as the woo-woo factor, it's probably a little more "out there" than WAKING LAZARUS. But it's more of a suspense tale, whereas I think WAKING LAZARUS is more of a mystery at heart.
Tony, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule. I wish you success beyond your wildest dreams. May God bless WAKING LAZARUS!
Tomorrow I’ll give you my take on WAKING LAZARUS, by T. L. Hines.