Lara Van Hulzen received her BA in Journalism from Point Loma Nazarene Universtity in 1994. Her first published article was when she was a senior in high school. She has worked as a book reviewer for the past 18 years with various organizations such as Crossings Doubleday, YouthWorker Journal, and www.radiantlit.com. She is a member of Romance Writers of America as well as Inspire Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband and three children in Northern California. For more, visit www.laramvanhulzen.com
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Lara. Congratulations on your upcoming release, Get To Me. Can you tell us what first inspired this book and what first drew you to write the Men of Honor series?
Lara: Thank you. I was actually listening to music one day and a scene came into my head of Ben and Tess from Remember Me, Book 1 in the Men of Honor series. That story formed from there. Dane and Aimee, the main characters in Get To Me, show up as secondary characters in Remember Me and again, I just pictured them in my head and went from there. I start all my stories with the characters. I’m a people person so I love character driven stories. I think about their likes and dislikes, their background, why they do what they do. Then I play the “what if” game and plot lines form from there.
I saw Aimee right away as a feisty redhead. Athletic, fun, chatty. And I saw Dane as a cowboy, a more quiet, level-headed balance to Aimee.
Savanna: I read on your website that you published your first article while you were still in high school. What were some of the earliest topics you wrote about?
Lara: My father died when I was seven in a hot air balloon accident. My mom ended up writing some books about being a single parent and I had a magazine ask me to write an article about what it’s like to have a parent date.
My writing really began in non-fiction. My degree is in journalism and I was a freelance writer for various papers and magazines over the years. Topics ranged from people starting a new business to how to potty train twins. (I have a daughter and twin boys 🙂 )
I’ve always loved fiction writing though as well. I’m constantly forming scenes in my head. And I love to try and understand what makes people tick. With fiction writing, I get to decide that. It’s fun.
Savanna: What a journey it’s been for you. Thanks for sharing it with us. Can you name a favorite book you’ve read so far this year that stands out to you? If so, why?
Lara: I can’t say one book but one author, Dora Hiers, is a new favorite. I love her characters and stories and she doesn’t hit you over the head with the faith aspect. It’s woven into who the characters are and I love that. I try to do that myself in my books.
Savanna: Since you are a romantic-at-heart like the rest of us, what is your favorite romantic movie and favorite romantic book?
Lara: That’s a tough one! There are so many to choose from. A favorite movie is You’ve Got Mail. I watch it every fall. And also While You Were Sleeping. That’s a favorite at Christmas time.
As far as favorite romantic book, I would say that choosing just one is impossible. But I will say Catherine Bybee is one of my favorite romance authors. I love all her books. And RaeAnne Thayne. You can’t go wrong with either of those authors.
Savanna: Can you share with us a piece of writing advice that has made a difference in your career?
Lara: Write from the heart, not what people expect of you. It’s tougher than it sounds. With social media now, authors are able to hear quite a bit of what people like and don’t like about books. It’s easy to get wrapped up in trying to please everyone. But when I step away and immerse myself in my characters and their world and write their story, I think that’s when my best work reveals itself.
Also, good is better than fast. That’s another tough tightrope to walk in this business because readers want books sooner rather than later. And deadlines are a must. But readers want your best work and that takes time. So I try to find a balance between having a deadline and also letting the work flow the way it wants.
Savanna: That’s great advice, thank you. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
Lara: I’m currently working on Rescue Me, Book 3 in the Men of Honor series. That will be coming out winter 2015.
Savanna: Looks like it’s going to be a busy year for you. Hope it’s a blessed one! Thanks so much for sharing with us today, Lara.
Lara has graciously offered to give away a copy of Get To Me to one lucky winner. Enter below and it could be YOU! 😉
Thanks for entering! Contest is open only in the U.S. and ends April 28, 2015. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody! 😉