Focus on Fiction is pleased to feature
Robin Lee Hatcher
Robin is a best-selling novelist whose many awards include the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the RITA Award for Best Inspirational, and the Romance Writers of America's Lifetime Achievement Award. Her recent books include Legacy Lane, and CBA bestseller Catching Katie. To date there are approximately six million copies of her books in print, in at least fourteen countries! When not slaving over a new work of staggering genius, Robin enjoys speaking at writers' and women's groups, and spending time with her husband, children, grandchildren, and family pets.
Focus: Robin, thank you for joining us! Can you start off by telling us how many stories you have published in the Christian market?
Robin Lee Hatcher: With the release of Beyond the Shadows (June 2004), I now have 14 books published in the CBA and a career total of 44 books.
Focus: You wrote secular fiction for ten years before reading a powerful Christian novel that challenged and inspired you toward a career change. How did God use this novel to encourage you to write Christian fiction?
Robin Lee Hatcher: When I read Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (in 1991), I saw for the first time the power fiction could have to affect and change lives. I remember wishing I could write something that powerful, but I didn't believe I had the talent, ideas, or imagination for that kind of novel. And because I wasn't walking closely with the Lord at the time, I certainly didn't believe God could use me. Over the next six years, God restored me and healed me and revealed to me the ministry He had designed for me from the beginning.
Focus: Did switching from the secular market to the Christian market have a negative impact on you financially, particularly in the first few years?
Robin Lee Hatcher: Yes, at first it was daunting since I was, essentially, starting over, and my advances were less than I'd earned in the secular market. One day my husband and I sat down to look at our finances, and it didn't appear that we would be able to meet our obligations for a long time. We thought we would be forced to sell our home. But because we knew God had called us into this ministry of writing (I'm the writer, but He called us as a couple), we also knew we had no choice but to obey Him. Our heart-attitude was, God gave us our home, and if He now required it of us, it was His to take. We were going to stay the course, no matter what. We tithed first, paid our obligations second -- and we were never late nor missed a single payment. We relied on the promise of Malachi 3:10 that says: "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do," says the LORD Almighty, "I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!" Over and over, God proved it to us. We saw Him multiply loaves and fishes in our lives more than once.
Focus: Now that you are established in your Christian writing career, you have a huge fan base, and readers all over the world waiting to get a copy of your latest story, Beyond the Shadows, (due out with Tyndale in June). Would you give us a brief synopsis of the book, and tell us why you believe so strongly in the story's message?
Robin Lee Hatcher: Synopsis: Loneliness and grief stalk Deborah Haskin after her husband's death, but hope eases her pain when she marries Gideon. After their marriage, Deborah discovers a devastating secret--Gideon is an alcoholic! How can someone who has brought her healing bring so much hurt, too? Deborah is faced with a life she never expected. Somehow she must find courage and hope to step beyond the shadows.
When the idea for Beyond the Shadows came to me, I can't claim I was glad. The alcoholism of a loved one has impacted my life, and I wasn't certain I wanted to delve deeply into the feelings and situations the novel would require. But eventually I realized this was the story God wanted me to write. The truth is, the body of Christ too often doesn't know how to minister to the alcoholics and their families who are in their midst. They think addictions are a problem of the world and not within the church. And many, when encountered with the disease, don't know how to respond to it.
But this is not a dark and gloomy story. This is a love story filled with hope. God is sovereign, and nothing enters the life of one of His children without His permission and for His purpose of making us more like Christ.
Focus: You've also recently published Legacy Lane, the first book in your new Hart's Crossing series. Can you give readers who haven't had the chance to check it out, a quick summary of the plot?
Robin Lee Hatcher: Angie Hunter left Hart's Crossing for college and never looked back. So when her widowed mother needs care following surgery, Angie is more than ready to hire a nurse rather than return to her antiquated hometown. But when she is passed over for a promotion at work, an angry Angie quits and heads home anyway. Francine Hunter is both excited and nervous about having her daughter home for the next two months. She sees this as her chance to make a new connection with her estranged daughter. Will she be able to nudge Angie toward faith without overdoing it? Or will Angie pack up and leave for a new job as soon as Francine has recovered?
Focus: Your female characters are strong, faith-filled women who often find themselves in the midst of heartbreaking trials and challenges. Is there one specific heroine in your stories with whom you most identify?
Robin Lee Hatcher: Whatever God has taught me or is in the midst of teaching me ends up as part of the fabric of my characters' lives. So I suppose the answer is that I identify with each of my heroines for different reasons. I would be hard pressed to pick one over the others. Also, my characters become real people in my mind. They are unique individuals to me. While my heroines include pieces of me in their personalities and thought processes, they are uniquely themselves.
Focus: You've written about an incredible range of topics, set in time periods from the old west to the present day. Is there a particular book among those you've written that you're especially proud of? If so, why?
Robin Lee Hatcher: Because of the lessons of God mentioned in the previous answer, each novel is special to me in its own way. But if forced to select, I would say The Forgiving Hour and Beyond the Shadows. The topics are infidelity in the first and alcoholism in the second, issues of today's world that are destroying countless lives. Therefore, I believe the ministry value of these novels is great. A reader can hand a novel to a friend in need more easily, often, than they can hand a self-help or non-fiction book about the same issue.
Focus: What do you feel is the greatest message with which God has entrusted you, and why have you chosen fiction as the medium for that message?
Robin Lee Hatcher: The message: God's amazing grace. It is greater than our mistakes, our foul-ups, our ignorance, our sins.
Why did I choose fiction? I didn't, really. I believe God shaped me in my mother's womb to become a novelist. He placed in my heart a love of the written word and gave me a passion for storytelling. I have no calling to be a teacher in the sense of standing before a class and teaching facts. And yet God has gifted me to touch lives through the medium of stories. If a novelist does her job well, readers identify with the characters and learn life lessons along with them.
Focus: Would you share with us a little about your Christian testimony?
Robin Lee Hatcher: I was raised in a mainline Christian church, but I was in my twenties before someone shared with me that being a Christian was more than a religious practice and church was more than a wholesome place to be on a Sunday morning. I don't recall ever hearing at my church that I could know Jesus, that He wanted to be my personal Lord and Savior, that He would come and live in my heart if I only asked Him to. I don't remember anyone telling me as I was growing up that I needed to be born again. I didn't know I was lost until I was found. Thank God for the young couple who entered my life and quietly began to share the person of Jesus Christ with me. Thank God for saving my mother and then allowing her to pray me into the Kingdom.
I suppose it isn't surprising, given my love for books, that God chose the printed word to reveal Himself to me. It began when I was given a copy of the Living Bible. Over the following months, as I read the New Testament, I also read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Woman to Woman by Eugenia Price, and Prison to Praise by Merlin R. Carothers. Finally, on Valentine's Day 1976 at approximately 6:00 a.m., I gave my heart to Jesus.
Focus: Though you've been writing since grade school, your secret childhood ambition was not to be an author but an actress! Do you ever wish you'd pursued that career? Or do you think your flair for drama was a God-given gift to enhance your writing?
Robin Lee Hatcher: I thoroughly enjoyed the acting I did, and I still love the theater with passion. (One of my ideal vacations is to go to New York and squeeze in as many Broadway plays as possible.) But I'm not sorry I didn't pursue it as a career. I'll never be a size 4, and I couldn't handle being on a diet for the rest of my life! :) I do believe that my theater training has enhanced my writing. Those experiences also gave me confidence to speak in public to large groups, on television, etc. That's been helpful in my career, especially when God opened doors for leading Christian women's retreats, which is something I also love to do.
Focus: You maintain an intense writing schedule, including getting up every day at 4:30 AM. Can you tell us what you feel are the three most important disciplines of a successful writer?
Robin Lee Hatcher: I will modify your question slightly and say "a successful Christian novelist."
(1) Spend time in the Bible and in worship every single day of your life. You cannot create anything of real or lasting value if it's created without the Word of God and your love for the Lord woven into its foundation. Joshua 1:8 says: "Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed."
(2) Don't measure the success of your career by worldly standards. Your success has nothing to do with money or best-seller lists. It has everything to do with what God says about it. Does your writing please the Lord, even if no one else reads it? Then you have succeeded.
(3) Try to write something every day. You learn more by doing than by reading books about how to write. You can't fix something that hasn't been written yet. And forget perfection. Write the very best book you are capable of writing today.
Focus: When you're not writing, you're often spending time with four very special non-humans. Would you tell our readers a bit about Delilah, Misty, Tiko, and Poppet?
Robin Lee Hatcher: I'm happy to. But first let me say that people hear more about my pets than my daughters and grandchildren. That's intentional, as I want to protect them. They are far more important to me than my four-footed friends.
Still, my life would have a void without my pets. Delilah is my Persian cat. She is nearly 16 years old, and she is totally mine. She wants nothing to do with other people, and she is not at all happy about the dogs in the family. Misty (the border collie, 10) and Tiko (the sheltie, 8) are outdoor dogs. Both top 50 pounds in weight and love to chase the Frisbee in our large backyard. Poppet the Papillon (five months) is my little doll. She keeps me company in my office and often runs errands with me. Her "twin" will surely show up in a future book.
Focus: In addition to sending you e-mail and visiting your website, are there any other ways your readers and fans can encourage you?
Robin Lee Hatcher: (1) Pray for me and my writing ministry. Two years ago, I asked readers for volunteers to be part of a prayer team. I hoped for 15 and God gave me 20. This year there are 30 prayer warriors who get bi-weekly prayer bulletins where I share praises and prayer requests. These believers stand in the gap for me and my books, and I am more thankful for them than I can express. Of course, I hope others who are not part of the actual prayer team are also praying. The enemy has attacked me and my family countless times since I committed myself and my career 100% to Jesus. I'm very aware that it's the prayers of the saints that often carry me through.
(2) Tell others about my books. Word of mouth is so important to a writer. There are many titles published every month, and reader recommendations are the best way to help others discover my books. If a reader loves one of my books, I'm grateful when they take a moment to not only tell their friends, but to post that information on such web sites as Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and Christianbook.com.
Focus: Is there anything else you would like your readers to know?
Robin Lee Hatcher: Writing is a solitary and oftentimes frustrating and difficult career path. But every struggle becomes worth it when I hear from a reader who has accepted Christ or who has been touched by the Lord in some way because of one of my books. I am always amazed and humbled by those letters and emails. When I read them, I sit at my desk and cry. After all, all I did was write a story that captured my heart and imagination. Then the Holy Spirit took my offering and used it as He willed. That's a miracle as far as I'm concerned.