HILLARY MANTON LODGE is the author of Together at the Table, Reservations for Two, A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, and Simply Sara. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate Magazine. Her next novel, Jane of Austin, released June 13, 2017, from WaterBrook Multnomah.
Over the years, Hillary’s novels have enjoyed critical success from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romantic Times and have reached readers around the world. In 2010, Plain Jayne was nominated as a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara was an ECPA Bestselling book. In 2015, A Table by the Window was shortlisted in the INSPY Awards.
In her free time, Hillary often finds herself experimenting in the kitchen, attending indie concerts, and finding new walking trails. Formerly a resident of the Pacific Northwest, she and her husband now live near Memphis, Tennessee, along with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Shiloh and Sylvie.
Hillary Manton Lodge writes books and tests recipes from her home outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Jane of Austin is her sixth novel.
1) What exactly is your business and what made you get started?
I’m an author, which these days means you wear a lot of hats. Aside from having published six novels, I’m also actively involved with the marketing and publicity. I create all of the supporting graphics – everything but the cover. I do all of my own web design, blog, and do the same for my newsletter.
I got started at a young age – I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to create stories. I was blessed with mentors who introduced me to Oregon Christian Writers – I attended my first conference at 13. Getting to study craft through my high school and college years really set me up for success, and by the time I’d graduated and finished my first novel, I’d known my acquisitions editor and agent for years.
2) What one thing do you do every day to move yourself forward and stay focused? Where do you find your inspiration?
Focus is probably one of the things I struggle with the most, because my brain is allergic to it. On one hand, it makes me good at what I do, but on the other, it can be tricky when it comes to settling in and doing the work. So for me, making sure I’m in the book every day, either writing or note-taking – is important. If I’m out for a long time, it’s harder to get that head space back.
As far as inspiration – my brain is a self-perpetuating inspiration machine. Ideas just come. The trick is picking the best idea, the one that most wants to be told, and holding on tight. That’s not to say that I don’t hit writer’s block. I do, often. But when that happens, I’ve got a metal closet full of tactics to get things flowing again. I’m a big believer in handwriting notes.
3) What do you do regularly to take care of yourself?
I have to pace myself. I do my best if I’m sleeping, walking, reading or listening to a good book, cooking for myself, and spending time with people who replenish. Naturally, I can’t do any of those things and write a chapter at the same time. So pacing is important, and doing a little bit of everything keeps things in a balance.
4) How do you keep yourself emotionally balanced while you are pushing forward?
It’s not easy, to be honest. Writing fiction that’s emotionally effective, forces you to be constantly thinking and feeling. So you have to replenish that emotional energy with books and music and art and conversation. Also, sleep.
5) What’s the best part and the worst part of your job?
At the end of the publishing process, I get a physical book that I wrote with my hands and my brain. That’s pretty incredible. No matter how a book has worked me over, the day that I get my author copies delivered is still incredible. Still, it’s a long process full of delayed gratification until then. I think the span between the work and the feedback is one of the hardest things to grapple with. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy making graphics for social media – I can share something and have an instantaneous response. With a book, it’s easily a year of work before more than a handful of people have a chance to respond.
6) What failure taught you the most and what was it?
That’s a tricky question, because I’m not sure I’ve experienced flat-out failure as yet. But there have definitely been setbacks. I’ve gotten manuscripts rejected – once on my birthday – and I’ve had projects not perform as well as I’d hoped. I’ve had some really loud life crises that obliterated my deadlines. All you can do is course-correct as best you can and do the work.
7) If you had to do something different, what would that be?
Graphic design. I really love visual projects, and getting images and type to work together brings me joy in a different way than writing.
8) If you had advice to give to someone else who was thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, what would that be?
Be an expert in your desired field, be inventive, and be prepared to out-stubborn everyone else. I’ve seen people with hopes of entering publishing who clearly haven’t done the work – writing a book isn’t just scribbling words in a field; there’s a lot of craft and intention there. It gets better with practice, but it doesn’t make it easy.
Don’t be so precious about your ideas that you aren’t open to make something better. Knowing how to take an edit is crucial. Be at peace with editing over and over until you’ve got something really extraordinary.
9) What did you have to overcome personally to be able to do what you do?
Well, I’ve written or edited my last four books while moving (we’ve moved a lot, most recently across the country). A lot of the time I have to choose whether I’m going to be awesome at writing or awesome at life – which usually means I’m failing at one or the other at any given time. The longer I’ve been at this, the more I’ve had to learn to be at peace with that fact.
10) Any last parting words?
I listened to a great podcast interview on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books with author Debbie Macomber and really appreciated what she had to say. Debbie wasn’t afraid of being ambitious, wasn’t afraid of the work, and wasn’t afraid of being stubborn until things shook out for her. The moral of the story? Dream big, dream smart!
OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/hmlfiction
Instagram – www.instagram.com/hillarylodge
Pinterest – www.pinterest.com/halliewriter