My name is H. B. Butler and I live in a small, rural town in Northern NSW, Australia with my boyfriend. I have spent the majority of my life with my head stuck in a book (I won’t count the first couple of years of life) and always dreamed of writing books one day. A couple of years ago I finally took the plunge, and thus began my Sandy Plains Series and this crazy author life.
When I’m not busy reading and writing I enjoy cooking, gardening (it’s a new hobby) and dreaming of holiday destinations I one day hope to see.
Now on with the interview...
ME: What is your favorite childhood book?
H.B: Anything by Enid Blyton, I have read all of her books as a child. I especially loved the ‘Faraway Tree Series’.
ME: Oh, my daughter's grade one class just finished "the Faraway tree". What is the first book that made you cry?
H.B: Oh wow, this is a tough one, I’m a total crier when it comes to books (and movies). Probably ‘The Power of One’ by Bryce Courtenay when I was a teenager, such an incredibly powerful and emotional book.
ME: Is writing your primary 'job' or do you have another source of income?
H.B: I would love it if writing could be my primary profession (maybe one day), Lord knows I would get a lot more of it done, but I also work as an early childhood educator and cook full time.
ME: Busy bee. Do people around you know you write romance/erotica and what do they think about it?
H.B: Yep, my friends and family all know I’m a romance author and they have been very
supportive! A lot of them have read my work too, except my Dad, he prefers to pretend I know nothing about romance and sex.
ME: LOL, dads. Do you believe in writer’s block? If not why not? And if so what suggestions do you have to start the juices flowing again.
H.B: I do believe, and unfortunately suffer from it from time to time. When it does happen I like to listen to music that fits the theme of the novel I’m writing, or write something else, funnily enough writing something different can really help clear the blockage.
ME: Let's talk about your process for a bit. Are you a plotter or fly by the seat of your pants kind of writer?
H.B: A little of both.
I generally have a rough idea of what I want to happen throughout the novel, the main plot points if you will, and jot them down. From there I just let it flow. Sometimes my main plots change, or the characters throw me a bit of a curve ball in between, but overall the story turns out the way I imagined.
ME: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
H.B: It depends on the themes in the book. I have researched for all my books, some more than others. Recently I’ve enjoyed researching North Carolina; I tend to create a lot of towns (or venues in real towns) to give myself a little more push and pull with the setup of the place, but they’re all based somewhat off real life places.
I’ve also just started browsing 1950’s Hollywood bungalows and Vegas penthouses which has been so different and fun.
One of my future books is going to need a lot of research around a certain medical trauma, so I can see a lot of time going into that when the time comes.
ME: Would you rather write standalones, standalones with connections to your other works, or multi book series with no true conclusion until the very end?
H.B: With my writing so far I’ve written standalones with connections to my other works (Sandy Plains series), and my current WIP is a standalone. I may venture into multi book series one day, but no plans at this stage.
ME: Where do your story ideas come from?
H.B: So far my books all have some sort of personal connection, whether it be from my life or my friends/families lives.
I like trying to deal with everyday issues in my novels, I attempt to bring awareness to some of the harder topics is life such as domestic violence, mental illness etc.
I do try to keep it from getting too heavy though.
ME: Do you ever base your characters, events or locations on real people, events or places?
H.B: Events, locations and places definitely yes. There’s a rural town show in my first novel, Breaking the Barrier, that is based on the show we have in my own real life rural, small town. It was fun to write, and before I published it, I got my sister-in-law to read a copy (not knowing I had written it) and she even commented that the show in there reminded her of the one we have. That was when it all came out I was writing books as she began questioning me on who had written the book and whether they were local.
As for the characters, I have some celebrity muses that I use to base their looks on, but that’s about as far as it goes.
ME: Is there a character in one of your books loosely based off yourself?
H.B: Not in a currently published book, but in an upcoming novel there is a character that is loosely based on myself.
ME: Oh, let me at it :) What process do you use for selecting the names of your characters?
H.B: So far the names have just come to me, there hasn’t been a real process to it. I just choose names I like. I usually come up with a first name then hunt about for a surname that fits.
ME: Who has been your most difficult character to write so far?
H.B: Hmm that’s a good one, probably Logan in Breaking Away. Mainly because it was my second book and I didn’t want him to end up too similar to the hero, Jamie, in my first book. I wanted him to be a bit standoffish and gruff, but still likable. In my first draft he was far too sweet straight away.
ME: Have you ever killed off someone who pissed you off in one of your books?
H.B: Not at this stage.
ME: That sounds ominous... What was your hardest scene to write?
H.B: There is a funeral scene in one of my books that was really difficult to write as I had just lost my father-in-law and the emotions were quite raw. The first draft was quite emotionless as I was holding back my own emotions, but I eventually got it to a point I was happy with.
ME: :'( Does writing energize or exhaust you, and why?
H.B: It can go both ways for me.
Initially I’m energized; I just kind of get into a zone and go flat out, then after I’m left feeling pumped. It can be a pain in the rear when it’s night time as I tend to spend the rest of the night tossing and turning, with the characters speaking to me, new ideas popping up etc. So then I wake up the next day feeling exhausted.
ME: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal, and why?
H.B: Probably a butterfly as I like the characters in my books to go through some sort of transformation, whether that be mentally, emotionally etc.
I like to see them grow into beautiful butterflies so to speak.
ME: Time for a little advice for the budding writers out there. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
H.B: Don’t be afraid, just do it! It’s not as scary as you think putting yourself out there and people might even like it ;).
ME: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
H.B: As a very new writer I’m sure there’s still a few for me to fall into, but I would think trying to do things on the cheap would be a big one to fall into.
I’m not saying it needs to cost an arm and a leg to write and publish a book, but it will help you in the long run if you spend money on the important things like an editor, proofreader, the right cover.
You get what you pay for comes to mind.
ME: What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
H.B: So far in my short writing career, my cover designer.
I had bought one of those pre-made covers for my first book and really wasn’t loving it. Then I found Graphics Covered and I haven’t looked back. The girls there really get my vision and put together an amazing cover every time, without having even read the book yet.
ME: Thanks for your time, H.B. it was great to chat and I look forward to seeing you at RTC2018!