Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Spotlight: H.B. Moore

Before we get on to our feature presentation (an interview with H.B. Moore, author of Abinadi and Alma), I have a confession to make. Yesterday I bought my book for the weekend. And I finished it several hours ago.

The book in question was The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. I didn't know it was the same author as who wrote the Gregor the Overlander series, which I loved! I knew this book was going to be good. I knew I wouldn't be able to put it down. So I should not have opened it.

I did anyway. MY BAD. Then I stayed up till midnight reading. How could I have known that the baby would wake me up at 4am, and I wouldn't be able to get back to sleep? Well, at least I put the time to good use.

I must add that this is the last weekend I will spend like this. When my husband is home (and he is home next weekend!), I will spend my weekends with him, not a book. Unless it's him and a book, which it often tends to be. (In fact, he might be mad at me for reading this book without him! I might have to read it again.)

And now, for our feature presentation! (Oh, and ignore the font changes in here. HTML illiterate = couldn't figure out how to make everything uniform.) If you missed the reviews of Alma and Abinadi, you can catch them here and here.

me: Hi, H.B. Moore! I'm so excited to have you here today. I love the way historical fiction takes us back to a place and time, shows it to us the way a history book never can. And your books do this with scripture. Why did you decide to write about scriptural history?

H.B. Moore: In 2001, I found myself at a crossroads in my writing. I had two ideas, one for a historical suspense novel set in the mid-1800’s (which I later wrote), the second a fictional account of Nephi and his family. I have long been intrigued by the tidbits I’ve heard in religion classes about Sariah and the women in Lehi and Ishmael’s families. I approached my father (S. Kent Brown), who had published non-fiction works on Lehi and his family, with the idea of fictionalizing Nephi’s story and asked if he was interested in co-writing it. After he hemmed and hawed, I realized I would have to undertake the project myself, knowing all the while that I would be hounding my father for information on a daily basis. I wrote the first five pages almost without stopping to take a breath. Then I brought them to my critique group, anxious about their reaction. They encouraged me to continue writing and assured me that there was room for it in the LDS market.

me: Nice of your dad to back you up! I imagine as you flesh out the lives of these characters, you get to know them on a personal level. Who do you think is your favorite character from the Book of Mormon?

H.B. Moore: I think Nephi’s story is probably my favorite. Although Alma is a close second. I admire their strength, their convictions, and their fortitude in the face of life-threatening challenges. It’s amazing to me that Nephi knew that what he was teaching his brothers would never be accepted. Yet he continued because it was the right thing to do. He had seen the future in a vision and knew that the Lamanites and Nephites would ultimately destroy each other. He moved forward in righteousness, patience, and learning. He wrote on the plates because he knew that thousands of years later, his testimony would change our hearts. You can’t ever discredit a man like that.

me: What LDS writers inspired you?

H.B. Moore: When I had finished my first novel, I went to a League of Utah Writers workshop that was taught by Jeff Savage. If you haven’t heard him speak, he is very motivating (a new career for him if this author stuff doesn’t work out). When I walked out of his class, I literally thought becoming a published author was possible for me. I kept returning to the League classes each month and learned from other published writers. Annette Lyon was the chapter president, and I looked at her and compared myself—we were both moms with 3 kids (she had #4 on the way), and her first book was just coming out. So I took inspiration from her and wanted to grow up to be like Annette.

me: That's so awesome! It's always cool when people actually figure out what they want to be when they grow up. What other writers inspired you?

H.B. Moore: Since I love reading mysteries, Mary Higgins Clark was very inspirational. I read her memoir, “Kitchen Privileges” and Ms. Clark says that she wrote her first novel by writing from 5:00-7:00 in the morning. She was a widow with five young children to support. Amazing! Also, I took a workshop from Rachel Ann Nunes—she said she wrote 2,000 words a day even if it meant staying in her pj’s. Also, when I moved from CA to UT in 2000, my sister-in-law handed me one of Richard Paul Evans’ books. I read it and thought: Wow. There was no mind-numbing suspense, historical research, or literary themes in that book—it was just a simple story told in a poignant way.

me: I can see how those people would be inspirational. They inspire me! I want to be like that. If you could be like one person, who would it be?

H.B. Moore: I would be my 5 year old. “Kitten-garden” sounds great right now. A couple hours of work, then the rest of the day is play-time.

me: Isn't it funny the way kids are? The entire days revolves around playtime. As long as they are constantly engaged, they're happy. But I guess that's how we are too. As long as we're engaged in something good, we're happy. Have you ever had to travel to research your books?

H.B. Moore: My Out of Jerusalem series starts out in Jerusalem (of course). I’ve lived in the Middle East off and on as a child and visited as an adult. But that was all before I started writing. So I haven’t technically traveled to a place that I’ve been currently writing about.

me: Wow, really? I'm jealous! I want to visit there so badly! What's your favorite part about writing?

H.B. Moore: Writing is a major creative outlet for me. Achieving my daily word count goal or some other milestone is very motivating and recharges me for other things in life. I love the first draft process—when everything can change and all ideas are fluid. It’s kind of like walking down the aisle at the fabric store and looking at all the different textures and colors of fabrics, rows of zippers, thread, and buttons. Each fabric choice will bring a different outcome to the project. You feel like there are a hundred different choices, and you just have to pick and choose.

me: I don't love the first draft stage! I'm all about getting it out ASAP so I an start the revisions. That's where the real fun lies! How do you do your revisions? Do you have a critique group?

H.B. Moore: Yes—I found them through the League of Utah Writers. Annette Lyon (mentioned above) announced one evening at the chapter meeting that her group had an opening. I told Annette that I was definitely interested. I had just won the “short story contest” sponsored by the group, so maybe that gave me a good recommendation.

me: What's your dream story (the one you can't wait to write)?

H.B. Moore: Most authors have too many stories to share. In fact, you’ll see some of the really big names out there using co-writers to get it all in. (James Patterson just signed a 17 book deal for the next 3 years, if that tells you anything). I wanted to write the ABINADI book for several years before I actually wrote it. I’ve also written a book that I love called QUEEN—an international thriller about the Queen of Sheba. Still trying to find a publisher for it.

me: If I were a publisher, I'd take it! What do you hope to accomplish as a writer?

H.B. Moore: My writing goals are pretty basic—to be able to continually produce books that I love and the readers will love. I love publishing in the LDS market, and I’d also like to add the national market to my plate.

me: Good for you! I'm glad the LDS market has been so successful for you. I hope you are able to break into the national market, also! That's what I hope to do someday. What do you do besides write?

H.B. Moore: I own an editing company (Precision Editing Group) so that fills in some of the blanks. Other than that, I still read a lot and I enjoy hobbies like sewing and crafty stuff. I spend my days from 3:00 on with the kids, which consists of homework, piano, lots of sports—it’s the season of football and soccer, with volleyball just starting.

me: Yes, I've seen your website for you editing company. You must be so busy! How clean is your house?

H.B. Moore: Right now? We vacuumed and cleaned bathrooms on the weekend. But the laundry is starting to pile up (again), and the kitchen needs a good scrub down!

me: I'm just working on this theory that writers don't like to take the time to clean. At least, that's my excuse. What's your favorite food?

H.B. Moore: My kids think I’m weird—I love soups, tomato soup, onion soup, egg drop soup. And chocolate—M&M Almonds are my fav right now. And anything with shrimp. Last week, I had mesquite grilled shrimp tacos from Rubios. Yum.

me: I'm a soup-a-holic myself. It's all I made for the first month of my marriage. If you weren't a writer, what would you be?

H.B. Moore: My major in college was Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Business Management. The two fields I’ve enjoyed working in the past have been retail and human resources. Retail is very time consuming—weekends, holidays, nights. But when I see the “modest clothing” on-line retailers popping up, I’m intrigued. I shop at them with my girls and am tempted to give them tips, but don’t. Human resources is very interesting, and if I had to ever work an 8-5 job, that would be it. But I’m happy to be in a very flexible job right now.

me: I'm so happy to see the modest clothing lines. (First I wrote clothes lines, but that didn't sound right.) Most are kind of pricey, but they have good sales. You're so versatile. Good for you for finding and doing what you like! Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. I'll watch for your next book, for sure!

I have officially passed 50K! It took me almost six weeks to get here. That means about the end of October, I should be wrapping things up!

Sequel Stats:
today's goal: 51,443
actual: 51,544
Monday's goal: 53,544


Kate said...

I just got The Hunger Games from the library. (I had it on hold.) I'm scared to open it because I know I won't be able to put it down.

Very fun and informative interview.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Be ready to devote a solid 8 hours of your life to reading, Kate. It's that good.

Stephanie Faris said...

Great interview! I'm still curious, though, how you and your husband read a book together. Do you each have your own copy and read each part at the same time, then discuss it as you go?

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Steph--I read out loud to him. :) We usually do it late at night or in the car. Sometimes if my voice gets hoarse, he reads (like when Harry Potter 7 came out and we read it straight through--after six hours of reading he had to take over). It's one of our favorite activities.

LMJ said...


I read books to my hubby as well because he hates reading. He will only read if I read to him with the voices and all.

That is how I got him to read Profiles in Courage, which was something that interested him, but was too lazy to read it.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

LMJ--this was how I got him to read Harry Potter at all. when we were dating and he told me he hadn't read them, I flipped. He agreed to read them if I read it to him. I think he only agreed for my sake. Of course by chapter 6, all he cared about was the story. :)

We just kept on reading after that.

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