Thank you so much for doing this interview with me! Here are my questions. Sorry if it’s a lot, but I’ve always wanted to interview you!
H: Tell us a little about yourself: Who are you? Where are you from? What do you like? What do you do?
AH: I’m just a wife and a mom. My coolest claim to fame is that I know Gladys Knight and sang in her choir for seven years. She’s a fantastic lady and an amazing inspiration. I write, I take care of my kids, I love to do research and I adore a good love story. I love food and books and music, not necessarily in that order. I grew up in Utah, lived in Las Vegas for ten years and moved back to Utah four years ago.
H: When did you start writing? Why?
AH: I’ve always been a writer. Poetry, song lyrics, essays. But I didn’t start writing in earnest until about eight years ago. I started publishing because I was desperate. We were seriously broke, I had a new baby, my oldest was in and out of the hospital, and my husband was working in another state. Things had to change, and I jumped in with both feet and published a book I’d written years before. (Running Barefoot)
AH: Some people say I have a more literary style, and I guess that makes sense. I love words. I like the beauty of language and saying things in a different way. I don’t think I’m better than other writers out there, I just think I’m different. My focus is different. My focus in a love story isn’t on the sex – my focus is always on the emotion.
H: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
AH: Hmm. I have always known I was a writer. That is just part of my make-up. Words are everything to me. But an author? It’s just now starting to sink in. I think when I hit the NY Times list with A Different Blue I knew I had made my mark.
H: What do you read for fun?
AH: I love all types of romance, but I’m always in search of a really well-written romance that doesn’t fall back on clichés or tired storylines or total dependence on number of sex scenes or shock value to pull readers in. I can usually tell within the first page if a book is going to do it for me, and it’s all about the writing. My kindle is full of romances and that’s what I do when I’m not working. I’m searching for the next gem.
H: Let’s talk about The Law of Moses for a bit. I’d like to begin with a topic that’s sort of contentious around the blogosphere: the genre. Booksellers have classified it as inspirational romance or simply romance, but some readers aren’t satisfied with that, and think it should be called ‘paranormal.’ I personally would’ve just put in the fiction or literary fiction section (as I would all your books), and called it a day. How do you classify this book?
AH: That “controversy” really surprised me. I’ve read lots of paranormal romance, and TLoM isn’t that. On Amazon it’s categorized in psychological fiction, metaphysical fiction, inspirational fiction, romantic suspense, interracial romance, and a few others. I think labeling is a major problem in the world in general. I hate labels. You may have noticed that, Cristal. In all of my books my characters rant about labels or stereotypes at least once. It’s a pet-peeve of mine. It’s why I don’t have a publishing contract in the US. In the words of many publishers who have liked my work, “They don’t know how to categorize me.” They don’t know what box to put me in.
H: Where do you get your inspiration from?
AH: Lots of things. There’s never one inspiration. People are built from their experiences, their DNA, their choices, etc. And characters are built the same way, only I have to create their experiences, their choices, their DNA, so to speak. It’s in the creating of the characters that the inspiration comes.
H: There’s a spiritual element that’s woven into The Law of Moses, and I believe all your other books, although more so in Moses. Why is this a recurring theme in your stories?
AH: I can’t help it. I really can’t. For me leaving out spiritual things is like leaving the icing off the cake. Life is so much more meaningful and beautiful and bearable if you allow yourself to look beyond the surface, if you open your heart to things you can’t see but things you feel in your spirit are true. I don’t want to convert anyone to my way of thinking. But I can no more write a book without an element of spiritualism than I could sing a song with only two notes.
H: So Moses is a POC (person of color), as is Samuel in Running Barefoot, Blue in A Different Blue, and Ambrose in Making Faces. You’ve also had characters with disabilities, and characters that aren’t romance novel perfect. I love that your characters are diverse and that it’s not an insignificant detail in your stories – it’s very important to me, and I’m sure to other readers. I also love that you incorporate their histories into each story. I don’t really have a question here, I just wanted to say that it’s one of the many reasons why I look forward to your books, and I wish other authors would incorporate more diversity into their stories.
AH: Amen, sister. In the words of Moses, “Everyone always talks about being color blind. And I get that. I do. But maybe instead of being color blind, we should celebrate color, in all its shades. It kind of bugs me that we’re supposed to ignore our differences like we don’t see them, when seeing them doesn’t have to be a negative.”
H: Moses paints, Fern writes, Bonnie sings, Blue carves wood, and Darcy plays the cello…you see where I’m going with this? Your leads are pretty artsy, and it’s an important facet of their personalities - which I love - but I wonder if any of them do silly things like play video games or watch reality TV in their spare time.
AH: Ha ha. I don’t play video games. So that’s a hard one for me. I love beauty in all its forms. I don’t even watch TV (sorry dudes). I didn’t have a TV growing up, and I just never got into the habit. I will have to do some research and come back to you. LOL.
H: What else are you working on?
AH: I want to write Tag’s story and Dr. Noah Andelin’s story. Both of these characters are from The Law of Moses, and I have very clear stories in mind for both.
H: Where do your ideas come from?
AH: Building a book is like putting together a puzzle. I get my ideas piece by piece.
H: What’s the last book that blew your mind?
AH: Oh man. I’m so picky. I thought the writing in Unteachable by Leah Raeder was gorgeous. I loved the story in Ugly Love, I wept in Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes – which I never do (picky, picky, picky) and I marveled at Tarryn Fisher’s moxie in Mud Vein. She doesn’t write likable characters and I kind of love that about her.
H: What’s your favorite dessert?
AH: Cake. Hands down. Layers, frosting, chocolate, vanilla, doesn’t matter.
H: What’s your favorite song?
AH: I have a bunch. There’s a song called Isaiah by Noah Gundersen that I love. My son, Paul Travis writes amazing music too. But I also love Billie Jean by Michael Jackson and Kiss by Prince. I love The Killers and U2, can’t get enough of Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith, but love the lyrics of almost every Willie Nelson song. I love Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and Beethoven. But I also secretly adore Eminem. So you get the idea. I am a music lover.
H: Which of your books was the hardest to write? Which was the most fun?
AH: Infinity + One was the most fun. It was also difficult because of the math component. Running Barefoot was the most enjoyable because I had no expectations for myself and no plans to publish it. I just did it for me. Making Faces was incredibly stressful and so was The Law of Moses, both for different reasons. I think it just gets harder and harder as you go. The pressure intensifies and people expect so much.
H: If you could recommend only one book for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
AH: There’s a book called the Peacegiver. Non-fiction. Self-help. Beautiful. It blew my mind when I read it and it changed my heart.