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Interview with Sharon Hinck

I first met Sharon at a Christian writers’ function in Minnesota. I had the privilege of attending one of the book signings for her first novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller. We talked about fantasy together back then, and I adored her first fantasy series, The Sword of Lyric Series. I just received my pre-ordered copy of Dream of Kings, and I can’t wait to get into it.

Thank you, Sharon, for agreeing to join us here for an ACFW interview and for allowing me to pick your brain.

Tell us about yourself, including something that is not on your website.
Whew! I put a lot on my website, including “The Secret Life of Sharon Hinck” tidbits. But here’s something I don’t think I mentioned anywhere: I love watching artistic competition shows on television featuring pottery, cooking, baking, glass-blowing, fashion design, etc. I was so inspired by watching a glass-blowing show recently that I included a glass art scene in my latest novel, Dream of Kings.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
One of my favorite treats is having a friend over for a cup of tea and a lovely conversation. When that isn’t possible, a phone call or zoom chat is also a treasure. I love hearing from my grandchildren and catching up with my busy grown children. I love to take a stroll with my hubby, putter in the garden, or play piano.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I try to let my characters be raw and real as far as their suffering, mistakes, failures, and questions. But I also show them encountering the One who loves them most and has been at work in their lives even when they couldn’t see it. There are moments of grace and worship and transformation that are my favorite aspects of the stories. I write “stories for the hero in all of us” because I love being inspired by characters experiencing big adventures and even bigger mercy from our Creator.

What led you to choose the fantasy genre?
When I started to write my first novel, The Restorer (not the first to be published, but the first that I wrote), I thought about some of the novels that had moved me the most deeply over the years. I was inspired by C.S. Lewis, Calvin Miller, Stephen Lawhead, Madeleine L’engle, and many other fantasy authors. I have always believed that the fantasy genre gives us unique opportunities to see common struggles of life from a completely new perspective. I had such fun letting my imagination play and created a new take on the classic fantasy, with a middle-American soccer mom being pulled into an alternate world waiting for a promised Restorer.

When a door didn’t open for fantasy at that time, I wrote contemporary women’s fiction. But even in that genre, my first published novel at Bethany House, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, contained Becky’s fantastical daydreams. Eventually, The Restorer (and the rest of the Sword of Lyric series) was published and is still in print with Enclave.

When it was time to think of a new series, my agent suggested I draw from my background in dance and my love for fantasy, and Hidden Current (and the rest of The Dancing Realms trilogy) was born. Once that released, I wrote a stand-alone epic fantasy, Dream of Kings, inspired by one of my favorite stories in Genesis.

How do you navigate writing/selling multiple genres? Have you experienced any pushback on that?
Early on, I heard the tip that I should look at my bookshelves and see what I most loved to read, and that would be the genre I should choose. That didn’t help me at all, since I had nearly every possible genre on my shelves and loved them all! These days I have focused primarily on fantasy, although I call it “accessible” fantasy – written for readers who perhaps haven’t yet dipped their toes into the speculative genre before but can relate to the heroines.

My protagonists reflect the women I know who have been thrust into adventures they didn’t feel ready for (a parent with Alzheimer’s, a child with autism, a friend with terminal cancer, a husband’s job loss, etc.) Watching the noble and brave choices of a character in a fantasy novel can inspire and encourage us when we’re facing those challenging Journeys.

I was told early on to choose a lane and stick with it, and that is great advice. I just took a bit of a circular path, and I don’t regret it. Each story I’ve written has been the story God gave me at the time. But if you have a passion for one genre, by all means cultivate that narrow focus. It will help you find your readership.

What did you learn along the way to publication that made it click for you? Or had the biggest impact on your success?
Writer’s conferences were a tremendous gift to me when I was able to attend them. One mentor suggested picking a national conference and attending that same one every year, as a way to build relationships and continue to grow as a writer. The ACFW conference was a huge part of finding critique buddies, chatting with editors, and hearing what various publishing houses were interested in. More than that, it provided emotional and spiritual fuel to keep going during those discouraging times we all face.

What do you usually add in (or change) during the editing phase? How many edits do you usually do before you send it off?
Oh, so many! When I sit down to write new material, I often revise the work of the day before. So every page goes through many rewrites by the time I write, “The End.” Then I do several self-editing passes, checking to see if the scene structure is working, if the characters’ motivations are plausible, if the prose is tight and strong. I tend to write lean the first draft, so I go back through to add in sensory descriptions. Then the manuscript goes to my trusted critique buddies. I often do major rewrites based on their concerns and notes. After a few more passes, it goes to my publisher and then the editorial process BEGINS.

What kind of research do you do for a typical fantasy novel? Where do you do your research?
Each novel is different. For the Sword of Lyric series, I watched behind the scenes videos of a top sword-fight choreographer and dug into Old Testament accounts about Deborah and Gideon.

For the Dancing Realms series, I listened to podcasts about cults to help form the Order my protagonist had to escape. Writing fantasy gives me freedom to create my own world, nations, plants, foods, animals, geography, cultures, etc. But I work to help those choices make sense and stay consistent within that created world. I had fun creating a tea blend to represent “clavo” – the drink characters enjoy in The Restorer. For Hidden Current I blended a citrus herbal tea to taste like “tsalla” – the favored drink for those characters. In Dream of Kings, Jolan craves “quoca” from her home country, and I found a chocolate tea that gives a hint of that flavor.

But when I think about the fantasy world-building, I look for ways that the setting can reflect the themes of the story. The perpetual cloud cover in the Sword of Lyric series is symbolic of the spiritual darkness the people face. The floating island world in the Dancing Realm series reflects trusting God to direct the current of our lives.

What does your writing routine look like? Do you have any idiosyncrasies that keep you going?
An important part of my writing rhythm is a Monday-morning check-in with writing buddies. We pray for each other and share what we will be working on during the week. I tend to write in the morning. When I’m feeling stuck, I sometimes set a timer for fifteen minutes and just write – giving myself permission to write a mess and fix it later. And I often find that once I’ve written for fifteen minutes, I can keep going.

What advice would you give to new authors, or authors who are not new, but have struggled to keep at it in the face of obstacles?
Count the cost. Go into it knowing you will face discouragement and obstacles. You’ll be misunderstood. You’ll grapple to find the right words and feel frustrated when the story on the page doesn’t yet match what you envision. But if you write for the audience of One, the time and effort will be worthwhile.

Finish this sentence: “Every author should know___________________.”
That God loves you so much that He enjoys fellowship with you in the creative process of writing. He is good at multitasking. While you work on a story to entertain and inspire readers, He is also drawing you closer to Him. As you explore themes in your stories, He is shaping those themes in your life.
Terri Thompson is an author, foodie, nature lover and philanthropist. She loves walks along the beach at sunset, dancing in the living room with her grandchildren, the beauty of flavors expertly combined, and the joy of words creatively knit together to bring truth to life. She blogs about writing, life and inspiration at To learn about the non-profits supported by the H. G. Clay Foundation go to

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