The Write Way Café welcomes Augustina Van Hoven. Whether writing romance, suspense, or paranormal, she appreciates the importance of relationships in her stories.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
I’ve always wanted to write a book. I love reading and the sensation of being transported to a faraway place. I used to make up many stories to tell around the campfire or at sleepovers when I was younger. My friends encouraged me to follow my dream of writing, but it wasn’t until I was older that I seriously started to write. When I decided to write my first novel, I went back through my favorite books and analyzed what it was about each story that appealed to me. It always came back to the relationships, even books that were not romance.
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
The first research I did was on the history of Boise. Since my heroine died in eighteen eighty-two, I needed to learn everything I could about life in that time. I also spoke to several state legislators concerning the political details. When I finished the book I pitched it at RWA‘s national convention and Boroughs Publishing Group decided to publish it.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
I lot of my inspiration comes from music. I was listening to the radio when ‘Kissed by a Rose’ by Seal came on. The chorus talks about being kissed by a rose on a grave. I had a vision of an old gravestone with snow piled against it and a blood red rose nestled at its base. The rest of the story developed from there.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
The story is set in Boise for two reasons. The first reason is the state legislature meets there. My hero is a state representative and that is where he fights his battles. The second reason is I needed a cemetery that was in use in 1882 and is still accepting new burials in our time, Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise fit the bill.
Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself?
The people from our time are composites of different people I have met in politics. The people from the past are imaginary. I usually put one characteristic of myself in each of my characters. It makes them more real to me.
Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
There were a couple of places where I got stuck on some of the political issues. When I had a problem I would call one of the state legislators that I know and discuss the problem with them. When I needed more inspiration for the story, I went to the cemetery and sat by the angel statue that Rose is based on. The statue is a monument and there really isn’t anyone buried there, but I always had the odd feeling that I was telling the statues story.
What have been surprises you've encountered while writing the book and after?
One of the big surprises I had was the political issue my hero is struggling with actually came up in real life. This past year the Idaho Legislature brought up the idea of removing the sales tax from food. There was not enough support for the bill to make it through both houses, but it will be back again next year.
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about angels, ghosts, and lofty ambitions?
I learned that I have to set a daily writing goal and stick with it. I outline my story and then outline each chapter. If I know what plot points I have to hit, I can get a lot more writing done each day than if I sit down and just wing it.
I mentioned before that the modern day characters are composites of people I have met. I have seen too many politicians let their ambitions and egos drive their actions and it never works out well.
As for the ghosts and angels, I am definitely a believer in both.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
I have a home office where I write. It has an L shaped desk with a credenza on one side. I have my computer monitor on the right and my TV, DVR and DVD player on the left. The walls are lined with bookshelves filled with reference books, reading books, and DVD’s. My desk faces the window and I a beautiful view of my front lawn and the forest beyond it.
It works for me because it contains everything I need. I can close the door and enter my own private world.
What are some of your favorite books and why?
I love fantasy and books with paranormal elements. My absolute favorite book is J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’. I got it for my twelfth birthday and fell in love with it. I love sword and sorcery stories. Magic fascinates me.
I have greatly enjoyed Diana Gaboldon’s Outlander Series. I love the time travel element and the way she weaves her characters into real history.
What are you working on now?
I’ve started a new romantic suspense series involving a detective, a crime lab and a serial killer. It’s a story I’ve been researching for a while and finally have time to write.
Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre? Which one and why?
I have written several books in the paranormal subgenre. I have an urban fantasy series, a time travel series and of course, the ghost series. The urban fantasy and time travel are currently under submission and I hope that both series will come out next year. I already mentioned I’m starting a romantic suspense series. After I have the first book finished in that one I’d like to start a science fiction series, but that depends on my other writing commitments.
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
If I wasn’t a writer I would probably run for political office. Politics is something that has always fascinated me and I’d love to do something where I could make a difference.
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
The time commitment is the hardest. I have to balance writing with my family commitments and a full time day job.
Who is your favorite hero/heroine?
Right now I have a terrible crush on Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series. He is a character who embodies all the aspect of what I think a true hero is.
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About the author: Augustina Van Hoven was born in The Netherlands and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two dogs and three cats. She is an avid reader of romance, science fiction and fantasy. When she’s not writing she likes to work in her garden or, in the winter months, crochet and knit on her knitting machines.
Website Facebook Twitter: @augustinavhoven