Author's in The Spotlight
Once again we are delighted to have an author join us for a chat about their work, this time we get the pleasure of the very talented Hildred Billings
Hildred, can you give us a little background bio about yourself – where you are from, when you became interested in writing and career to date etc?
I’m from Oregon, but not the valley, which most people will think about when they think of Oregon. (Portland, University of Oregon Ducks, etc.) Instead I’m from the south coast, which is a very isolated and natural place. It’s picturesque, but very lonely. I grew up the only child in midst of a bunch of middle-aged people, so I only had my imagination to keep me entertained. I wrote my first “novel” when I was four (it was about my grandmother as a little girl meeting a unicorn.) We got our first computer with a word processor when I was ten and I wrote about ten full-length novels on that thing until we got the internet when I was fourteen.
I’ve written about twenty or more novels in my life, but only started publishing a year ago this month. Most of those old stories will never see the light of day, but I’m grateful that I wrote them. I wouldn’t already be this far in my career without all the experience they brought me.
You created the REN'AI RENSAI (Serial of Love) books, can you tell us a little bit about this collection and the inspiration behind it?
That is a bit complicated, because technically REN’AI RENSAI is a spinoff of a series I haven’t published yet. The main characters, Aiko and Reina, are side characters in this other series, but one day last summer I decided I wanted to explore their relationship. I had just moved back from my third round in Japan, so my brain was full of Japanese culture and the experiences I encountered there. “Daisuki.” ended up being my debut novella, and next thing I knew I had a whole series and its own spinoffs in the works.
All authors have their own way of working; could you give our readers a brief outline of a day in the life of Hildred Billings, author and any methods you may use for writing?
There’s nothing special about it, really. I get up at 3-4 PM (I’m a full-blooded night owl) and spend most of the evening catching up on emails and what’s going on in the world. Depending on where I am in the publishing stage, I may spend most of the night publishing a story or editing one. I don’t usually start writing until 2 am, and I keep writing until I go to bed around 7am. I’ve always been my most creative in the dead of night.
Following on from the question above, what are the tools of your tradesome authors prefer to use the likes of Sigil and Calibre to format and convert their work, can you list any preferred software that you work with?
I write entirely in Word, and do my formatting in Scrivener. I don’t use notes or anything so I’ve never had a use for the fancy bells and whistles in Scrivener.
Hildred, how much involvement do you have in your books' creation once you have finished the writing part, such as editing, cover design or publicity?
I run my own publishing imprint so it’s all me. I subcontract/barter for cover design services (that are mostly my design ideas, but I don’t have the skill to see them through) and editing.
How do you market your books and are some marketing methods better than others?
I mostly just let me books sell themselves, but I am proactive on social media. I have found that tumblr is the best source of finding new readers and staying in touch with them. Just so happens that my target audience hangs out on tumblr all day.
Who are some of your favourite writers and any favourite books?
I grew up reading 20th century fantasy/science fiction authors like Anne McCaffrey, who probably inspired me the most when I started writing full length novels as a kid. These days I don’t commit to too many authors, but I continue to be influenced by the likes of Philip Pullman and have fallen head over heels for Jacqueline Carey these past few years. In literary circles, Amy Tan will always be an auto-buy for me.
How do you judge success as a writer? And do you set yourself any goals or achievements?
Success means that I have dedicated readers who I have been able to reach in some way. It’s cliché to say, but it’s true that when I get fanmail from women who say they really connected with my characters and their situations (particularly dealing with gender identity) I feel like I achieved my goals. Monetarily, I am happy with paying my bills every month and being able to work on my own terms.
Authors like any artist are always trying to produce that masterpiece! What books or projects are you currently working on?
Right now I am gearing up for a new series coming out at the end of September. “Daite.” marks a new series focusing on a new set of characters but in the same familiar universe readers know me for. I’m really excited about this new direction. Next year I will be finishing up the REN’AI RENSAI project (for now) and refocusing on the fantasy series it came from.
One question we hope to ask all authors is what advice would you give on anyone starting out on the self publishing?
I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that very, very few people will find instant success, if great success at all. By this I mean monetary success, but that definition will mean different things for different people. I see a lot of new authors get frustrated and quit. As someone who writes in a low-lying niche at the moment, I know as well as most that you have to stick around to see any lasting results.
Well Hildred that about wraps it up, it’s been a pleasure getting to chat with you and I do hope you keep us up to date with all your news and events
Thank you for having me!
For all our readers and fans wanting to check out some of Hildred Billings’s books or find out some more about this author please visit the following