Friday, November 15, 2013

Interview: Paula Hrbacek

Greetings humans, half-breeds, and everything in between. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Paula Hrbacek. A good time was truly had by all and here’s how it went down.
provided by author

Hi there Paula! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ECS Blog. Don’t worry about the darkness, your eyes will adjust.

So tell me, who is Paula Hrbacek?

provided by author
I double majored in journalism and art at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  After that, I worked for a book publisher, Christian Board ofPublication, for five years in the advertising department.  Then I became a stay-at-home mother of four, a scout leader, and wrote on a freelance basis.  I’ve published five books so far: St. Louis Is for Families- BethanyPress, Created In Faith- Concordia, Bible Verses for Young Children- CBP Press, Stars Shine After Dark- IUniverse, and DayCamp in Hawaii- Create Space. I also write two newspaper columns for The Examiner, a free online newspaper: one about children’s arts and crafts and the other about books and book reviews.

You are one busy bee. I can’t imagine doing all you do with four kids. Kudos to you! Can’t wait to see what you have to share.

So whacha got for me today?

provided by author
Stars Shine After Dark, is a sweet love story that has faith woven through the plot and used as a means of making decisions.  Faith is the compass that guides them through their problems.

Mona is an actress who grew up in Hollywood.  Trying to revamp her image from a child actor to a mature woman, she decides to go to college. There she meets Tim, a football star for UCLA.

They are both stars and both successful.  It should be a fairy tale romance, but soon overwhelming obstacles begin to test their relationship.

Mona finds relief by reading the book of Hosea.  She realizes that she has lost sight of what is really important to her, and decides to change her relationship with Tim.  They may have been going through a dark period, but if they are stars, they will find a way to keep their love shining.

I think everyone can relate to a love story in some way. For many, love stories allow secret contemplation about their own relationships by offering another point of view, a variety of scenarios, and possible solutions to past, present, or future issues to be had. Most importantly, love stories deliver all this a nice sweet package that can be picked up or put away a will. I think you have really something special to share with this story.

So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of Stars Shine After Dark?

Mona Poole is a young woman who grew up in Hollywood acting.  She wants to take some time off and have a “normal” life, examine what she wants to do next, and try to get a more mature image.  She enrolls at UCLA, and becomes friends with her agent’s niece.  On the one hand, she’s an old pro at handling business, but on the other hand, she’s a newbie when it comes to college life.  She’s used to having her parents act as her managers, but they have decided to move because of her father’s health, leaving her in total charge for the first time.  So, she’s a strong woman, but also a chick that has just been pushed out of the nest.

Even with the presence of relationship drama, this sounds like a pretty positive story about a child actress, and we all know we need more of these. I think Mona is a character that most people in this day and age can relate to on some level if only as yet another child star desperately try to make that transition into adulthood with grace.

Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

When I write I start with the problem, then the solution, and then I start working backwards. Who would get themselves in that mess, why, where, how, when?  Once I have all of that set in my mind, I write a short story, very quickly, just to get the plot organized.  Then, I’ll go back and fill in all the details, dialogue, descriptions and emotions that are needed to flesh it out.

When I was working on Stars Shine After Dark, I had the radio
playing country music in the background.  It seemed that every time I got stuck for a good idea, a song would come on the radio that contained the answer.  There has to be a dozen country songs hidden in the plot—a scene where “the windshield wipers are slapping out a tempo” like EddieRabbitt’s song, a conversation where she talks “woman to woman” like TammyWynette, that sort of thing.  Of course, they aren’t direct quotes from the song, just the same general idea.  It was reassuring how when I needed a good idea, I got one at the right moment that way.

I like your methodology. It’s very organized. It’s cool too how you use music to inspire you. I like quiet when I write, but whenever I get stumped on a particular idea, that’s when I pull out my soundtracks. There a movie and theme music for every emotion and scenario there.

What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?

I read a variety of books and authors, trying to learn what I can from each one.  But as far as inspiration for a story goes, I used to get a lot of good ideas from Dear Abby.  I thought her advice was lousy, so instead of arguing with her, I’d turn it into a fictional story.  I sold one of those to Modern Romance magazine years ago.

Well that’s one to get inspired. Who said inspiration has to come from someplace positive. Many of the greatest inventions of our time where inspired by frustration and need, not desire.

Whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

A quote I like is “I know God has a plan for my life, but when I get to Heaven, he’s got some explaining to do.”  I guess my answer would be God and I think my questions would be “what time is it?” Is this a time to help the poor or a time to shake the sand off of my sandals when I leave?  Is it time to forgive, or time to rebuke the sinner?

I hear ya. Sometimes I wish I could just ask God about the things that no one else can even begin to understand. Good answer.

Who is so you and why?

I read ErnestHemingway’s biography, and except that I’m a girl and he’s a boy, we have a lot in common.  We’re both the youngest, having two older siblings of the opposite sex.  My mother made me wear my brother’s hand-me-downs, my father was dramatic, my grandmother had a cottage on a finger lake near Lake Erie, and a few other things.  I mentioned this to my husband, and he became concerned because Ernest committed suicide.  I assured him that his death occurred after him having had three wives and that I’m only on my first husband.

A female Hemingway with less drama doesn’t sound too bad.

What’s your ideal reading spot for your next highly anticipated read?

The ideal spot is laid out on the sofa with a fuzzy afghan and a soft pillow on a rainy day in the spring, or the first week after school gets out, lying on a chase lounge in the back yard.  I like paperbacks best.  But the reality is that when an author asks for a book review, they send me a Kindle file.  Then I take it with me when I volunteer at our church’s gift shop and read it while sitting in an office chair, waiting for customers.  I don’t do audio books because I’m hard of hearing. I have a lot going on personally right now, so aside from a little promotion I’m doing, I’m taking it easy. I’m not really reading anything at the moment.

Comfort seems to be a priority when you’re reading and there’s nothing wrong with that. Too bad you can take full advantage of audio books. I prefer audio books to TV; seriously I either: read for entertainment, listen for entertainment, or watch a movie. TV almost doesn’t exist to me anymore. I know what it’s like to have a lot going one. That’s why reading for pleasure is great. You don’t have to do it until you want to.

What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

In elementary school, I like the series of books about a boy named Henry [HenryHiggins] who had a donut machine.  I liked it because he solved a problem in a different way.  He didn’t give up. I also had a favorite craft book for children that used a lot of recycled goods like bottle caps and corks.  I think I made just about every project in that book. 

My favorite magazine as a girl was “Boy’s Life”.  When I was in high school, my favorite magazine was “Parents’”

You don’t hear of too many teen reading “Parents” for fun, but everyone got their own thing. I remember reading about Henry Higgins when I was little too...Now this is where the questions get a little kooky; are you ready?


Alright then, here we go.

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?

You’veGot Mail. I can identify with the character because she’s a shy woman who has to get tough to survive.  She fights for what she believes in, and finally realizes that she’s fighting for her mother’s dream, not her own.  Then she starts her own dream of being a writer.  What she learned fighting to keep her store open will come in handy as she enters the world of publishing.  You have to “go to the mats” over and over until you get accepted.  So, maybe she lost the first battle, but she learned and gained a lot from it, including a very handsome boyfriend.

That’s a really good movie and one of the few film remakes that’s better than the original (The Shop Around the Corner). Nice choice.

What makes you geek out?

Touchedby an Angel; I wish they’d do something like that again.

My mom used to love this show. I watched it from time to time and always enjoyed it. Good wholesome programming.

So what’s testing your patience right now?

Computer skills have always been my stumbling block.  I’m constantly being challenged to learn more of those skills in order to achieve my goals.  Sometimes it feels like a race where they keep moving the finish line.  First it was learning to use Word, then it was HTML, and now it’s ebook formatting.  There’s always another skill an author has to learn in order to keep up with the demands of the business.

I also have a finished novel that I’m trying to market, On Higher Ground.  I’ve had two interested editors so far, but it still didn’t make the final cut.  I think it’s a great book.  Now, I’m trying to find an editor or agent that will agree with me and take it on.

Three out of four of my children are married and have children, so I’m making the transition from mother to grandmother.  I’ve got more time for myself now, which is something I was always looking forward to. 

I know what you mean about learning new skills. It seems that as a writer you also become the perpetual student. We’ve discussed On Higher Ground a little and it sounds like a wonderful story; surely someone will pick it up soon…Oh and congrats on grandmotherhood.

When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?

The song that sums up my entire married life is “Remember When
<=listen by Alan Jackson.  The one that makes me cry the most at this point of my life is “You’reGonna Miss This<=listen by Trace Atkins. The music I like least is rap, unless I happen to be in a roller skating rink at the time.

Well now, I’ve got me a country fan. Nice. I’ve had many people tell me they don’t like rap, but the roller skating rink part is new. Tell me about this.

I have four children, and the most common birthday party among their friends was the roller skating rink.  If you rent your own skates, you can join in on the fun, so I always rented skates, too.  I can’t do much, just go around in ovals, but a good rhythm pattern makes skating easier and more fun.  It’s like dancing on wheels.

Pretty cool; I like it.

What’s the most fun experience you’ve ever had, to date?

That would have to be my brother-in-law’s first wedding—an Italian feast in a fancy hall in Great Neck Long Island.  Anyone who has been to an Italian wedding in Long Island knows what I mean.  The rest of you haven’t lived yet.  The food took up tables and tables, and the Italians taught us how to eat the way they do—don’t eat: TASTE!  Taste this, taste that, taste that… Everything was so good I hiccupped all night long.

Sounds like a good time and definitely some good food.

Not that you can see into the future, but in your opinion, what does the future hold?

I hope I’ve published many stories and a few more books, all of which are deemed to be helpful and uplifting by the people who read them.  And a few more grandkids would be nice, too.

That sounds nice and sweet. What a pleasant future to hope for.

Well, Paul, thank you for stopping by to share with me and my readers today. 

Ok humans, half-breeds, and everything in between, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Paula Hrbacek, check out these great links:

Website: Paula Hrbacek: Christian Fiction and Craft Projects
Facebook: PaulaHrbacek
Twitter: @PHrbacek
Purchase links for Stars Shine After Dark: Amazon, Kindle, Nook

Today, Paula has so graciously offered a FREE Kindle edition of Stars Shine After Dark to one lucky commenter. So be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win your free ebook. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Click below to share your reactions and more. Remember, I’ll be moving to the ToiBox full-time soon, so please, stop by to check it out. Until next time, Toi Thomas. #cursescanbebroken #thetoiboxofwords