Trice Hickman: Love is Better the Second Time Around.
J.D Myall spoke with award-winning, author Trice Hickman about writing, faith, and her recent engagement.
Like most of us, Trice Hickman has experienced hardship, loss, and heartbreak. She spun all of those experiences into a string of bestselling novels. She penned her first novel, Unexpected Interruptions. Then, she started her own publishing company, Platinum Books. After years of dedication and hard work her struggles were reworded. Trice went on to become a writer with Kensington Press. Now, with a recent proposal from the man of her dreams; it seems she may be writing her own happy ending.
Tell me about your literary journey. How did you begin writing?
“Storytelling is part of your heritage if you’re from the south. You grow up listening to stories. I developed a love of reading early. When I went to college the love writing books came into my mind. I went through writers block for many years. I had a low point in my life when I was recovering from a major surgery. I got laid off during the holidays and was looking for work. I prayed for something to do. Then one day the spirit told me to open a word document and start writing. I sat at my computer and I didn’t move except to go to the bathroom and get something to eat. I wrote all day and into the next morning. In the end I had a chapter of my book written. I believe in divine order. I believe things happen when they are supposed to. So many things were up in the air and I needed a safety net. God sent writing to be that safety net.”
Are you a plotter or a pant-ser?
I do more outlining now. With each book I become more proficient in how I write. I consistently create a biography for each one of my characters. That helps me tell their stories in their own voices. It makes the writing more authentic this way. I outline chapters to give me an idea of where I am going.
Hardest sentence to write first or last?
The opening sentence because you have to grab the readers right away. When people open up the first page of a book you have thirty seconds to grab them with the first couple of lines.
How did you start your publishing journey?
I believed in my writing. I saved and did it on my own after being rejected by every literary agent out there. I researched publishing, started my own small press and published myself. When my books became successful Kensington Press found me. They signed me to write under their Dafina imprint.
What do you think made Kensington choose you over other self-published authors?
My work ethic. At that time self-publishing wasn’t highly viewed. People were producing books that looked homemade. The editor said she could tell I did my research and my book looked professionally made. Now a book is a book. More self-publishers have become very professional.
Best writing advice you have ever heard?
Write for your characters not your readers. Never write for an audience. Ten different readers will have ten different opinions. Stay true to the characters and the right readers will find them.
What character from your books is the most like you?
I am piece of each one of my female characters. I have the determination of Victoria from my first novel. I have the sensitivity and vulnerability of Emily from my third novel. I have the grit and toughness of Samantha. I can look at different characters from my novels and know that I have a piece of each of them. Each one of them has a piece of me too.
What inspires your male characters? Are they based on your fathers, brothers, lovers or your idealized man?
There is not one particular person that I based my male characters on. Every one of my main male characters are good men. My books have some men that are low down, but the male leads are good. We don’t see that representation a lot. I write men that treat women the way I would like men to treat me. They have the dependability, responsibility, and consistency of my father. I can absolutely say that when I look at a character like in Ed from my novel Playing the Hand Your Dealt. Ed as a family man. He was consistent. He was a protector and provider like my father. My new found love is very much like that as well. My engagement to the man who is the love of my life amazes me. It shows me how we gravitate toward men that are similar to the men in our lives. Todd, my fiancée, is truly a family man. He is consistent, responsible, vulnerable and strong. I know, moving forward, that I will write many of my male characters with him in mind.
How did you meet the man of your dreams?
We knew of each other thirty years ago when we were undergrad students. We never had a conversation. A few years ago at homecoming we were at a party and dancing. I slipped and he swooped me up and we kept dancing like nothing happened. So, I like to say he literally swept me off my feet.
Tell me about the proposal.
It was so romantic. We planned a trip to Vegas and I was gonna cancel because of the shootings there. I decided we should go to celebrate life. He had made reservations at a restaurant called Top of The World. After we ate we went up to a more private lounge area because he knows how shy I am. We sipped wine. Later he got down on one knee and said, “We are at the top of the world and you have changed my world. Will you be my wife?” I was completely surprised by the proposal. It turned out he did ask my father for my hand first. His daughter, my new daughter, even helped him plan his proposal, so he is definitely a family man. I was so excited I didn’t even look at the ring at first. I just saw the box. It felt magical. I blocked out everything and everyone in that moment except for him. People around us clapped and congratulated us. I felt like there was a glow of love inside of me. I divorced my first husband after twenty years before I met the man I am going to marry. Trust me when I tell you, love is better the second time around. I hope women keep their hearts and minds open because it’s never too late to be loved. We weren’t meant to go through life alone. We have to be open to other people. I prayed for my soon to be husband. I was very specific in my prayer and I believe God heard my prayers and sent me who I needed when I needed him.
Do you feel that your current romance will alter your writing? Will there be more romance novels?
Yes. I want to write about the struggles of losing love and finding love again. Particularly for women of a certain age. A lot of books focus on young twenty and thirty something’s trying to find themselves. How about vibrant women in their forties, fifties, or sixties? We still have needs and sexual lives and it’s not talked about. Right now my story plot is about two women. There is young woman and a woman in midlife. The older character is divorced and trying to find a meaningful relationship in the era of text messaging and internet dating. I want to explore what that looks like. I like to explore the raw human condition including our flaws. When you invest your all into a relationship and then have to start over from scratch it’s a scary thing; a humbling experience. I wanted to explore that. Had I never stepped out on faith and started over in my life… I wouldn’t have the happiness that I have now. Sometimes in life we have to tie a knot in a rope and hold on. Better things come eventually.
What are you working on next?
I am working on a southern lifestyle blog. I will talk about cooking, decorating, and travel with southern flare and style. I share all the things I love. During my “Sweet Tea Chat” I will talk to different writers and bloggers and give them exposure as well. Writers can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for this opportunity. I am still writing novels. I feel compelled to write my stories differently. I am in a different place in my life, but I will always write.