Elin Hilderbrand is a New York Times bestselling author and the reigning queen of Nantucket beach reads. She has a twin brother who is not a bestselling novelist. She does her best writing on the beaches of Nantucket, as well as on the charming streets of Beacon Hill in Boston. She has three magical children who beg her not to sing along to the radio or dance in public.
Elin has published 18 novels and has 13 New York Times Bestsellers under her belt, and having such an accomplished author participate in an interview with me is a dream come true! I would like to add that I just finished The Match Maker a few months ago, my first Elin novel, and I absolutely fell in love with the characters and her writing. It was a beautiful story with a charming and inspiring voice. It had me in tears several times, which I love to hate. I loved how the characters were vastly flawed, yet they all remained undeniably lovable as well (except for one character haha). I always love a book that makes me think differently, and that makes me appreciate the wondrous gift of life. I cannot wait to read more of her incredible work…
When you are writing, do you have beta readers? If so, how do you find them? Any recommendations?
I don’t have any readers while I’m in the midst of writing a book. And I would advise against it for others. Your novel should be your voice without interruption, distraction or input…until it’s completely finished. When I have a first draft, I send it off to my editor at Little, Brown, Reagan Arthur. Hers is the only opinion that matters…and she is always right.
How did you go about finding a literary agent? Did you send many query letters out? How much time did it take to hear back/edit/receive an offer from an agent and then a publisher?
I met my agent during my very last workshop at the University of Iowa. He was also my professor’s agent. He gave me the sage advice: When you are finished with your novel, send it to me. I sent it to him in January 1999 (meaning, I put it in a box and mailed it). I heard back from him a week or two later saying he would like to take me on. But we didn’t find a home for the book until late May 1999 and even then, it was the last publisher we tried. Everyone else rejected it. Michael Carlisle, my agent, wisely saved every single rejection letter I got…it’s amusing only now that I’ve published 18 novels and had 13 NYT best sellers. Back then, it was depressing.
Any advice for writing with young children and trying to balance it all?
My first five novels I wrote while my children were napping. The key to being a novelist, and I can’t stress this enough, is discipline. That means making the time to write, not stopping in the nebulous middle because you aren’t sure what happens next; it means not getting distracted. It means staying off Twitter and Facebook and instead dedicating yourself to finishing your story. Once you finish, you can always go back and revise. But you have to finish.
Now that your kids are a bit older do they think it is “cool” that mom is an author?
Is there a character of your own or of someone else’s that you think you are very similar to?
There are pieces of me and my real life scattered throughout all of my novels. But no one character is Elin Hilderbrand. Fiction is crafted to make sense and real people clunk around…as real people we are boring and we have aspects that don’t serve the arc of a narrative. It’s imperative that every sentence of your novel is adding to the whole.
My novel is set in my hometown, Knoxville TN. I know you always have yours set in Nantucket, and Nicholas Sparks often has his set on the beach-y Carolina shores where he resides. Do you think this makes our writing stronger or more difficult as you add more books under your belt?
I just visited Knoxville properly for the first time last September and it was during a UT home game. What a scene! I definitely think sense of place is important, especially those details that make it different from the rest of the country. Knoxville has its own thing going on…if you’re setting your novel there, I would include all the details that make Knoxville unique.
*Elin Hilderbrand FAQ*
(For inquiring minds – the order for her Winter book series and The Rumor is…Winter Street, Winter Stroll, Winter Storms, and then Winter Solstice, which is also a sequel to The Rumor.)
For more information on Elin’s books and her upcoming book tour this summer check out ElinHilderbrand.com
Her newest book The Identicals is available June 13, 2017 (or you can pre-order it now)
Identical twin sisters who couldn’t look more alike…or live more differently.
Harper Frost is laid-back, easygoing. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She likes a beer and a shot and wouldn’t be caught dead wearing anything fashionable. She’s inherited her father’s rundown house on Martha’s Vineyard, but she can’t hold down a job, and her latest romantic disaster has the entire island talking.
Two beautiful islands only eleven miles apart.
Tabitha Frost is dignified, refined. She prefers a fine wine and has inherited the impeccable taste of her mother, the iconic fashion designer Eleanor Roxie-Frost. She’s also inherited her mother’s questionable parenting skills–Tabitha’s teenage daughter, Ainsley, is in full rebellion mode–and a flailing fashion boutique on Nantucket in desperate need of a cash infusion.
One unforgettable summer that will change their lives forever.
After more than a decade apart, Harper and Tabitha switch islands–and lives–to save what’s left of their splintered family. But the twins quickly discover that the secrets, lies, and gossip they thought they’d outrun can travel between islands just as easily as they can. Will Harper and Tabitha be able to bury the hatchet and end their sibling rivalry once and for all? Before the last beach picnic of the season, there will be enough old resentments, new loves, and cases of mistaken identity to make this the most talked-about summer that Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket have experienced in ages.
Interviewed by – Audra McElyea
Audra McElyea is a writer, personal trainer, blogger, contributor, wife and mom to two young boys. Her women’s fiction novel When Lilies Bloom is currently in the querying stage. She is a proud member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and she is the host of Women’s Fiction Wednesdays. #WFWed @WFWed
Her work has appeared in national online publications, including SheKnows magazine. When she isn’t endlessly editing her novel, you can find her in Tennessee cleaning up after two wild, little boys, or teaching Pilates. She is active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads