There are a lot of gatekeepers in the publishing world. It’s very difficult to land an agent, and then once you do, it’s even more difficult to find an editor at a publishing house who will acquire your book. I think the creative process is much more rewarding and less stressful than the publishing part. ― H. R. Bellicosa
Q&A with H.R. Bellicosa — Author of The Punishings
When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What inspired that choice?
I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. As a young child, I would fill endless blank notebooks with stories and “novels” I would write. I entered every poetry contest I could find-you know the ones... you receive a letter that you “won” a spot in their 9,000-page anthology and you could purchase a copy. I was lucky that my parents always bought the book and never let on that it wasn’t exactly as it seemed to a naïve and hopeful child.
What is your favorite childhood book? What’s a book that helped shape you as a writer?
There are so many. As a young child, I absolutely loved Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter by Evelyn Scott. I found the Amelia Bedelia series endlessly entertaining. I consumed all the Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew books. Mary Higgins Clark was a favorite as I got older.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell myself that there is a LOT of rejection with this line of work, but it isn’t something to take personally. In fact, each rejection helps shape your work going forward—very often there are nuggets of advice and tips that you use in your writing as you strive to improve it before sending it out again.
What’s something that no one knows about your book?
The book was passed over by editors at major publishing houses for being “too visceral.” One editor said she was uncomfortable in that world because it felt too realistic, and she hoped it was something that never came to pass. Sadly, a year later, it did.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have three manuscripts, all finished, that need editorial work. I hope to have one published in around a year.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I love research. The internet is invaluable (though you have to check the sources thoroughly.) For The Punishings, I also read a lot of books about fascism, religious zealotry, and idolatry. I researched religious aspects and Biblical quotes. I also did a lot of research on the history of abortion and about native plants in Louisiana.
What’s in your writing space?
I love my office. I have filled it with plants so it’s green and lush even in the middle of winter. I have a bookcase filled with travel books. I have a desk but prefer to write in a chair in the corner. Next to that is a small table with my favorite item: an antique Underwood typewriter that I find to be very romantic and inspiring.
Stay tuned for 3 more author interviews this month!
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