Friday, April 9, 2021

Interview with Hope Bolinger (Sarah Sawyer)

I'm thrilled to welcome Hope Bolinger to Lands Uncharted to share about her upcoming release, Dear Henchman, a superhero chat-fiction romance co-authored with Alyssa Roat. She graciously answered some questions on her writing life, her role as an agent, and her stories. Read on to find out a bit more about Hope and her soon-to-release novel!

Welcome to Lands Uncharted, Hope! Tell us a little bit about your literary background and interests. What drew you to writing?
Sure! Oh boy, ok, let me try to boil this down. I am a literary agent, author, and a content editor at I got into writing in high school when I saw a friend writing books and I decided to give it a go myself. I got bit by the bug, did 10+ internships in the industry, got 1000+ bylines, and the rest is, as you say, history. It was a calling if I ever heard one, and I hit the ground running with it!

I love how you stumbled upon your passion and then pursued it with such focus and dedication! You're a literary agent as well as an author. How has your experience with the business side of the industry shaped you as a writer?

It's really helped me to understand the inner workings of the industry. Why certain books sell and others don't, and what it really takes to get your foot in the door. I've been grateful to work both sides of the desk. That way I can have empathy for my authors, but also push them to get to where they need to go.

What piece of advice helped you most on your writing journey?

There are so many things I could say here, but honestly, trust the process. If someone says no, someone else may say yes. So keep going, and keep investing in your writing. 

Great advice! Dedication to craft and perseverance in the process go a long way. Excellent books have a positive influence as well. I'd love to hear what books have had the greatest impact on your life.

Ahhh so hard. I love books way too much. I'll cheat and say some recent reads that I've enjoyed and that have helped me to see new ways people can write: The Astonishing Color of After, See You in the Cosmos, Finding Perfect, and The Thing about Jellyfish. Seriously, go check them out.

I look forward to exploring your recommendations. On another note, most writers stumble across unusual or interesting facts in the process of researching their novels. Have you learned anything particularly quirky or intriguing in the process of writing your stories?

Oh gosh, well I've been researching the Greek Dark Ages for a project coming out in 2023, so I guess we'll go for a fun fact in regard to that. Back in the Dark Ages of Greece, people would hold games at your funeral. People would literally compete in chariot races and ax throwing competitions. They had lots of fun prizes like swords and mules and all that good stuff. I don't know about you, but I think we need to bring it back.   

The Greek Dark Ages...sounds intriguing! You have explored a rich variety of settings and genres in your writing. What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

Usually two things: laughter and a challenge. I often will write about some sort of social issue in my books. But I also love to make readers laugh. I think it's important to have comedy and tragedy in every work.

That's great! I appreciate books that make me laugh and think. You’ve written Dear Hero and Dear Henchman with a co-author, Alyssa Roat. How do the two of you handle the process of writing together?

We worked really well together! Alyssa is a pantser and I'm a plotter, so our differing styles harmonized well. We created a skeletonic outline and chose characters (since it's chat based) then we hopped on a Google doc and got to work. It was fun because you didn't really know what their character would say. We had a goal we strove to reach, but we had to get there together.  

How fun! What's your favorite thing about your upcoming release, Dear Henchman?

So I wrote a really weird villain, and I hope you all fall in love with him. He feeds his enemies french toast and collects taxidermy bunnies. But overall, my favorite thing has to be how much the book continues to crack me up. We've edited this thing a bajillion times, and I still laugh through every pass-through. 

Weird and quirky villains are great, and I certainly enjoy a touch of humor in my novels, so I look forward to checking out Dear Henchman upon its release. You’ve described it as a superhero chat-fiction romance. In honor of the romance aspect, could you share your favorite literary couple?

Oooh this is hard. So many adorable couples. I'm going to have to go with Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. You cannot help but root for them to get together for the whole book.

That's a great choice--they're one of my favorite couples as well, and I loved watching their family grow as the series continued. Speaking of series, Dear Henchman is book #2 of your superhero chat novels. Will there be a sequel or does this conclude the series?

This concludes the series, but Alyssa and I do have ideas for spinoffs: Dear Gamer, Dear Assassin, Dear Arthur (Arhurian chat fiction), etc. We'll see if it happens! Unfortunately (and fortunately), Alyssa and I have 9 books releasing in the next 3 years, so things are a little crazy over here. But maybe sometime down the road :)

It sounds like both of you will be busy in the best of ways. Thanks for stopping by Lands Uncharted and sharing about your books and your writing process. 

You can learn more about Hope at her website or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Look for Dear Henchman to release in early May, and in the meantime, check out book #1, Dear Hero!

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