Good evening and welcome to this edition of Authors’ Mastermind. My name is Faith Mortimer and I am delighted to welcome tonight’s contender. Could you please state your name and occupation?
Libby Fischer Hellmann, Author
Thank you. Now, can you tell us your chosen subject?
Thank you. And now would you please answer the following questions on your chosen subject. You have a maximum number of 250 words on each question. If you do not know the answer, say pass and we’ll move on to another question. The total number of passes will be counted and deducted against your final score. Are you ready? Good then I’ll begin.
1. Ms. Hellmann how do you describe yourself; as a writer and as a person?
Energetic, curious, relentless
2. Do you do anything that would tell us you lead an interesting or indeed a crazy life?
George Harrison said 5 words to me, and Jack Nicholson propositioned me (when he was single… but he did that to almost every woman he met, I’m told) (Ed; no not me!)
3. Briefly, describe your journey into writing your first book and what or who inspired you.
Believe it or not, OJ Simpson was my inspiration. I was incensed at the way the prosecution botched the case, but at the same time I was enthralled by the world of forensics… and that case was the motherlode: the bloody glove, the shoeprints, the DNA, the blood spatter, the position of the knife… it introduced me to a new world. Four months later I started writing my first mystery. I usually say the devil made me do it.
4. Are you working on anything right now?
A historical thriller about Cuba.
5a. Do you ever struggle with parts of the book you’re working/writing on?
Always. I struggle with the beginning, the middle, and the end.
5b. What is your next book about, and where do you get your ideas from? (-1 mark)
See above. And I get my ideas from the Idea Store. Don’t you?
6. How would you define your writing working day? Give us some indication of where you work, and the length of time you spend on your project.
I used to be much more disciplined. But now, because I’m doing most of my marketing online, I’m a slave to the internet. Which has significantly cut down on my productivity. I try to write mid-morning to mid-afternoon. Sometimes I actually do.
7. Tell us about characterisation. How do you develop your characters? Do you feel they are important in the overall picture? Do you ever base them on real people?
I’ve only based one character on a real person – my best friend Susan, who died of breast cancer several years ago. It was strange. It was almost as if I knew she would die… she was the only person I ever transferred from reality to fiction. Now I know why.
8. What about the editing and redrafting process? When do you do this?
I do it all the time. I’m never satisfied. I would still be polishing my first novel if there hadn’t been a deadline. (I’ve published 8 now.)
9. How have you overcome any trials and tribulations of rejection?
Bitching about it to friends and family helps a lot.
10. If you were not writing, what would be your choice of employment?
I’d probably still be writing speeches, video scripts, and proposals. And training executives to be better speakers.
Thank you. Your score on your chosen subject is 9. (You answered both parts of Q 5 when only 1 was required, so you lost 1 mark for not reading the question properly – but an admirable score.)
Now for the General Knowledge section.
1. Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
In the Garden of Beasts.
2. Name your five favourite authors.
James Cain, Kent Krueger, Val McDermid, Karin Slaughter, Robert Crais
3. Who, out of your five favourite people would you like to invite to dinner at your house. You will be doing the catering. What is your ideal menu, you would provide? (You must be able to cook this!)
Robert Crais and Kent Krueger… they wouldn’t mind if I ordered in. I am not a cook.(-1 mark)
4. Do any authors inspire you? If so, which ones?
The ones I listed above.
5. What things in your life would you love to do that you haven’t yet achieved. Your answer should NOT be ‘become a rich and famous author’. If you fall back on this answer, then 3 marks will be deducted from your overall score.
I’d like to see a film made from one of my books.
6. Describe your ideal day; working and leisure (only clean answers please).
I’d spend it at a private beach that has internet access.
7. What has been the most memorable thing that has happened to you in a, your writing career and b, in your private life (again, only cleans answers will be accepted).
Writing: When I read the first chapter of my first Ellie Foreman book to my writing group and someone said, “That was terrific. You found your voice!”
Private life: See below.
8. Are you a disciplined person in everyday life? How would/does this reflect in your writing?
Yes… and it is not reflected in my writing.
9. Do you keep a dart-board handy with rejection letters from Publishing House editors’ photographs pinned to it? If so, what is your highest score?
Don’t do that, but it’s a great idea.
10. What are your five desert island books?
The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Long Goodbye, A Place of Execution, To Kill a Mockingbird, A thesaurus
Tie-breaker question. Tell us the most outrageous/embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you. What were the consequences? A bonus of 5 extra points will be awarded to the best answer from contenders to the Authors Mastermind Crown.
Outrageous: Hitchhiked across the US with my boyfriend at the time. Got to the Nevada desert, with no water, carrying a backpack of 25 pounds, and finally wondered what a nice Jewish girl like me was doing there. When someone finally picked us up (after 6 hours) he asked where we were headed. My boyfriend said, “To Berkeley.” I said, “to the Las Vegas airport, please.” And I flew home to Washington DC.
Thank you. Your time is now up. You managed to complete all questions with no passes.
Your overall score is 18. This is an excellent score and we shall see how you do against the other contenders.
Well done and thank you for being my guest today.
Libby's books can be found on: