I don’t know many books more thrilling to read than suspense novels. They call them “thrillers” for a reason” after all. A two time winner of Best English Fiction at the Equus Film Festival, Connie knows how to give equestrians just what they want. Whether you love horses or not read on to learn more about this author and her thoughts on sequels, publishing, and more!
About Connie Johnson Hambley
“Connie Johnson Hambley grew up on a small dairy farm just north of New York City. In 1965, an arsonist burned her family’s barn to the ground. From that experience grew the story that became The Charity. A retrospective on the fire can be found here.
Hambley writes about strong women from their perspective in situations that demand the most from them. No special powers, no gadgets, no super human abilities. Just a woman caught up or embroiled in something that she has to get out of, hopefully alive.
Every bit of personal experience is used to create a story that is as believable as it is suspenseful. Using her law and investment background in ways unique, creative, but not altogether logical, Hambley has enjoyed robust professional pursuits that include writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Nature Biotechnology and MassHighTech. Experience at a major bank in Boston introduced her to clever schemes dreamed up to launder money.
Hambley writes page-turners. The Charity is first in The Jessica Trilogy, followed by its sequel, The Troubles. The final book in the trilogy, The Wake, was published September 2017.”
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I’ve been writing full time for about seven years, but all of my careers involved some kind of writing. Whether my job involved marketing, selling, consulting, or teaching, I’ve always been focused on the written product.
Q: What genre(s) do you write?
A: Fiction. Suspense novels and thrillers. I blog and continue to write articles on subjects that interest me. I love the permanence of communicating with the written word. In my careers, I was married to the facts. Don’t get me wrong, I loved writing journalistic or promotional pieces, but once I started taking in information and molding it into my unique story, I became addicted to writing fiction.
I didn’t start out thinking I was going to write a suspense trilogy, but each book had one little fuse that when lit exploded into another story. The Jessica Trilogy unfolds the story of a woman who uncovers the money behind a Boston-based cell of the Irish Republican Army. Each book encapsulates one distinct stage of her discovery. The Charity shows what happened, The Troubles explores why it happened, and The Wake answers how the characters move forward in a word turned upside down.
Also, I think readers want their books seasoned with the spice of different genres. So, my suspense novels have a pinch of romance and a dash of family saga.
Q: Where did you go to University?
A: I went to a small liberal arts college near New York City then on to law school. My writing boot camp happened there. You learn quickly not to screw around with words when lawyers are circling.
On Books and Writing
Q: Do you receive inspiration for your characters from your personal life?
A: Oh, sure! What writer doesn’t take a smidgeon of a neighbor or a pinch of a family member? I read once that a good character is taking traits from six real life people. I love mashing up characters and seeing who people think they recognize, too!
Q: How do you manage work, writing, and social life?
A: Wait. I get a social life? My writing life is my social life. Those voices in my head can be vastly more entertaining than many people I know. That said, I do make an effort to join writers groups with flesh and blood people. I belong to one that focuses on the craft of writing and another that focuses on the business of being an author. The biggest organization I belong to is Sisters in Crime, a national organization of mystery and thriller writers. It was begun to promote women authors, but its mission and membership expanded to include men. I’m the Vice President of the New England chapter and love the organization because of the support it offers through online workshops, conferences, and just plain camaraderie. Writing is a solitary business. Find your tribe.
Q: Is it easier to write a sequel?
A: Oh, God. No. It’s H-A-R-D to write a sequel. Your world and characters exist with their thorny boundaries and peculiarities. Writing a stand alone novel is wonderful! You can veer off in any direction the characters take you, but sequels are different. I think writing a sequel is like playing a game of bumper pool. You know you want to sink that eight ball into the corner pocket, but there is no straight line to get there. The characters and past plot line have created hard stops and obstacles you must navigate around. In writing THE WAKE, my third book in THE JESSICA TRILOGY, I had to go back to the first book, THE CHARITY, to make sure I left no story thread dangling. I also discovered I had boxed myself into a story line I needed to conclude in a realistic and emotionally satisfying way. A recent review in Horse Nation told me I did my job well, but, GEEZ! It was hard.
Q: How did you research your novel?
A: First, I steeped myself in the world of horses. Tough duty, right? Horse folks can be notoriously picky when it comes to proper technique, so I made sure to get my details right. Also, Irish history and lore behind the Irish Republican Army in Boston informed my story line and my characters. I read an autobiography of Gerry Adams and tried to get inside the mind of a man trying to find peace with a world power. I read psychology books on Post Traumatic Stress and talked with therapists treating physically and emotionally challenged patients. Google Maps and Google Earth helped me with locations I’d never been to, like Northern Ireland, and I confess to using Wikipedia, too!
Q: What do you think makes your book different from others?
A: My stories include Irish history, hot romance, thrilling chase scenes, family secrets, and heart aching truths of being human. My books are mainstream thrillers with an equestrian element, so they are perfect for readers of suspense novels who are looking for something different. They are also perfect for readers of horse books who want to try something new. Readers love my books because they become immersed in a different world.
I guess I’m doing something right. I’m a two-time winner of Best English Fiction at the EQUUS International Film Festival held in New York City.
Q:Self-publish or traditional publishing? What are the pros and cons that you have found? Would you recommend?
A: I am independently and traditionally published and there are pluses and minuses to both worlds. I love the control I have being independently published, but I love the team aspect of bringing a book to life when working with a publisher. When you have a good relationship with your publisher, the collaborative environment nurtures your work and makes it as good as it can be. Who wouldn’t love that? I’ve been fortunate, but some of my author pals have had real horror stories about not being on the same page as their publisher (sorry about the pun). You have to have a certain set of skills to be successful as an indie. I’m lucky. I know how to find a market and sell into it. I’m also a good balance of being an introverted writer, but an extroverted marketer.
Marketing and Promotion
Q: Book signings- yes or no?
A: Absolutely! I love doing panels at bookstores and solo signings. Chatting with readers about what they are reading and why helps me understand what it will take to sell more books! It’s easier to create a successful event if you have more than just you as the draw. I get a couple of interesting author pals together and get a topic I know a book store or library will be interested in. Then we promote the panel. One recent one was “How Women Get Away With Murder” with women murder mystery authors. The audience loved it!
Q:Where can readers find you?
A: I do video chat book groups! Time zones don’t faze me and I think it’s cool to talk to folks in Hawaii, Alaska and the U.K.! I use Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facebook!
*This post contains affiliate links. If you click the link and purchase an item, at no cost to you I may receive a small fee to help run this website.
Short Story Anthologies: