Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Author Interview with Sharon Woods Hopkins

Hi Bryan, I'm so happy to be joining you in The Writers Cabin Blog. Thanks for the invite!

1. Sharon tell me about yourself.
I am a branch manager for a mortgage office of a Missouri bank. I also own the original Cami, the 1979 Camaro featured in my books.
I am a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Southeast Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the Missouri Writers’ Guild.
My first Rhetta McCarter mystery, KILLERWATT was nominated for a 2011 Lovey award for Best First Novel and was a finalist in the 2012 Indie Excellence Awards. My second book in the series, KILLERFIND, was released in July, 2012, and won First Place in the Missouri Writers Guild “Show me Best Book Awards” for 2013, and was also a finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Awards.
My short story, Rear View Mirror won third place at the 2013 Missouri Writers Guild Awards.
Besides writing, my hobbies include painting, fishing, photography, flower gardening, and restoring muscle cars with my son, Jeff.

I also spent 30 years as an Appaloosa Horse Club judge, where she was privileged to judge all over the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe.
I live on our family compound near Marble Hill, Missouri with my husband, Bill Hopkins (also an author) next door to my son, Jeff, his wife, Wendy and my grandson, Dylan, plus two cats and one dog.
2. When did you know you wanted to become an author?

I wrote a lot of non-fiction in the past, but it wasn't until about five years ago that I thought I'd try my hand at a mystery novel. I had a character and plot dancing in my mind, and thought I'd give it a whirl.
3.  Is there a central theme to your books? 

An ordinary forty something woman in an extraordinary situation can be a true hero. She can also crave cigarettes, dislike the cops, and drive a seventies era muscle car.

4. What books have inspired you the most in your life?

I read all of the Nancy Drew mysteries and would imagine myself as Nancy, solving mysteries. Another book I absolutely adore is Anne of Green Gables, a book I read more than once, something I seldom do.

5. What’s a typical day in your writing routine like?

I have a haphazard writing schedule, which means I have no schedule at all. The only time I can spend an entire day writing is on the weekends, and even then I get distracted. Like today, I felt compelled to wash my '79 Camaro. Yep, it took up writing time, but I had to do it. I couldn't leave bug juice on her from an outing last night. I usually fix a giant cup of coffee, take it downstairs to my office and go. I can sit for several hours at a time writing full steam. I generally start my writing by re-reading the last ten pages I wrote to put myself back where I was, then tweaking it a bit before going forward.

6. What is it that you do to relax?

I love to fish, work in my flower garden, or drive my Camaro.

7. Do you use an outline or do you write organically?

I don't really outline. I have the whole story in my head before I start. Sometimes a character will come along or something will happen to Rhetta my protagonist, or Woody, her assistant, that moves the story forward, so I add it in. But I want to stress here that I know what's going to happen before I start writing. I can see the plot like a movie in my head.

8. Have you ever had writer’s block and what did you do to push past it?

I don't think I've had writer's block in writing my mysteries. I have, however, experienced massive writer's block at writer meetings and conferences, when taking a class or a session. When given an exercise in writing, I can never do it because the subjects seldom interest me, and I can never think of anything. My husband, Bill Hopkins (Courting Murder) can always write out something so quickly in those circumstances, and it's usually brilliant.

9. Is there a certain time of day when you are most creative?

Usually right after lunch. Although I get up early, I'm not a true morning person.

10. How many drafts do you usually write of a manuscript and what is your editing process lik

I re-write the first draft with corrections and edits as I go. However, I do a LOT of editing and correcting so I don't know how to count that as a draft. When I'm finished, and type The End, there's only one draft. I don't actually re-write the entire manuscript, but sometimes I rework a scene or flesh something out, or take something out. My husband, Bill is my first and best editor, so his reading my manuscript helps me make changes and corrections as I go. Major revisions are made when I get the marked up manuscript back from my editor, Pat Smith.

11. What do you think of the recent changes in the publishing world?

I think it's terrific that an author can now be in charge of his or her own work, and offer it directly to the reader. That said, however, I can't stress how important it is to have the manuscript professionally edited, then proof read several times before offering it for sale. A good cover is important, as is proper formatting . There may be a lot of inferior work out there, but now the reader is the one who decides what they will buy and read. The publishing gatekeepers are losing power. There will always be publishers and agents, but now, thanks to Amazon and Smashwords and self publishing platforms, they are no longer in total control. An author can choose many different routes to get a story out, and all of it is good for the readers.

12. Out of all the books you’ve written do you have a favorite, and if so why?

I am on my third book, titled Killertrust, and it's my favorite. I think it's my favorite because it's still new and fresh in my brain.

13. What are you working on now?

I'm finishing up Killertrust, which will be out this August.

14. Where  can we buy your books?

My books are available as print and ebooks from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. My first book, Killerwatt, is also available as an audio book from and iTunes. Or a reader can buy directly from my website,
My short story, Rear View Mirror is free on my website.

Check out my Rhetta McCarter Mystery series at or Amazon.
KILLERWATT is now available as an audio book from Audible or iTunes
KILLERWATT Kindle version is just $.99.


  1. Good interview, Sharon, and I'm glad your first book is now available in audio.

    I remember reading your short story and chuckling at the end - a nice gem.

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