Sept 20 interview with Kenneth and Anne Hicks

Tell us something about yourselves.Melange pic 2

We met at a college mixer when Anne was a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College and Ken was a junior at Haverford College. The next year we persuaded a Haverford professor to supervise a project course in which we wrote a children’s story called A MOON AND A TUNE. That book was never published, but we have been writing together ever since.

Tell us something about your newest novel.

Our newest novel will be published by Melange Publishing on October 3, 2014 and is called PRAISE HER, PRAISE DIANA. It is the story of a woman who seeks revenge for a rape by killing and castrating seemingly random men and, in the process, turns New York City upside down. The book centers around Maggie Edwards — a well-known author — who is serializing a book about a man-seducer and killer named Diana. As Maggie’s book appears in magazines, someone begins to imitate the action in real time.

How did you get the idea for this book?

The story evolved from many sources. We wanted to write a book that dealt with issues of violence against women and the effect of such violence on the daily lives of all women. We also wanted to describe the way the media can take over an incident and make it into more, and sometimes less, than it should have been. Themes of love in its many forms are intertwined in the novel as well.

You write about New York. What is your tie to the city?

We have lived here since 1973 when Ken was entering his first year at Columbia Law School. Anne was working as an editor at a small publishing company. Those were the days when we could easily live on the salary of a young editor. We had a one-bedroom apartment on East 79th Street for $300 per month. It was great! Since then we have moved to a slightly larger apartment on East 92nd Street and raised three children.

The two of you collaborate on your novels. What is your method for working together?

We start off talking about an idea in general. We take a lot of long walks and discuss basic plot outlines and themes. Then we might try to write a preliminary outline. After that come more long walks, bench-sitting, and occasional drives and eventually, if it still seems like a good idea, one of us will write a draft. At that point, the other person will tear that preliminary work to shreds and put it together again, generally, but not always, in a recognizable form. We go back and forth many, many times until we have something that we both like.

Do you ever disagree about the writing, and if so, how do you settle the arguments?

In our youth, when we first met, we were impetuous, and Anne would tend to yell or pout, depending on mood. Ken just looked brow-beaten. Now, as mature adults we talk through our differences. One of the things we have both learned is that even if a criticism of a piece of writing is not correct about what exactly is wrong, the criticism always unerringly points to the fact that something is wrong. We keep working and reworking until we are both comfortable with the finished piece of writing. We also have learned to pay attention to that feeling in the pit of our stomachs when we know something we have worked on still is not right.

What’s the best thing about working with a collaborator? The worst?

The best thing about working with a collaborator is that we are never alone when a rejection comes in the mail or the e-mail. Also, if one of us is nearing the end of his or her rope, the other is there to give a good swift kick in the rear, or maybe a hug, to get back on track.

The worst is that people don’t understand how it’s done and seem to want to know who is responsible for what part. We tell them that it is a process and there is no reason to try to divide things up, even if we could. Still, some individuals remain suspicious of the arrangement.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you ever got? The worst?

The best piece of advice we ever got is to put your head down and keep writing. But that is probably the worst advice as well. The point is that writing is hard. No measure of success is guaranteed. If it is not something that you are really compelled to do by some force inside, you probably should not get started. It will eat you alive from the inside out.

Who are your favorite authors in your genre?

If the genre is mystery, Janet Evanovich and Mary Higgins Clark are at the top of the list. But PRAISE HER, PRAISE DIANA is a hybrid of mystery/suspense and mainstream. Therefore the list broadens considerably to include Jeffrey Archer, Ken Follett and, for the mainstream element, John Irving.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?

We would like to think that we have created a group of very compelling characters, some of whom will be remembered for a long time. Also, it would be great if this portrayal of sexually based violence has the effect of informing people about other sorts of violence that occur in the daily lives of people and raising consciousness to help stop these incidents from occurring. Love in its many aspects is on the opposite side from violence, and we hope to bring some new appreciation to that as well.

What are you working on now?

We are working on a family epic called Minister. It follows the lives of two brothers from a small town on that Eastern Shore of Maryland through about twenty years of their lives. We plan for it to be about nine hundred pages in all and we hope to publish it in three or four parts, depending on how it develops.

Where can readers find you on the web?

Our Facebook author page is here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kenneth-Hicks-and-Anne-Rothman-Hicks/622272714477979

Our web site is www.randh71productions.com.

Where can readers buy your book?Diana_Cover

The book will be published by Melange Publishing on October 3, 2014. It will be available on the Melange web site as well as on Amazon and most other outlets as well.

Blurb for Praise Her, Praise Diana

A woman going by the name of “Diana” has begun to kill and castrate men in New York City. Her modus operandi is sweet seduction and then a knife to the heart at his moment of climax. These tactics imitate the recent novel by Maggie Edwards, a famous author of women’s fiction who was raped a few years before but had never disclosed that traumatic experience. Diana becomes a heroine to women who have suffered violence or the threat of violence and these women start to fight back in imitation of Diana while the police try desperately to find out Diana’s identity. Jane Larson, a high-powered New York matrimonial attorney, represents Maggie and a women’s group called Women Protecting Women. Jane makes the mistake of falling in love with her client and soon finds herself at the center of the action.

Bio

Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks have been married for a little over forty years and have produced about twenty books and exactly three children so far. At press-time, they still love their children more.

Their most recent novels have been set in New York City, where they have lived for most of their married lives. Anne is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College where, in nineteen sixty-nine, as the fabled Sixties were drawing to a close, she met Ken, who was a student at Haverford College. They don’t like to admit that they met at a college mixer, but there it is!

Together their books include Theft of the Shroud, a novel; Starfinder, a non-fiction book about the stars for children; a series of books on individual names for children (for example Michael’s Book, Elizabeth’s Book, John’s Book, Jennifer’s Book, David’s Book, Amy’s Book); and, most recently, Kate and the Kid and Mind Me, Milady, two novels, and a middle reader/tween novel, Things Are Not What They Seem.

Ken and Anne have a website with the address set out below. There they have links to some of their books and display images that they hope will be used in future efforts. In case you were wondering abut the website address, “R” is for Rothman, “H” is for Hicks, and 71 is the year of their marriage. No secret codes or numerology anywhere. Sorry.

Contact Ken and Anne at:

www.randh71productions.com

or on their Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kenneth-Hicks-and-Anne-Rothman-Hicks/622272714477979.

Or, follow them on Ken’s Twitter Account @kenhicksnyc

EXCERPT

Slow down,” I say.

He obeys.

I am his leader now. It is simply a matter of time.

I glide forward and am strangely gratified that he gasps as he enters me while I feel nothing. I may as well be a plastic mannequin. A nerveless receptacle.

Don’t pity me!

I move my hips with exquisite skill and he gasps again. Soon his breathing reaches a rhythm matching the movement of my body on top of his. It is a rhythm that carries him away to a new place. His eyelids flutter closed as he concentrates on the pleasure that I am causing to well up inside, ready to explode. And when his moment arrives and my anger can no longer be contained, I remove the knife that was hidden inside my leather boot and the blade strikes past his naked ribs to his heart, buried to the hilt in his muscle, bone and blood.

Sorry,” I say. “Did that hurt?”

His eyes open, displaying disbelief. And pain, of course.

Remember me now?”

But no sound comes from his gaping mouth. Death follows quickly, instantaneously, it seems, although I hope with all my heart that the instant of agony is long enough for him to understand that he has been tricked, and to experience the same gaping loneliness and fear that I once did.

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