IGM: If you had to give a quick, one-sentence description of your novel or series to a Hollywood mogul, what would you say?
HC: Here's my pitch for Chocolate City Justice – Navigating the flood of Hurricane Katrina with an NOPD detective and two cats, prosecutor Ryan Murphy finds herself fleeing gang members, rogue police officers, and the wrath of the storm, all the while gathering clues to solve the mystery of who is paying the Ninth Ward Warriors to terrorize the city.
IGM: What inspired you to write your series (personal experience, books you love, real people and events, etc.)?
HC: My series was inspired by my personal experience as a New Orleans prosecutor.
IGM: Yikes! That sounds scary! Next question: What gives you the most joy as a writer?
HC: When readers e-mail me and ask when the next novel is coming out because they can’t wait to find out what happens to my protag, Ryan. It doesn’t get any better than when my characters are as real to my readers as they are to me.
IGM: What is the hardest thing about writing?
HC: Finding time to write is the most difficult part of writing. I have a “job-job” that I do from home, two teenage daughters, a husband, three dogs, and two deaf cats, all of which compete for my attention. I also write screenplays and t.v. pilots and I just started producing my own films, so it’s hard to juggle everything that needs to get done.
IGM: I think one of your deaf cats just jumped on my lap. How do you come up with the titles for your books?
HC: My husband and my kids name all my work. I’m terrible with titles and actually don’t enjoy the naming process. Except for my characters. I love naming characters.
IGM: Tell a little about your process. Do you know how it should end before you start?
HC: I always know how the story is going to end, but then I usually try to add a twist I hadn’t planned. I do a scene by scene outline ahead of time, although the scenes get rewritten and moved around constantly. If I didn’t outline, I wouldn’t know how to stop adding scenes into the novel.
IGM: Pretend you are fielding a baseball team with your favorite writers. List them by position.
HC: We are a football city (if you didn’t guess my favorite football team is the New Orleans Saints you don’t know anything at all about me or the city of New Orleans.)
IGM: I thought the New Orleans Saints was a glee club. OK, go on:
HC: I suggest you remain in disguise.
HC: I can’t picture any of my favorite writers playing football, so I’m going to use my next favorite sport, women’s gymnastics. Ernest Hemingway would do the vault, because he seems like he would run fast because he was a sportsman. John Kennedy Toole would do the floor, but he would probably fall a lot and not be very good. Julie Plec (who writes and produces Vampire Diaries and the Originals) would do the balance beam because she looks kind of short and short women have a lower center of gravity and do better on beam. She also does a fantastic job of balancing the two shows she writes. John Sandford would do the bars, because if he is like his character Lucas Davenport, he is fearless and aggressive, two traits necessary to excel at the bars.
IGM: I can't stop seeing Hemingway in women's gymnastic tights doing the splits...OK, last question: Pretend your book is being made into a movie. What actors would play the lead characters? (Note: if your book is being optioned for a movie, you may wish to send several thousand dollars to the International Guy of Mystery Foundation as a tax write-off).
HC: Casting my protag Ryan is difficult because she is short, but Anna Kendrick is about the right height and could do a lot with the role. If I wasn’t casting by height, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Emily Blunt, or Emma Watson.
Ian Somerhalder, Damon from The Vampire Diaries, would definitely get the role of Shep, my lead male. I didn’t have anyone in mind when I wrote the character, but the first time I saw Ian Somerhalder on TVD, I immediately thought that is Shep, exactly as I described him.
Jason Momoa would get the role of the second lead male and third member of the little love triangle, undercover detective Monte Carlson.
I would pick some of the Wahlberg boys to play Ryan’s brothers, actor Ryan Reynolds for the villain in Gumbo Justice and Jared Leto for the villain in Jambalaya Justice.