Re:Fiction - The Fiction Writers' Magazine

Interview with Elizabeth Hoyt

About Elizabeth Hoyt

Elizabeth Hoyt is a New York Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical romance, including reader favorite, The Raven Prince. She also writes deliciously fun contemporary romance under the name Julia Harper. Born in New Orleans, but raised in the frigid winters of Saint Paul, Minnesota, Elizabeth was fortunate to travel extensively when she was growing up and lived in St. Andrews, Scotland; Oxford England; and Kawasaki, Japan. She went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she not only earned a degree in anthropology but also met Mr. Hoyt. Some years later, after a short pause to birth and raise two children, Elizabeth realized that she really wasn’t qualified to do anything but Make up Stories and started writing.

Elizabeth now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with three untrained canines, a garden in constant need of weeding, and, of course, Mr. Hoyt.

The Interview

Re:Fiction: Tell us a little about your earliest days of writing. What age were you? What kind of fiction did you write? How was it received?

Elizabeth: I was a late-blooming writer. I didn’t start writing until thirty-five. Prior to that I was a stay-at-home-mom with no idea what I wanted to do for a career. When my youngest daughter entered kindergarten, I realized that this was an opportunity: since I didn’t have a career to return to, I could take a couple of years and “try” writing. Obviously it turned into much more than that.

 Fortunately my husband was and is very supportive of my writing and never complained for the five years that I made no money at all. I started by writing The Raven Prince, which became my first published book. It’s a historical romance. At the time I was trying to sell, historical romance was in a slump. It’s still in a slump. Oddly, I’ve managed to have a career writing it nonetheless.

Re:Fiction: When did you realize you’re serious about pursuing a writing career?

Elizabeth: By the time I finished my first manuscript I knew that this was what I wanted to do for a living. I’m just fortunate that what I like to write is also what some people like to read.

Re:Fiction: What was the first piece you ever got published? How hard was it to get your first acceptance?

Elizabeth: The Raven Prince was part of a three-book contract with Grand Central Publishing (then Warner Books) in 2005. They were the last “major” New York publishing house to read the manuscript. I think we (I got an agent first) were in submission for a year and a half before I sold.

Re:Fiction: How do you approach a new writing project? What kind of preparations do you make?

Elizabeth: Usually I’m thinking about a new project years in advance of actually writing it. I have to spend a lot of time mulling over my characters and themes in a very abstract way. During this time the project can change quite a bit. Then I start by filling out characters and a synopsis. From there I try to make an outline, but I often run out of time if I’m on deadline and have to start writing without a full outline. I’m a visual person so I like to make boards on Pinterest to get ideas of themes and colors for the book. (

Re:Fiction: What are your writing habits? Do you have daily or weekly goals? Do you have regular hours? A regular workspace?

Elizabeth: I have a dedicated home office where I do most of my writing. I’m terrible about time management and seem to be getting worse the more books I write. I try to write in the morning, but when I’m on deadline I often write late at night. I do have daily goals—I rarely make them.

Re:Fiction: How do you slog through the challenge of writing a full-length novel? What keeps you going? How do you keep the passion alive?

Elizabeth: I find the terror of missing a deadline, coupled with the fact that I need to write to make money, are oddly compelling incentives. Other than that, I just write the book and keep going until I get to the end. Reader interaction helps a lot when you’re feeling that everything you touch is crap. (wink)

Re:Fiction: Do you ever run into writer’s block? If so, what do you do to overcome it? How well does it work?

Elizabeth: I’ve had writer’s block linked to depression. I didn’t really overcome it until I dealt with the depression.

Re:Fiction: What do you consider as success in a writer’s life? How do you recommend getting there?

Elizabeth: I think each writer has to find their own definition of success. Mine was being able to make a living at it, which I did with my third book contract. I suggest not making your goals so high that they’re impossible to achieve—and ignoring other people’s expectations for you. That works for life goals, too. (wink)

Re:Fiction: What is the best tip you can give to new and intermediate writers in general?

Elizabeth: Have a core of steel. You need to be able to believe in yourself and your writing. Other people will try to sway you, tell you that you “should” do this or that. Figure out what you want and stick to it.

Re:Fiction: What is the best tip you can give to new and intermediate writers in your genre?

Elizabeth: Keep writing what you love. If historical romance is your thing, then stick to it. It’s not sexy at the moment, but lots and lots of people read it. Don’t listen to your friends. (wink)


Elizabeth Hoyt, thanks so much for sharing your experience and wisdom with us writers!

Re:Fiction is an online magazine devoted to helping fiction writers thrive.

We believe the great writers of tomorrow are out there even now, honing their skills and polishing their yet untold stories. We want to shine a beacon of encouragement, information, and inspiration for you. We want to celebrate the authentic voice you bring to the world. And we want you to enjoy your way along the path of the writer.

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