Interview with 2010 First Place Winner Vicki Bendau

RACHELLE:  “Stunning,” “gritty,” and “shivery” are just a few of the adjectives readers used to describe the imagery in Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk. Did creating this scene in such vivid detail come easy for you or did you have to repeatedly revise the scene? 

VICKI: This scene came to fruition after I completed the book. My first beginning started in the wrong place, so when rewrote it I punched it up with something immediate and gripping. It came together very quickly because by that time I knew my story and characters and how I wanted to portray that first scene.  
RACHELLE: Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk opens with slaves cleaning the “head-baskets.” This captured the attention of nearly every reader. You give us a glimpse into the purpose of these “head-baskets” but can you tell us more about what they are and what they are used for?
VICKI:  The head baskets were a construct of my own. They came about as a result of my imagination playing what-if games. As such, they are not an authentic period detail; rather, they were the answer to my question, “What image I can give the reader to cement in their minds the rage and brutality of this fearsome conqueror?”
RACHELLE: You state that Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk takes place in “East of Samarkand, summer pastures of Chinghis Khan, 1226 A.D.” How did you get interested in Chinghis Khan and this time period?
VICKI: I fell in love the the thirteenth century doing research in graduate school. My reading introduced me to the Silk Roads, with the Mongolian Empire at one end of the ancient caravan routes that brought treasures, people and ideas through Asia, Persia, the Middle East and all the way to the Mediterranean. The whole thing struck me as a perfect backdrop for a romance. It sparked the question, “What if two people from these different worlds fell in love?” Chinghis Khan is such an interesting historical figure. He makes a great antagonist, from a distance, of course! I find him even somewhat admirable since he allowed women so much freedom. I really like that. It gives me a chance to create heroines as dangerous as they are beautiful.
RACHELLE: How much time did you spend researching Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk versus writing it?
VICKI: I’ve spent three years researching the time period, using a variety of primary and secondary sources. I’ve been building my library around it and continue to uncover wonderful and amazing facts. It took me about eight months to write the complete manuscript.
RACHELLE: Historical fiction has always struck me as really hard to write, especially knowing which historical facts to include and which to leave out. But you do such an amazing job of weaving in just the right amount of historical detail to put readers into the scene. How do you decide which details to use and how much to include?
VICKI: Thank you, Rachelle. I make mistakes and then I correct them in the rewriting. I’m learning more and more all the time. The history is the jumping off point for the characters and the story and most important, the romance. I study other authors to see how they weave their worlds into their writing without overpowering the story, and listen to what people who read my work say.
RACHELLE: Is Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk your first book?
VICKI: It is my second book. It remains to be seen if book one will ever see the light of day!
RACHELLE: What other projects are you working on? Are they all historical romances? If so, what time period do they take place in?
VICKI:  Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk is the first book in a Silk Roads-inspired historical trilogy. It chronicles a family whose lives and passions are shaped by the colliding forces of East and West. It takes place in the thirteenth century worlds of the Mongolian Empire, Central Asia and the Mediterranean. All are linked by the ancient caravan routes that later became known as the Silk Roads. In addition to Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk, there is a completed first draft of book two, and an outline for book three. After I finish the trilogy, I’d love to continue in this time and place. The possibilities for stories are endless!
RACHELLE: Are you a published author? If so, who do you write for? If not, what does your dream of being a published author look like?
VICKI: Not published. Not yet. But I am getting closer. The number of agents and editors willing to take a look at this project is surprising and gratifying. I will keep submitting and continue developing my craft until the work sells. My biggest dream as a writer is to build a readership who shares my passion for romance and the Middle Ages and is willing to explore the exotic locales of Asia.
RACHELLE: I think readers would like to know more about Vicki. Who is Vicki Bendau and why does she write?
VICKI: Vicki Bendau is the luckiest woman on earth. I am a mid-life career housewife with a husband who wants me to follow my heart. How can I say no to an opportunity like that?
RACHELLE: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
VICKI: Thanks to all the folks who took the time to visit the CHASE THE DREAM contest website, read the entries, respond and vote. And thanks to Rachelle and Leigh for taking the time to help emerging authors on their quest for publication.

9 responses

20 03 2010
And The Winners Are… « Chase the Dream Writers Contest

[…] First Place – Week 6 Finalist – Hooves of Thunder, Hearts of Silk by Vicki Bendau (and don’t miss Vicki’s interview here) […]

20 03 2010
Donna Cummings

Congratulations, Vicki! I’m so excited for you. I know it won’t be long before this book is in the stores. 🙂 Congrats again!

20 03 2010
Vicki Bendau

Thank you, Donna. I’m hoping for that exact outcome.

20 03 2010
Vicki Bendau

Many, many thanks to Rachelle Chase and Leigh Michaels. I can only imagine the amount of time they spent coordinating this contest. Everything about it was top of the line. I was so flattered to be grouped with such high quality finalists, and to win is extremely gratifying. I am sure my fellow writers will agree that any recognition, large or small, really inspires you to keep pushing on. And the feedback from readers is priceless. A special thanks goes to all the agents who read and commented on the entries.

21 03 2010
Victoria Dixon

Congrats again, Vicki! It’s a privilege knowing you. ;D

21 03 2010
Susan Blumberg-Kason

Gongxi, gongxi, Vicki!! I can’t wait to read your book!!!

21 03 2010
Jeannie Lin

Congrats Vicki! I hope your Silk Road series finds a home. This is a very fascinating time period and setting!

22 03 2010

Congratulations Vicki! I am so happy for you and I can not wait to read the book.

22 03 2010
Candi Wall

Huge congratulations, Vicki!

Your opening was awesome and drew us all right in. Well deserved and I know we’ll see it on shelves soon!

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