Gail Hulnick is a former broadcast journalist who channeled her television and radio experience into her first novel, The Lion’s Share of the Air Time. It is a mystery thriller about a celebrity reporter who falls from his high-rise apartment balcony and became Book 1 of the Media Mysteries series.
Since then, she’s written and published five other novels, five travel books, two how-to books, and a collection of short stories. She can’t say where she lives right now, because she is in the middle of moving from Florida to the Pacific Northwest.
Tell us about your new book. Kangaroo Court Along the rugged coast of central California, the intimate life of star quarterback Jesse Tuvornay has come into the crosshairs. At the gym, shopping, driving around town, or on a date with his supermodel girlfriend—his every move is watched, documented, and posted. But this isn’t publicity—it’s a violation. And the scandal is spreading faster than a virus. Kangaroo Court was published in paperback, Ebook, and audiobook in March 2023.
What are you currently working on? I am writing Book 5 of the Media Mysteries, a story set in the New York book publishing world and tentatively titled Monkey Me Monkey You.
What else is in this series? Book 2, A Bird in the Sand, is set in Savannah, Georgia, and it’s about movie-making. It won a Royal Palm Literary Award from the Florida Writers Association in 2020. Book 3, Sleeping Dogs Lie, tells a story that arises from a newspaper column and was honored with an RPLA in 2022. The newest one, Book 4, is Kangaroo Court, about character assassination on social media. These five novels are darker than the ones in my other mystery series, Resorting. The danger is real, and the stakes are higher. In the Resorting books, the antagonists are not quite so threatening, although they do stir up some dust that needs settling. I’ve done Resorting to Murder, Resorting to Larceny, and Resorting to Fraud, plus a collection of short stories in that one.
Where do you find titles and character names? The titles jump into my head at random. The character names don’t come as easily. I’ve found that the more books I write and the more characters I create, the farther afield I have to reach to find names I haven’t used before. For me, this is an area for overthinking, sometimes, too. I struggled for a while and then discovered a trick while watching the credits roll after a movie. I jot down first names and last names, then mix them up. I often get an emotional reaction to those names that I don’t get when I just try to dream them up. I then double-check them all with an online search and an imdb search ( https://www.imdb.com/ )to ensure I haven’t chosen the name of a public figure that my readers might know. I want them to come to my character without any preconceived reactions because of associations they might have with a name.
Do you outline or discovery write? I tried “pantsing” at first, and it took me a long time to finish a draft. Twelve years. I am trying to pick up the pace these days, and I’ve found that time spent at the beginning, telling my story and sketching it in an outline, helps me move quickly through the stages of getting the scenes down and working with the paragraphs and sentences.
What kind of research do you do? I love the research stage and will happily interrupt myself to go down a rabbit hole for hours or days. I try to be as accurate as possible about the dates when something happened or changed and the methods people use to do something in real life. I also enjoy learning about something new and often collect far too many details than I need for the story.
Advice for new writers? Take yourself on an “artist date,” as Julia Cameron recommends in her outstanding book The Artist’s Way. Fill the creative well regularly by viewing art, listening to music, walking in an amazing natural setting, or reading a new book. Read something written with a skill level far beyond yours so that even if you’ve written and published dozens or hundreds of books, you continue to learn and develop.
How do our readers contact you? I would love to have you join my VIP Reader’s Group. You can sign up at my writer’s or publisher’s websites.
My writer website is http://www.gailhulnick.com/
I also run a publisher website at http://www.windwordgroup.com/, where I post about my fiction, nonfiction, and podcast, The Brainwave.
You can contact me at either one. I am on Instagram using my publisher name https://www.instagram.com/windwordpandm/
I am on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/windwordgroup/ and Author Gail Hulnick.
Interesting to mix up names from movie credits as a source for story character names. And I especially love, “continue to learn and develop.”
Thanks, Karen! I’m one of the people who sits through the credits at the end of a movie … the music usually makes it worthwhile, too! And ‘learn and develop’ — there’s a wonderful line in a John Mellencamp song that goes ” we were young and we were improving”… I like to substitute the word ‘old’, sometimes.
Excellent advice on writing, Gail. You certainly have devised a process that obviously works very well for you. Best of luck on your new one.
Thank you, Michael! I am now almost finished Book 5 in my Resorting series, titled Resorting to Arson. Hoping to have it out at the end of May.