Creative writing was something that North Phoenix resident Barbara Hinske had always kept tucked away for retirement, but life had other plans.
In 2010, well into her 35 years as a practicing attorney, Hinske was in an automobile accident that left her with a broken neck, double vision, and a lot of recovery time on her hands.
“I was just bored out of my mind, but with double vision, I couldn’t read, watch TV, use a computer. All I could do, really, was walk,” Hinske recalled.
Fortunately, it was November in Arizona, when the weather is generally mild.
“I just walked and walked and walked, for hours. And I just came up with my Rosemont series cast of characters and plot arcs.”
“Coming to Rosemont,” Hinske’s first book, was the product of those long walks, and the series continues to expand. Currently, there are seven books plus a short Christmas novel that was just published as an anthology, and she is planning on writing the next book in the series this year.
While the Rosemont series was her introduction to and mainstay in the world of fiction writing, and her 2018 novella “The Christmas Club” was made into a Hallmark movie in 2019, Hinske says she is most proud of her “Guiding Emily” series.
Inspired by a 2019 visit to the Foundation for Blind Children in North Phoenix, “Guiding Emily” tells the tale of Emily Main, who loses her eyesight on her honeymoon, and Garth, a guide dog in training, and their journey to find each other.
“I was so moved by what I saw that I asked, ‘What can I do to help?’ and they said, ‘Well we need to raise awareness within the sighted community of the isolation that the blind feel.’ And, of course, they’re nonprofit. They need money, so I said I could do both with the novel — raise awareness and donate money.”
Half of the proceeds from the first book are donated to the Foundation.
“I love the Rosemont series, but ‘Guiding Emily’ is profound in its outreach and its encouragement within the visually impaired community and the sighted community.”
From those early days spent walking and developing “Rosemont,” to the “wild” experience of seeing her book made into a Hallmark Christmas movie, Hinske finally worked up the courage to give up her law practice and focus on writing full time. For those who feel the pull to bring their own characters to life on a page and need some encouragement, she suggests finding a good writing group — she’s a member of the Grand Canyon chapter of Sisters in Crime group — and staying in touch with what is happening in the industry — Hinske tunes in daily to an author conference on Clubhouse. She also offers her own encouragement.
“The best advice I can give anyone is push aside all the naysayers in your life because there will be plenty of people that will tell you, ‘Oh, you could never sell it, you’ll never make a living, blah, blah.’
“I’m a hybrid author, meaning I self-published in print, my audio stuff is all traditionally published, and I’ve become very, very successful. I’ve replaced my lawyer income with author income. If can do it, anybody can do it.”