Updated: Jun 4
Award-winning author Gayla K. Hiss began her writing journey painting landscapes. In her imagination, characters and scenes came to life as she painted beautiful natural settings. Her inspiring novels combine her love for the great outdoors with romance, suspense, and adventure. Her book WILDFIRE recently won the Faith, Hope, and Love Reader’s Choice Award for romantic suspense.
Gayla and her husband often tour the country in their RV, visiting many state and national parks. She enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling, and lives in the Pacific Northwest. She’s excited to announce the recent release of COLD PURSUIT, book 4 in her Peril in the Park series which can be purchased on Amazon. Visit www.gaylakhiss.com to learn more, and connect with her on Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads.
Now, let's learn some more about Gayla!
SJJ: When you were a child, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
GKH: I wanted to be an artist or an architect. I guess the combination of creative and technical skills required to design buildings appealed to me. When I went to college, I majored in engineering and discovered I liked writing software, which also required a mix of the creative with the technical. In the workplace, I learned that I also enjoyed technical writing.
SJJ: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
GKH: Looking back, I remember being drawn to books when I was young, but when I read The Scarlet Pimpernel in high school, it made a lasting impression on me. It had romance, suspense, mystery, and adventure. I looked for other novels in that genre and discovered books by Victoria Holt. I remember thinking it would be fun to write novels like hers, but I didn’t think it would be very practical. It wasn’t until years later, when I was working as an engineer, that I began writing fiction. It was a very gradual process. It started when I was painting landscapes as a hobby. However, staring at the canvas in addition to looking at the computer screen at work all day strained my eyes, so I began writing as a creative outlet and a way to relax. It also gave life to the scenes and characters that entered my mind as I painted landscapes, and I realized then that I was a writer.
SJJ: What are the things that inspire you?
GKH: Music is a big inspiration for me. It can evoke different emotions and memories, and it stimulates my imagination. Also, being outdoors in beautiful locations really stokes my creativity. When I can’t think of the right words, a walk outside often brings them to mind. I find that hiking in the wilderness is very good for generating new ideas and gaining clarity about a project I’m thinking about.
SJJ: What current song (or old favorite) has you turning up the radio and singing along?
GKH: Lately, I’ve been rediscovering old, classic hymns. One that has resonated with me recently is ‘It is Well with My Soul’.
SJJ: What actor or actress (or both) makes you more interested in seeing a movie just because they are in it?
GKH: Tom Cruise’s movies always catch my interest. I guess it goes back to when he was in ‘The Firm’, which was set in Memphis, TN, my home town.
SJJ: What is your favorite thing to do outside?
GKH: I like to take long walks and hikes. I also enjoy gardening, though I don’t have a very green thumb. My husband and I like to camp in our RV at state and national parks. Our most recent RV trip was through Montana and the Dakotas, where we toured Glacier, Theodore Roosevelt, Badlands, and Wind Cave National Parks, as well as Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park.
SJJ: What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing books?
GKH: The editing part is the hardest for me, but it always pays off in the end. I have to remind myself of that as I’m revising my book and be open to feedback from others. Many times they point out things that I was blind to before. It’s very humbling, but I’m always grateful for that constructive criticism.