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miam book fair feature: Ambitions as a RUFF WRITER

The only thing steamier than a Vicki Hendricks novel is the sticky air of a summer night in Miami. When the Florida-based mystery writer combines the former with the latter, the effect is mesmerizing. Always with a hint of tropical flavor, Hendricks’ sultry novels take various settings, ranging from a Miami dry cleaner to a boat on the Bahamas. The smoldering world of Hendricks’ books transcends her fiction-a self-proclaimed “thrill seeker,” she relishes extreme sports, raw emotion, and in general, life on the cusp of danger.
Hendricks has penned such novels as Miami Purity, Iguana Love, and Voluntary Madness. She is one of over 250 authors participating in the annual Miami Book Fair International, a convention of international writers and book lovers.
We caught up with Vicki Hendricks to discuss the book fair, skydiving, and the “weirdos” who seem to crawl the Miami streets.

Q: Were you born a writer, or was it an interest you picked up later on in life?

Hendricks: I think I always wanted to be a writer, although I thought that dream was impossible. I thought all the “real” writers had come and gone centuries back! I tried to write, and in my 20s and 30s, I basically wrote a lot of notes. Back then I was teaching literature instead of writing, so I always loved books. It wasn’t until my late 30s that I started to write-I didn’t know how to at first. No one realizes that the book you see on the shelves is a seamless, polished product. It’s not quite so simple once you try it. Learning the techniques of writing scenes and characters really helped me get started, as well as having deadlines.

Q: Your last book was Sky Blues, which was released in February. Your next novel is called Cruel Poetry. Can you tell us a little about that?

VH: I have a few chapters still to write. My others are all written in first person narrator and confined to a small scope. This one has a broader scope with three different narrators, and lots of sex and violence. It’s basically about prostitutes and the people who are obsessed with her.

Q: The Miami Book Fair International starts today. What’s your involvement?
VH: I’m on a panel with fellow author Carolina Garcia-Aguilera, and we’re speaking at three o’ clock on Saturday, Nov. 23. We’re going to read a little bit and talk about particular novels. And I always manage to get some skydiving talk in there!

Q: I understand you teach writing at Broward Community College. Is teaching kind of a letdown for you, compared with writing your own stuff?

VH: Not at all! I’ve been teaching for 20 years, and I only began writing 12 years ago.

November 22, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.