Novelist Elin Hilderbrand on Balancing Writing and Motherhood

Elin Hilderbrand
Elin Hilderbrand

A writer's life is never easy, but being a writing mom presents special challenges. Between laundry, meals, supervising homework, and attending after school activities, when do mothers find time to write?

Novelist Elin Hilderbrand is an expert at balancing her career with the needs of her three young children. Her most recent novel, Silver Girl, was published on June 21, 2011 and hit the New York Time's bestseller list on July 10. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the fiction workshop at The University of Iowa, Ms. Hilderbrand relies on good time management and strong organizational skills in order to carve out time for writing in between all of the duties that motherhood entails.

The Challenge of Being a Writing Mom

LoveToKnow (LTK): You typically publish one book each year, which is quite impressive for someone with three children. How do you balance the demands of being a mother with your career as a writer?

Elin Hilderbrand (EH): It's a daily challenge. This summer, for example, my two sons are both playing All-Star Little League baseball. (Mom bragging here!) They have tournaments every weekend, often off-island, and I'm the parent who accompanies them. I get a lot more writing done in the winter when the kids are at school; I work in a separate location, away from the house, the phone, the dishes!

Silver Girl
Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

LTK: What is a typical workday like for you? Do you have specific goals that you set for yourself or do you prefer to write when inspiration strikes?

EH: Well, I don't have the luxury of waiting to be inspired. I try to work 10-6 five days a week during the fall, winter and spring, and in the summer, I work when I can. Oh boy, it's tough sometimes, but I treat it like a job, just like anyone's job. I have to show up and I have to produce.

LTK: Where do you do most of your writing? If you have a home office, are your children allowed to come and go as they please?

EH: In the summer, I ride my bike to the beach and write longhand in legal pads. In the winter, I write in a different house, as I've said, and the kids don't know where that is! I also always turn off the phone.

LTK: What do your children think of your career as a writer? Do they know that mom is a New York Times bestselling author?

EH: My kids know I'm a writer; they like to find my name on the bestseller list, but it's not clear that they know exactly how much peace and quiet my career requires. My oldest child is almost twelve -- he wants to read my books, but I think he's still four or five years away from that.

LTK: What advice would you give to LoveToKnow's aspiring fiction writers?

EH: Start at the beginning and move to the end. Don't let the nebulous middle stall you. . . just power through and go back and revise later. It's about hard work, not genius.

Read Elin Hilderbrand's Books

Silver Girl tells the story of a woman who seeks out an old friend after discovering her husband was guilty of financial crimes of the Bernie Madoff variety. Meredith Martin Delinn is shocked by her husband's arrest and furious that authorities believe she and her son were also involved in efforts to swindle investors out of millions of dollars. Escaping to her friend Connie's Nantucket beach house provides the opportunity she needs to piece together what's left of her life.

In addition to Silver Girl, Ms. Hilderbrand is the author of the following novels, all of which are also set in Nantucket:

  • The Castaways
  • The Island
  • A Summer Affair
  • Barefoot

You can download excerpts from her books as well as book club study guides on the Hatchette Book Group website.

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Novelist Elin Hilderbrand on Balancing Writing and Motherhood