September 28th, 2018
I asked Heather where she would like to talk:
It’s late. I don’t often stay awake past midnight let alone leave the house, but I know she’s waiting for me. I know she has important questions to ask. Questions she needs the answers to.
I glance around, trying to appear nonchalant, hands buried in the pockets of my heavy blue raincoat. It’s not raining, but I feel the threat of it in the air, the unmistakable thickness that clings to your skin and makes you feel unclean. Moving through the shadows I am more relaxed– hidden– but the glow of every street lamp exposes me and I feel as if my misdeeds are on display for all to see. Even so, I dare not avoid their illumination for fear of looking worried or weak. Why should I feel frightened? After all, the worst monster out on the street tonight could very well be me.
At Orchid Street I hang a right, ducking into the shadows of a weathered brick building veiled in crawling ivy. Just as she said it would be, the small blue door on the left side is unlocked. I take a few cautious steps into the blackness, and just as my eyes begin to adjust a single click is heard. Light sputters to life above me, flooding the room. Blinking away the pain, I see Laura right away, standing in the center of the room beside an overturned cable spool and two rickety chairs. Her right hand is still clinging to the pull string for the lights. Her left wields an expensive looking pen.
“Are you ready?” she asks me, her voice like honey and silk.
I take a deep breath. “Let’s do this,” I say, and the interrogation begins.
Laura Mae: Hello Heather! How’s it going, chica?
Heather Blair: Going well! Gearing up for a busy weekend.
L: Oh yeah? Whatchya got going on? If you don’t mind my asking.
H: The day job has me traveling to Austin, TX. I’ve never been, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m just a little bummed it will eat up all my reading and writing time.
L: I hear that! Double edged sword. I’ve never been there either. Must be a pretty nice job if you get to travel, though, right?
H: It’s a fun job. I work for a traveling comic convention company, and since I am a huge geek and fangirl, it’s the dream.
L: Oh wow! That sounds so exciting! Do you not write for them, then? Or is the writing you talking about more of a book you’re working on.
H: I don’t write for them, except a billion emails! The writing I do is like a second job. Well, I still consider it a hobby because I’m in the early stages.
L: You don’t like writing emails? Psha, you call yourself a writer?! Just kidding! Haha!
H: Weeeeeeell…. I am pretty good at it!
L: Haha! I bet! So, what are you working on right now Heather?
H: I am working on a sequel to my novel Lucid Dreaming. There will only be two of them, so I’m trying to make sure I cover all the ground I need to before I consider the first draft “finished”.
L: I was wondering if there was a sequel! That’s so great! I know what your story is about, but would you mind letting everyone else know?
H: Sure. It’s a slow burn love story between a young woman and her former professor. He is a different sort of person, unique in many ways and non-traditionally attractive, but this is what draws her to him. The more we learn about his past, the more we come to understand why he is the way he is, and why their romance can be both extremely passionate and extremely challenging.
L: I love it! A unique romance novel! How did the idea come to you? Pull any characters from real life at all?
H: I myself am attracted to odd people. I like to use the hashtag
#strangeisthenewsexy. I see a lot of romance novels with gorgeous men on the cover and I often think… he’s handsome, but he’s a dime a dozen. Quinn is not that! There are a few characters inspired from real life. The main character’s brother, Matthew, for one. Also her best friend Janelle. Many characteristics of these two characters are shared by a couple people I know, both of which will likely never read the book, but wouldn’t recognize themselves even if they did!
L: That’s so cool! And I agree! Six packs are so over rated. Haha!
H: I mean, Quinn has nice abs! Haha Skinny guy abs. Is there a scientific term for that?
L: Sk-abs? Haha!
H: We’ll have to work on that! Haha!
L: Anywho. Do you have a writing process? Anything you need before you sit down and write?
H: I like to write at night, but other than that there’s no particulars. I write out of sequential order until I start getting towards the completion. I usually don’t even create an outline until I become overwhelmed by all my bits and pieces. I’ve always written like that and my other writer friends can’t fathom it. I’m weird, I guess.
L: I mean, it’s a bit nontraditional, but whatever works for you girl! I think that’s the best part of writing, no one does it the same way! We’re all snowflakes!
H: True. I have to write the scene I’m thinking of in that moment while the inspiration is fresh and the ideas are flowing. Later on I can play the connect-the-dot game. Maybe this is why I have so many unfinished stories in my hard drive!
L: I can understand it. And when you put it that way, it’s not that weird. Gotta write when you’re inspired! How long have you been writing for, Heather?
H: Professionally, less than a year. But in general, since the first grade! I wrote a story about how Chowder the Cat saved Christmas and it filled up a whole spiral notebook cover to cover (double spaced and in a child’s giant handwriting, but still!) I never stopped from there, but it’s always been a hobby. I am super shy about my writing and I’ve never let anyone read my stuff.
L: Aw, that’s so cute! Especially because you can still remember that! Why so shy with your writing? From my experience, you’re a great writer!
H: I appreciate that. Writing is so incredibly personal. Even now, most of my family and friends don’t know I’ve published. If they find out organically, fine, but I won’t be the one to tell them! For one, the book I published has some NSFW content! But even the other, more PG-13 things I plan to publish eventually are hard for me to share. I guess it’s just a fear I am slowly training myself to get over.
L: No reason to be embarrassed. There are some works out these that can be very personal. Most writers don’t share it, just want to get it out. Just think of them as training yourself! What was it about Lucid Dreaming that you wanted to publish? Was it not as personal, then?
H: No, it is. I wanted to publish it because it was the first full novel I ever finished! I have a bad habit of running out of steam before I finish a story, but with Quinn and Alison it didn’t happen! I was shocked! It was also timing. I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years and we had a dinner together in which we both goaded one another to finally do the things we’d been dragging our feet about. For her, it was her inspirational blog (BusyBeaverBeauty) and for me it was publishing a book. I left the dinner with such a motivated feeling. I went home, finished the story in a few weeks and got to work on the rest soon after!
L: Good for you guys! That’s incredible! What part of the self-publishing process that you extremely underestimate? Or did you do your research (unlike me!)
H: In my head I thought, if I can’t just get 5 or 6 people to read it and review it, it’ll spread like wildfire! Boy, that wasn’t true, haha! Getting people to read an indie-authors book, especially people with clout, is like prying open a safe with a nail file.
L: Preach, girl. I thought it would be easier and go much faster. Just gotta keep going though!
H: And I totally get it! I’m a book snob myself! It takes a lot of time to read a book. One wants to be sure they’re going to make a good investment! Yes, I’ve been self-marketing which is a bit embarrassing. It feels weird to call attention to yourself. But I like to think of it as calling attention to Quinn and Alison because they are like real people to me.
L: Exactly! I think of my characters as my own children and I want everyone to know them! I have never been on social media as much as I have been than when I was in high school. It feels weird to ‘advertise’ yourself, but I think it’s worth it in the end. Do you happen to have a soundtrack for your WIP’s? What kind of music would you listen to?
H: I have a Spotify playlist of movie scores. I get distracted by lyrics so I try to stay away from that. The scores change the mood of the room every few minutes which can be both good and bad, but I find that’s my go-to soundtrack. That and K-Pop. Words can’t distract me if I don’t know what they mean!
L: Oh, what movies do you have soundtracks from? Avatar is one of my favorites.
H: The Avatar soundtrack is definitely on there! My favorite score is from Pride & Prejudice, the one with Keira Knightly. The composer’s name is Dario Marianelli and he also did the score for Jane Eyre with Michael Fassbender which is another beautiful one.
L: I love that! I’ll have to love him up. What about books? What would you say your favorite book is? And why.
H: For classics Pride & Prejudice is definitely up there! But until recently my favorite book was The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I am an old-schooler. I found it back in 2007 and have been getting people to read it since. Now it’s about to be EVERYWHERE and I just want to say… I saw it first, guys. Hahaha! But as recently as a couple weeks ago I read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo and it became my new instant favorite. It knocked The Name of the Wind off an eleven year pedestal, so that’s pretty prestigious.
L: Oh nice! That does sound like it would be pretty good! What do think put it at the top of your list?
H: The characters number one. I loved ALL the main characters. There was no weak link! They were all so distinct and well developed and interesting and fun and GAH! So good. But also the world building. It’s fantastical, but it’s also essentially the world we live in now (Ketterdam/Amsterdam, etc.) so it was easy to envision everything in my mind. I can’t praise the book enough. and the sequel, Crooked Kingdom.
L: Awesome!! So, Heather, besides reading, writing and traveling to Texas, what do you like to do in your spare time?
H: I am an Otaku. I watch a lot of anime! I have two cats. They are lovely. Sometimes I leave the house too, haha. I like to spend days in the city (New York), hang out with my friends and window shop, grab drinks. Like a lot of bookish people, I am an old lady before my time, but I’m ok with that.
L: Aw, that sounds like so much fun! What are the names of your kitties?
H: I have Tony (Tony_Bologna_Cat on IG. He’s semi-famous) and Violet. Tony has thousands and thousands more followers than his author mom. Sometimes I think this would be easier if the cat wrote the book.
L: Oh cute! I need to look him up! Haha! You’ll get there, girl! Alright Heather, one last question. Please leave us with your most wisdomy writer wisdom to aspiring authors.
H: Everyone tells you it will be hard… Well, it’s going to be even harder than that. The best thing I’ve done since I started is support other indies and bookish types. This community is extremely supportive of one another, hence this interview! Befriend people. Fangirl together, retweet and tag other people’s projects. Share other people’s blogs. Leave reviews for people! In the short time I’ve been in this industry I’ve already learned that paying it forward is the way to go. Remember, what goes around, comes around!
L: Yeess!! Great wisdomy wisdom! I agree so much with supporting each other! It’s not a competition and we need to be there for one another. Writers are the only other people who can fully understand other writers. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me Heather!
H: Thanks for inviting me to chat! I am a fan of yours! I can’t wait for the sequel to Fliers!
L: Thank you, girl!!
Heather Blair is an indie romance author hailing from the Green Mountain State, Vermont. She holds a degree in Theater Arts and has been writing ever since her first project, The Tale of Chowder the Cat, garnered rave reviews from her first-grade teacher and parents. She dabbles in freelance voice over, podcasting and other hobbies that allow her to fangirl over her various fandoms. She currently resides in Connecticut with her two cats.
Alison Waverly was born into a family of science geniuses, but the brainiac gene apparently skipped her. Still, her artistic and literary passions are supported by her parents, especially her doting father Charles, who also happens to be the Chairman of the Psychology Department at the prestigious Grayson University. When Alison spies her father sitting in his office looking distressed, she learns that an unknown 27-year-old “kid” has been invited into the Psychology department without her father’s knowledge or approval. Quinn Kaneko, an eccentric, enigmatic figure who rarely wears shoes and looks as though he never sleeps, is surprisingly unobtrusive and quickly develops a lasting friendship with the formerly skeptical Charles and his fetching daughter.
Conventionally attractive, well-rounded and charming, Alison could date any man she wanted– so it comes as a surprise to everyone, including herself, when she begins to fall for her friend and former professor, Quinn. He is nothing like anyone she’s dated before, but as she matures, his unusual appearance, odd demeanor, and incomprehensible brilliance begin to intrigue her. Upon discovering her growing feelings for him, Quinn is equally surprised– and stunned to realize he has begun to feel a connection with Alison as well. Together they unearth a previously undiscovered world of romantic possibilities, their days and nights suddenly consumed with intense passion.
Taking the road less traveled comes with its own set of challenges, however, and the lovers quickly find out that being together will not be a walk in the park.
Quinn, the man who knows everything, is disillusioned by the fact that relationships have stumped him, and when the underlying cause of his unorthodox behavior rears its ugly head, he is frustrated in trying not to entangle Alison. Meanwhile, Alison struggles to be supportive to a man who refuses to open up to her, concealing his darkest secrets, and constantly keeping her at arm’s length.
But when the truth and consequences of Quinn’s dark past finally come to light, can their relationship survive the storm?