Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Author Interview: Heather Gray

Heather Gray

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Alaska!  I've wanted to visit Alaska for as long as I can remember.  Can you imagine the wildlife there?  Or seeing the glaciers?  There's a field of blue glaciers!  And – though some people may not find this fascinating – they have ice worms!  It's not the sort of place you can visit in a long weekend or even week, though.  If my publisher flies me to Alaska, I'll stay for months and have enough spectacular fun to give me fodder for at least a dozen novels!

What is one silly fact about you?

I love coffee and bright colors (though not brightly colored coffee!).

What got you started on your writing journey?

I've always enjoyed writing, but my life was very full and busy with children, a work-from-home office job and taking care of home and hearth.  Then in 2011 my daughter was diagnosed with a serious illness.  We lost her in 2012.

The week following her memorial service, a friend asked me what I planned to do with the rest of my life.  It was a complicated and painful question.  I ultimately decided I had nothing to lose.  If I tried to write something and got rejected, it couldn't possibly hurt any worse than I was already hurting.  It's a terribly sad impetus to writing, but I've been more than thankful during this last year to have something so positive happening in my life.

Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance?  Do you write steamy romance as well?

People have many different opinions about this, and this is mine:  I can't write anything I wouldn't be comfortable letting my children read (at the right age).  It's very unlikely that my thirteen year old son will be picking up a romance to read…ever.  However, should he ever want to read something I've written, I don't want to have to blush and stammer my way through an explanation.  It's not okay for me to tell him he's not allowed to watch certain things on television but then turn around and justify how I can write those things in books.  It's entirely unfair (not to mention hypocritical) if I tell him he's not allowed to look at certain things in magazines, but it's okay for me to draw those same pictures with words.  For that reason, I keep my writing clean, and I avoid the steamy romances altogether.

What other things do you have planned with your writing for the rest of the year 2013?

I am beyond pleased to announce that I have three more books and a short story under contract with Astraea Press!  I learned more than I can say during the writing and editing of this first book, and the next books (as well as my readers!) are the beneficiaries of that experience.  Whenever I sit down to write, I know that what I am creating is better than anything I've written thus far.  The possibilities are endless!  The other books coming out later this year are: Just Dessert, the second book in the Ladies of Larkspur series; Ten Million Reasons, a humorous contemporary romance; His Saving Grace, a regency romance; and Late For The Ball?, a Young Adult short story that I hope will be thoroughly enjoyed by youth and adults.

How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing?

If you ever come across a quirky character that sleeps little and is obsessed with coffee…that might be me.  :)  I made an interesting discovery early on – I can't create emotion.  Coming up with fictional situations for my characters is the easy part.  Capturing emotions and getting them down onto paper, though, is completely different.  Some writers may be able to, but I simply can't believably portray emotions that I haven't myself experienced.  I have to draw on my own life, in a way reliving those very emotions, so that I can give voice to the feelings of my characters.  Whether fear, anger, hilarity, love, jealousy or despair – I can write those feelings because I've lived them.  I do, however, tap into a wonderful resource I have (my husband!) when writing emotions for male characters.  I kind of get it – men don't exactly process emotions the same way women do. They don't always respond the way we think they will.  It's part of what prevents life from ever getting too terribly boring.  When I'm writing a scene and ask myself, "Is that realistic?  Would a man really say/do that?" I go to my husband and run it by him.  I've changed a few scenes based on his input.

If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be?

"She's learning to embrace life."  (Okay, I know that's probably not quite what you meant when you said five words.  My problem is, Sarah undergoes a lot of growth and change during this book.  Who she believes she is at the beginning of the book is very different from who she discovers herself to be by the end of the book.)

What are your hero and heroine of the story like?

Sarah is the good girl, the boringly good girl.  It's never occurred to her to do anything rash or daring.  She has this idea about what's expected of her, both as a woman and as a child of God, and that idea is rather colorless.  Samuel, on the other hand, has faced some difficulty in his life, but he's come through it and, as a result, has learned to cherish life.  He loves completely and laughs loudly.  Nobody who gets near him can say life is dull.

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?

Coffee, love and faith are just the beginning.  Mail Order Man is a journey of self-discovery with a touch of laughter thrown in for good measure.

Do you have a favorite character you have written so far? 

I have two favorites, and Samuel is one of them.  I love his approach to life and his zest for living.  He says what's on his mind and tackles problems head-first. He won't allow fear of hurting someone's feelings prevent him from addressing uncomfortable topics that need to be discussed.  Samuel balances that blunt part of his personality with a tender side that knows when to step easy so he doesn't spook someone who is skittish.  Samuel won't settle for less than what he really wants, whether in relationships or coffee, and I like that about him.  Don't we all want a man who will not only fight for us, but who will also fight for a solid deep life-changing relationship with us?  As for my other favorite…you'll have to wait till my other books come out and then see if you can guess!  :) 


  1. Great interview Heather and I've got your book on my TBR Pile! Now to find time to read! Yikes...that's the hard part!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lisa! Time is always a tricky one, isn't it? ;)

  2. Heather,

    Your book, Mail Order Man, was one of the first books I bought after I got a Kindle (yay!). I really enjoyed this interview, it was fun getting to know you and your writing style better.

    Christi Corbett

    PS. Alaska would be my dream place too!

    1. Alaska Lover of the World unite! We should have our own club, right? ;) Thank you for visiting today Christi!

  3. What great questions (especially the first one!) and terrific answers. I'm not sure I could describe my main characters in five words. Well done, Heather!

    1. So glad you could stop by today Karen! Five words -- that was a hard question for sure! :)

  4. "Mail Order Man," was a great read. The characters were well developed, the writing was excellent, and the story is plausible.

    1. Thank you - I'm so glad you liked it! The next book in the series, "Just Dessert," should be out within the next month or so. I hope it shows my growth as a writer. :)

  5. Wonderful interview! I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter, but so inspiring that it led you to trust what was on your heart. <3

    1. Thank you Brooke. I'm so glad you stopped by today! It's not a journey I'd wish on anyone, but I hope that people who hear my story will realize how important it is to embrace each day and celebrate the life and potential that we each have.



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