Heather Blake grew up in a suburb of Boston, and enjoys going “home” in her novels. As a young mother, she tried her hand at writing novels and hasn’t looked back.
Heather also writes under the name Heather Webber. So far, she has 11 published novels, one ebook, and several short stories in print under her alter ego.
What was the most memorable research trip you’ve made?
Most of my research is done online, but once I wanted to research a specific park because I wanted to bury a fictional body there. So I dragged my husband to the park just after nightfall, to coincide with my plotline. It was pitch-black and freezing cold. The wind was whipping, the leaves were rustling, and the chains on the swing set were clinking against their poles. Meanwhile, I was practically glued to my husband’s side as I determined where exactly, in the middle of the woods, that I could hide a (fictional!) body. It was the most creeped out I’d ever been.
Are there any stories that have made you cry, laugh, stunned you or rendered you speechless when you heard it, that you had to incorporate them in your fiction?
True story: when my critique partners and I get together and we hear a crazy story, we actually call “dibs” to claim rights to use it in a book. There are many small incidents, but one big one that sticks out. In the Lucy Valentine series (written under Heather Webber), one of the main characters, Sean, has a defibrillator. A friend I met through an online group also had one, and I asked her help with developing the character. One of her revelations of living with a defibrillator was that it can knock someone you’re hugging across the room. I knew immediately I had to use that in one of the Lucy books, and it actually turned into one of my favorite scenes in the series.
What is the most disgusting fact you’ve woven a story around?
I’m laughing — what a question! I’d have to say an incontinent Chihuahua is about as disgusting as my books get.
How would you say you have evolved as a writer over time?
I like to think I’ve gotten better over the years. I’m a self-professed “plotaholic” (I can’t have too many plots in my books), so I’ve really had to learn to self-edit and cut unnecessary plots. Sometimes it’s painful, but it’s usually best for the story.
When you’re not writing, what are your favorite ways to relax and have some fun?
I’m a total homebody, so my favorite thing is to just hang out with my family. Watch movies (my daughter and I are currently on a Gilmore Girls marathon). I love to read, bake, and watch reality TV.
Of all the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?
It’s too hard to choose a favorite! I love each for different reasons.
Do you have plans to write other genres in the future?
Right now I don’t. I think I’ve found my niche writing paranormal romantic mysteries. They’re light and fun and incorporate everything I love in fiction: a little romance, a little mystery, and a little magic.
Has your life changed since you’ve become a published author? If so, how?
I’m naturally shy and writing has really helped me to come out of my shell a little more. Through the writing community, I’ve made so many friends, and it’s always great catching up with them either online or at book signings or conferences.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment at a book signing?
It wasn’t a book signing, but while I was on a panel. The moderator asked what my latest release was about — and I couldn’t remember. Completely blanked. See, I’d written that book about three years before and had written three since that time. They were all jumbled in my head. It took me a few minutes, but it finally came to me. Embarrassing, though!
I have found that some authors listen to music while they write. Do you listen to music or is it something that is distracting to you?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It depends on my mood. Music doesn’t bother me, and sometimes it sets the mood. When I wrote a Christmas-themed book recently, I had carols playing in the background.
Do you ever fear writer’s block or that you’ll let your audience down?
All the time! I’m nothing if not neurotic. I just have to keep telling myself to get the words on the page—they can be fixed later. It’s getting something down that counts.
Do you belong to any writers groups and what do you feel you have gained from the social sites?
I have a local critique group that meets every other week. We’ve been together almost ten years now, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. Social sites have introduced me to many, many friends. It always amazes me how close I can feel to people I’ve never met.
Are there any characters in your books that represent you?
I think there is a little of me in every one of my main characters. I mostly write first person, so little bits of my personality, my humor, sometimes sneaks in.
How much of the characters and story lines come from people you know and your own experiences versus your imagination?
I love taking typical news stories and twisting and turning to fit my plots. For example, in the first book in the Lucy Valentine series, set in Massachusetts, there’s a little boy missing in a local state park and psychic Lucy is determined to find him. Locally, here in the Cincinnati area, there had been a little boy missing from a park. The real story did not have a happy ending. But the mom in me made sure the fictional story did.
How do you keep your characters fresh and the plot exciting?
There’s a saying in the writing world that there are no new plots — just different ways to write them. I think that’s fairly true. For me, it’s the characters that bring a story to life, whether it’s a historical romance or a futuristic thriller. I try to write characters I care about, that I can relate to. They’re usually on the quirky side, yet they have their flaws.
Can you tell us one thing about yourself that most of your fans don’t already know?
I’m laughing again, because between my two websites, I list over 75 things that you might not know about me on my “about me” pages. Hmm. One more? If I didn’t love bacon so much I’d probably be a vegetarian.
What impact do electronic readers create on the bottom line for authors in the end? Do you feel they have a negative impact or positive, or no impact at all that you can see?
There is definitely a shift going on, but I’m not sure yet if it’s positive or negative. Time will tell for sure. Personally, I hope the two (print books and ebooks) can peacefully coexist. I love both.
Click the link to read my review for It Takes a Witch.
Click here for Heather’s Winter Holiday Fireside Moments Interview.
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