Today’s Author Interview is with Heather R. Blair. I first came across Heather when I put out an open read-to review request on Goodreads for The Secret Dead. Heather offered to review it, and had some lovely things to say (which was very soothing for a nervous newbie author).
As with every author who has reviewed me, or taken the time to say nice things about my writing, I took a look at what books she had written. I don’t do reciprocal reviews, or do reviews of anyone who has reviewed my own work, but I do like to support my fellow indies. I’ve also found (surprise surprise) that those authors who enjoy my work often have a similar taste in books. Stalking my reviewers has been a great way for reader-me to discover talented new authors.
At the time, Heather had a book of fantasy short stories out: Shivers, which I read and thoroughly enjoyed. When I decided to start doing author interviews, Heather’s was one of the first names that came to mind, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that she has had a busy year.
Smoke in Moonlight, the first in her Celtic Elementals series, was released in June, and Phoenix Rising in July. Even better, the second Celtic Elementals book, Blood In Fire, is out today, so there is plenty for Heather R. Blair fans to get excited about.
And now after a ridiculously long introduction, take a look at what Heather has to say in her own words:
The first in your Celtic Elementals series was published this year. Can you give me a sneak peek of what’s coming next?
The Celtic Elementals series is near and dear to my heart. I have always had a bit of an obsession with Celtic myth and the chance to put my own spin on it has been intoxicating. The 1st book, Smoke In Moonlight, was all about Lacey Ryan, a young woman who takes a leap of faith and goes to the country she has been dreaming of her whole life — Ireland, of course! She gets way more than she expected when she meets up with Ronan Fitzpatrick, a man under an ancient curse and his odd but sweet family.
The 2nd book in the series comes out 11/20. Blood in Fire is the much darker story of Aidan O’Neill, a vampire with a long and bloody past, who is plagued by a vicious demon and an obsessive goddess. He knows better than to open his heart to anyone, but finds that hard to resist when he meets Heather Kantos, a woman who is fighting darkness of her own.
As for what’s next, it seems like I am always juggling a few projects, lol.
I am already writing my 2nd installment in the Phoenix Inc. series. This series is more UF than PNR and centers loosely around a Chicago foundation established for ‘paras’, a group of people with varied psychic gifts.
I also plan to start the 3rd book in the Celtic Elementals series(Lightning in Sea) in Spring 2015. Hopefully this will take place after a trip to Ireland and the Isle of Mann for research tentavively planned for April. I am SO excited!
Out of all the characters in your books, who is your favourite and why?
Oh god, that is like asking me to pick a favorite child! I am partial to my tortured heroes, particularly Aidan O’Neill from Blood in Fire, and Maxmillian Gray from a couple of shorts I wrote in the short story anthology, Shivers: 9 Dark & Twisted Tales.
What is it that attracts you to writing fantasy?
Control!! lol Seriously, that is a big part of it. There are no rules in fantasy, you make the world as you see fit. And that is a beautiful thing. Plus, I have just adored sci-fi/fantasy my whole life. I love all kinds of books, but that genre will always be my fave.
What has been the best compliment you’ve received as an author?
Every time someone tells me I made them laugh or made them cry or that they didn’t want the story to end. That always makes me glow for days. Writing is all about sharing a piece of your soul, when it comes right down to it. No matter how funny, dark, silly, twisted or sad, it’s always very personal, and having someone accept that and enjoy it, well, it’s the best feeling in the world!
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
I am the perpetual editor, I ALWAYS see things I want to change, lol. One thing for sure though, I would be more fearless. Now, I am learning to spread my wings, so watch out. 🙂
Who are your favourite authors, and how would you say they have influenced you as a writer?
Argh, another hard one. How much room do you have on your blog, anyway?! 🙂
Okay, first up has to be Stephen King. I have writers I like better than him, but to me, he’s the master of so much, particularly chacterization. And his book ‘On Writing’ is kind of my writing bible.
Others would include Ursula K LeGuin, C.S. Lewis, Barbara Kingsolver, Sir Walter Scott, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Anne McCaffrey, Robin McKinley, Karin Slaughter, Julie Garwood(her older romance stuff), Jude Devereaux and certainly Nora Roberts, who doesn’t get nearly enough credit, IMO, for just being a damn good writer. Also love her stuff as JD Robb, she is the queen of great female characters and hilarious dialogue. Oh, and definitely can’t forget Madeline L’Engle, Susan Cooper and Morgan Llywelyn, the latter two are hugely responsible for my fascination with Celtic myth and legend.
Roger Zelanzy had a massive influence on me as well, his world building still stuns me every time I re-read the Amber books and I have to say his anti-hero archetypes always make me swoon.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t give up! Writing can be fun and exhilarating, but it’s not easy. You WILL have bad days, you will have AWFUL days, days when you want to chuck the whole thing out the nearest high window.
Don’t do it.
Writing is the ultimate expression of hope; hope that we matter, that our stories are important, that our petty little thoughts have meaning, that our dreams are worth sharing. Don’t ever forget that. (though it might be worth investing in a punching bag you can hang next to the computer for those bad review days!)
SWF: This last answer from Heather really struck a chord with me. I wanted to give up so many times when I was writing The Secret Dead. One of the things I’ve found hardest about writing is trying to reconcile the words on the page with the ideal in my head. At the end, it was just pure stubbornness keeping me going . So, for all of you still struggling on your first novel, I suggest copying Heather’s words out and sticking them to your computer screen. We’ve all been there. Frustration and bad days are part of the process of becoming a good writer.
Smoke in Moonlight
The misty green land of ‘Lacey’ Solace Ryan’s secret dreams. Lately, those dreams have taken on a dark and tantalizing twist. But that won’t stop her from finally going there herself. What–and who–she finds there will change her life, or end it entirely.
Ronan Fitzpatrick is a man both blessed and cursed. Blessed with a loving and close-knit family and cursed with a burden no man should have to bear. For centuries out of mind, Ronan has been faoladh, the werewolf. The only dark warrior of Lugh the Long Hand, Ronan fights on the side of light, but lives with a darkness threatening to swallow him whole. Only his family keeps him from crossing over and he would do anything to protect them.
When his dreams show him an American woman, a woman who can shift the balance within him and in doing so, destroy everything he holds dear, Ronan knows what he must do. Even if it means killing an innocent, he won’t hesitate.
He mustn’t, or everything he knows will transform…
like SMOKE IN MOONLIGHT A book seeped in Celtic and pagan mythology, teeming with shifters, demons, gods and even a vampire, SMOKE IN MOONLIGHT will rip open your imagination to the possibility of other worlds, worlds that will continue to be explored in BLOOD in FIRE and LIGHTNING in SEA.
Blood In Fire
Aidan O’Neill is dangerous. No, make that deadly. A vampire prince who turned his back on his throne, enraging his king and marking himself for death.
The only thing Aidan dreams about is seeing the sun again. After all, it has been 1200 years. When his best friend stumbles across a secret potion than can grant his wish, Aidan can’t resist stealing it. What happens after may change the world forever.
Heather Kantos is a world-famous model who hides a darkness deep inside her. A darkness she shares with no one.
When Aidan and Heather come together, a chain of events begin that will take them all the way from Istanbul to Ireland, from his past to her future, from darkness to light and back again. In the end, will they find what they need in each other?
Or will it all just burn away? Like…Blood in Fire.
Ten years ago Miles Rousseau and Kelsey Daeger met in Paris—what passed between them there has haunted them both ever since.
When Miles starts looking into a series of gruesome vamp murders that strike close to his heart, his only option is to reach out to Phoenix, Inc.—a foundation for gifted paras—and Kelsey, a pysch-para with the rare ability to track and spy on vampires undetected. He has first-hand knowledge of her skill—because he was her first target.
Kelsey doesn’t know what to think when Miles shows up in her office. Suddenly, the redemption she had long given up on seems tantalizingly within reach….
But Miles isn’t all that is reaching out from the ashes of Kelsey’s past, what their investigation reveals may destroy them both….
If they don’t destroy each other first….
Shivers: 9 Dark & Twisted Tales
A vampire who can’t outrun the werewolf she betrayed, a young heroin addict dying to join a very exclusive club, a man who gets on the wrong side of a Navajo skinwalker… From sexy to macabre, from the scintillating to the supernatural, these tales have one thing in common…Shivers!
This collection starts with ON EDGE, Anna is a centuries old vampire running from her past, only to find it stalking her like a wolf through the desert night.
Next, in ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, Diana doesn’t get out much, but when she does it’s one hell of a night.
In SHADES OF WINTER, what will horrors will hunger drive drive young lovers to?
THE FOURTH OF NEVER contains a July 4th show you won’t forget.
Picking up strangers in bars can be a dangerous proposition, even for a vamp in THE GAME.
Childhood friends aren’t what they seem, but the SKINWALKER always knows what’s in your heart.
Riding a train of the damned, an up-and-coming punk singer gets a glimpse of destiny, in 27.
Toby thought the worst thing about his sexy hook-up was her being an Auburn fan. Boy, is he wrong! Will he make a clean ALABAMA GETAWAY?
And diving back into the characters from from the first tale, MAX IN NYC follows Maximillian Gray as he confronts his past. Things are going to get bloody fast.
These 9 dark and twisted tales are full of shifters, vamps, goddesses, zombies, ghosts and a Native American monster or two—and packed with SHIVERS!