I asked Heather to tell me about her life, her writing, and her new release. Over to Heather ...
I love mountains, I love rolling hills and fields, and I love the lush greenness of the beautiful British Isles. I also love horses. To put the two together was irresistible.
The idea for Devil’s Hoof arose when I had been talking at a writing group about my pony being stricken with Laminitis, a painful affliction affecting the feet. From that conversation sprang the title, and from there the story grew, almost of its own volition. Many pieces created during writing workshops engineered themselves around the premise and became part of the finished book.
Laminitis has several causes, the most common being the ingestion, by small ponies, of too much spring grass. It also has parallels with human diabetes, in that it is the fructans (a type of sugar) which can trigger an attack. Given the ex-soldier, suffering from PTSD and unable to cope with civilian life, it was an easy step then to envisage my hero with his dark secret.
I have experienced first hand the incredible effects homoeopathy can achieve in curing and controlling Laminitis – often with better results than conventional veterinary medicine – so I knew how Shani could treat Matt. A friend is a Reiki practitioner, so she was able to help me with that.
I have plans for further novels to tell the stories of Matt’s siblings and cousins, and I have written an anthology of Vampire Romance short stories (Vampires Don’t Drink Coffee and Other Stories), but my first love will always be the Regency. To date, I have written four full-length novels, three novellas and several short stories in the genre. Of these, two of the novels, two novellas and a short story are published.
A Sense of the Ridiculous
When a prank goes wrong, headstrong squire’s daughter Jocasta Stanyon wakes up in the bedchamber of an inn with no memory of who she is. The inn is owned by widow Meg Cowley and her handsome son Richard, who proves to be more than a match for the unconventional Miss Stanyon.
Having enjoyed a carefree childhood, Jocasta has refused all offers for her hand in the hopes of one day finding a soul mate who shares her sense of the ridiculous. She is drawn to Richard, but their stations in life are far apart and despite prolonging her stay by devious means, the idyll cannot last. When, by chance, her brother Harry turns up at the Holly Tree Inn, Jocasta has no choice but to return home. She hopes to persuade her father of Richard’s qualities, but then she is summoned to receive the addresses of a fashionable stranger...
I have always been fascinated by words. From first learning to read, I have loved books. When I was about five, I wrote my ‘news’ inside the flowered squares of my bedroom wallpaper. I badgered my grandfather to read Peter Rabbit when he was staying with us after illness – and then promptly sat down and read it aloud to myself! I made up stories involving my dolls and imaginary friends; in my head, I would write sequels to books I had read and spend countless hours in a dream world! However, it wasn’t until I left school that I began writing them down. Those first efforts were dire and will never see the light of day, but one did, after many, many reworkings, make it as far as submission. It wasn’t accepted and life took me in another direction, but one day I may revisit that manuscript and try again.
I am very excited about two forthcoming projects involving other authors, one coming out next summer and one the following year, but I can’t say too much about them at the moment. My plans may change, but the next release will hopefully be a non-fiction work about – surprise, surprise – horses. I have a three-quarters finished novella I want to complete for next Christmas, and I want, at some stage, to launch my mother’s favourite novel, which is also a Regency romance. She discovered the snippet of information around which the story is moulded and it has been waiting in the wings until I could do it justice. Hopefully, I now can.
As a writer, I think the word ‘methodical’ best describes me. I’m not speedy and I have to find the word I want before I can continue; often, getting up and doing a small task (like putting the kettle on!) will trigger my thought processes, enabling me to continue. I like to write in the morning and I am very much a creature of habit, so I do have a routine, but that goes out of the window if the animals need something or I have to go to work. Sadly, I am not yet at a point where I can make a living from writing. I will often continue writing or doing something associated with writing late into the evening. The afternoons are reserved for dog walking!
Ideas can come from anywhere – a snippet of overheard conversation, a smell, a picture, a line of prose, a painting, an experience. Copenhagen’s Last Charge came from a small fact I discovered while researching the Battle of Waterloo for the anthology, Beaux, Ballrooms and Battles. A Sense of the Ridiculous was born following an incident I witnessed with a horse and I began wondering what might happen if that same incident occurred in the nineteenth century. Treasure Beyond Words grew out of a seedling idea of a male wallflower – a gentleman for whom the written word held untold terrors – and An Improper Marriage began life as a short story.
Nothing is ever wasted. Today’s ‘drivel’ could be tomorrow’s gem, so keep those warm-up paragraphs which seem to be going nowhere. Another day you may find a thread of gold among the fustian. So, when you are standing in that queue at the supermarket, be ready for the odd remark which might lead you to a murder most foul; when visiting the country park, open your senses and record the smells, plants and tastes of the seasons; when you’re drinking that well-earned coffee after a heavy morning seeking the perfect outfit, observe the other customers – they might all be stars in your next three books; and when you have occasion to visit the charity shop, collect old magazines, for therein may lie future characters, settings and plots.
I find certain charity shops a wonderful resource for research material, from the occasional ornament or picture to books on all aspects of life in the Georgian era. These I greedily squirrel away whenever my purse allows; I have been fascinated by the Regency since I read my first Georgette Heyer novel, The Talisman Ring, when I was about eleven. I have read and re-read most of her books, and I find the language of the time, in both prose and dialogue, comes quite naturally to me. It seems to suit my style of writing. That said, when I started writing Devil’s Hoof, I had no difficulty switching to the twenty-first century. I think if the story and voices in your head are strong enough, then changing genre shouldn’t be a problem.
Thank you so much Heather, for sharing your insights with us today.
Find Heather at the links below, but first, read the blurb for her new release:
Matthew Swift, Special Forces veteran of the Iraq wars and invalided out of the army following an act of heroism, is struggling to adjust to civilian life. Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he is a loose cannon ready to explode, beset by horrific flashbacks and images. If that were not enough, Matt has broken up with his girlfriend and his father is fighting a hostile takeover, in the process hiding a heart problem from his family.
Sparks fly when Matt meets alternative therapist Shani Stevens, but then they become stranded in Rhandor Forest by unprecedented storms and have no choice but to help each other.
Both have scars, yet slowly they learn to trust. Mutual sympathy and understanding soon grow into an abiding passion, but Matt has a secret he cannot reveal…
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Amazon US author page