Please note: at the end of the interview, there is information on her giveaway to win a copy of her ebook. Please post questions and/or comments for Heather and she'll answer. Anyone who comments is entered to win the contest.
Tell us about your newest release.
Westridge is about childhood sweethearts reuniting in a small town. Writing it helped me to cope with the homesickness I felt while I was away at college. I did everything I could to capture the feel of the American small town and the love I feel for my own tight-knit family. Here's the blurb:
Gabby Jones and Jason Dawson were born only months apart in the small, country town of Westridge. For the next eighteen years, they were inseparable, but after their high school graduation, Gabby got on a bus to the city, leaving Jason with a weak explanation and a broken heart. After five years of making it a point to avoid her old flame, Gabby comes home for a funeral and, thanks to meddling parents and circumstance, she and Jason are thrown together again.
But now Jason is an auto mechanic with an ex-wife and a daughter, and Gabby owns a successful flower shop in the city. Even if Gabby is able to admit she still loves Jason, and even if Jason is able to convince her to tell him the real reason she left, will they be able to get past the changes and broken pieces in time to start over?
Can you tell us a little about your favorite scene in the story?
Ooh...Tough question. I guess my favorite scene is one that takes place about half-way through the story in Gabby's father's shed. Jason's fixing a tractor and Gabby runs into him. There's a lot of emotional tension, Gabby finally begins to give into Jason, and there is a super hot make-out scene.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I've loved writing as long as I've loved reading, but I think I was eighteen when I realized it might be a possible career goal. I knew I couldn't make a living off of poetry (although I still enjoy writing it), but once I found romance, I knew I'd found a doorway into doing what I love for a living. Of course, I still have my day job, but I'm hoping to eventually be able to focus solely on writing.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your stories?
A lot of my inspiration comes from music. For Westridge, Taylor Swift's "Mary's Song" started it all. The song is about childhood sweethearts who grow up together, fall in love, and get married. I thought it was so romantic, and I missed my own small hometown while I was away at college, so I threw all of that emotion into the story.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a hard time writing in the mornings. I can't wake up early to write; I can only stay up impratically late to finish a scene.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I can finish a book! The first one I wrote took me about four years to finish. I was still in high school and my writing wasn't quite developed. I finished it while I was in college, but I needed to prove to myself that I could write a book in a practical amount of time. Westridge only took me about four months, and the one I just finished, which is much longer, took me about a year to complete. Even though I may never be able to pop out 3 books a year like some authors, I'm excited to be averaging one per year instead of one every four years!
What authors or friends influenced you in helping you become a writer?
Carly Phillips and Stephanie Meyer both helped. Carly Phillips was the first romance author I read, and Stephanie Meyer taught me that light, fun, romantic fluff can be incredibly popular. My mom always supported me and encouraged me; she's my best editor! And, of course, my fiance is absolutely my #1 fan. He brings my confidence up when it's lacking and brags about me until I start to see myself and accomplishments the way he does. I don't think I'd have a book coming out if it wasn't for his encouragement.
What does your family think about your career as a published author?
They're really proud. My Mom keeps her friends at work updated, and even though my Dad and brother ignore the fact that sex is involved, they're excited for me. My grandparents are always supportive and excited for me, too. I know I'm very lucky.
Besides writing, what other interests do you have?
I don't have time for a lot of other interests...lol Reading, wedding planning (with a lot of DIY), working...Of course I like going out with friends and I'm a big fan of Game of Thrones. And we'll be looking for our first house soon, so I've been stalking Remax.com!
Can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you writing wise?
I'm finishing the edits on two novels right now, so I'm hoping to get those out soon. One's a futuristic romance that's pretty different from anything else I've written so far; the other is a (mostly) fun story about a city girl trapped in Nowhere, VA. Keep an eye out!
How can readers connect with you online?
My blog address is http://heatherlin88.blogspot.com/
In addition to the ebook giveaway today, I'm also giving away a Country Chic gift set from Bath & Bodyworks. Stop by my blog and click on the "Contests" tab to find out how you can enter!
"What do you mean you can't pick me up?" Gabby Jones asked in disbelief, trying to balanceher purse, suitcase, ticket, and cell phone as she boarded the bus.
"I'll send someone to get you. I'm busy helping with the funeral arrangements," her mother replied.
"What about Dad?"
"He's busy, too. We'll send someone."
"Mom," she said unhappily. "I know who you're gonna send. You can't."
"Oh, you're gonna have to see him at the funeral, anyway. And just because you disowned all of your friends when you moved away doesn't mean I have to."
Gabby had left the small town of Westridge five years ago. In Westridge, the nearest mall was forty-five minutes away, and "got stuck behind a plow" was the most common excuse for tardiness. The kids hung out at Walmart or the diner during their downtime and talked about how they couldn't wait to get away from the stupid small town where everyone knew everyone else's business. They didn't want to be stuck in the same routine, seeing the same people their whole lives, and Gabby had felt the same way — trapped, bored, insignificant. At least, that's what she'd told Jason two days before getting on a bus to the city and not looking back.
Ever since, she'd made a point of avoiding her old friends whenever she returned to visit her parents. Of course, her mother always updated her on Jason whether Gabby wanted to hear it or not. Mrs Jones had complained about the girl Jason dated after Gabby, discounted their quick marriage, gushed over their new baby, and gloated when they got divorced just a year after her birth. It had hurt Gabby to hear the news, but there was no way she'd ever admit it to her mother. Gabby tolerated her mother's gossip and was grateful she'd managed to avoid her high school sweetheart in person, if not in conversation. But this visit would be different.
Her parents and Jason's had been best friends since high school, and none of them made a secret of wishing Gabby and Jason would get back together. Sending him to pick her up today was a perfect setup. For them. Gabby rolled her hazel eyes in annoyance, even though her mother couldn't see.
"I didn't disown anyone," she said. “I just went on to bigger and better things. People drift apart. It happens."
She found her seat and threw her bags onto the rack above it. Her neighbors didn't look particularly happy about the twenty-three year old talking away on her cell phone, but she ignored them.
"Bullshit," Mrs Jones admonished. Only her mother could make cussing sound like a gentle, motherly act. "You loved it here. You were perfectly happy until—"
"Mom!" Gabby interrupted, not wanting to hear what her mother would say next.
She'd become a master of denial over the years and couldn't handle anyone breaking through the fog of her self-induced memory loss. Her mother sighed. It was a heavy sound, and Gabby didn't like it. It made her seem old.
"You're right. It's fine," Gabby's voice softened. "I'll have to see him soon, anyway."
"It'll be okay, baby. I love you. I have to go now."
"Love you, too, Mom."
She snapped the phone shut and leaned her head back against the seat, closing her eyes to fend off a tension headache. But all she could see was an eighteen year old Jason: blue eyes full of disbelief, face pale, fists balled.
* * * *
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Jason demanded, slamming the door to his truck shut.
Gabby had to work hard to keep her chin raised and her lips from trembling.
"Just like that? And all I get is a note in my locker on the last day of school?"
He threw a crumpled piece of paper at her feet. Her parents had dropped her off at the bus stop, but they were long gone. If that goodbye had been painful, this one would be excruciating — which was exactly why she'd tried to avoid it.
"I told you in the note—"
"And now you can tell me to my face."
He was making a scene. Gabby was embarrassed, and the tears she'd tried desperately to keep at bay burned in her eyes.
"There isn't anything to do in this town. I just need to see what else is out there."
"This is bullshit, Gabby. A few months ago, we were talking about getting married."
Her voice rose as she lied desperately through her teeth, trying to keep control.
"Well, I changed my mind."
The bus pulled up, and Jason's anger turned to pleading.
"Don't, Gabby. If you need some time away from this place, I'll go with you."
"You belong here, Jason."
"I belong with you."
Then she turned and boarded the bus, ignoring the stares. She managed to hold the tears back until he was out of sight.
* * * *
The pain of the memory was scorching, surprising Gabby with its intensity. She opened her eyes. She had to get a hold of herself. She looked past the old man reading a magazine, her gaze falling on the houses outside. They were reaching the suburbs, but her destination lay far beyond that. Gabby groaned and firmly pushed the last image she had of her high school sweetheart out of her mind. The next few days were going to be hell.