Brittany’s Book Rambles

March 2, I was invited as a guest to Brittany’ Book Rambles. Brittany asked me a lot of really interesting questions. including my favorite scene from This Heart of Mine. So, I wanted to share this interview with you. Enjoy!

1.What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I write most every day.  I’m the type of writer who works best in my office and not at a coffee shop.  I call myself a pantser.  My agent argues with me, saying I always know what’s going to happen in the book.  And yes, I may know the end and a few plot points, but I never write an outline.  I just sit down and start writing.  I love discovering the story as I write.

2. What are the hardest and easiest types of scenes for you to write?

Sad scenes are hard to write.  I tend to cry.  I love writing the scenes with a lot of dialogue.  I love it when my characters are sparring with their words.

3. What is the first book that ever made you cry?

I’m dyslexic and it took me a while to learn to read.  I think I was in fourth grade when I finally completed my first chapter book.  It was Charlotte’s Web. It took me weeks to read it.  I cried when Charlotte died.  I was so mad.

4. Do you have a favorite scene or quote from This Heart of Mine? Do tell!

It’s the first kiss scene.  Leah has an artificial heart and it’s in a backpack with a tube connected to her.  No one has lived longer than four years with the artificial heart.  Since she’s been sick, for over a year, she hasn’t gone to school.  But she’s decided to try to graduate.  As a result, her teachers tutor her at home.  When one teacher can’t make it, she sends Matt, her prize student, instead.  He is an identical twin and Leah’s not sure which twin has come to tutor her.  At first she doesn’t want it, but then well…

He looks up at the clock. “I guess I should be going.”

I want to tell him he doesn’t have to rush off. How sad is it that this is the most fun and the most alive I’ve felt all year?

He stands up. I do the same, then slip on the backpack, always hiding the tube that goes into my side.

He moves down the hall. I follow. I’m staring at his hair, the way it tips up. Again hoping he’s Matt. I’m so into his hair, I don’t notice him swing around.

We run smack-dab into each other.

“Shit.” He grabs me by my shoulders and pulls me against him. “Are you okay?”

His hands are on my upper arms. My breasts are against his chest.

Then bam! I feel something I haven’t felt in a long time. Excitement. My very own I’m-a-girl-and-you’re-a-boy excitement. Not the borrowed thrill I get from reading romances.

I can smell him. Like men’s soap, or deodorant; a little spicy, a lot masculine. The desire to lean in and bury my nose in his shoulder is so strong I have to clinch my hands.

“I’m fine,” I say. Don’t pull away. Don’t pull away. Please don’t pull away.

He doesn’t pull away. He gazes down at me. This close I can see he has gold and green specks in his brown eyes. A voice inside of me says I should step back, but you couldn’t pay me to move. I’m dying. Is it wrong of me to want this?

“I . . . I forgot my books.” The words fall from his lips in an uncertain tone. The pads of his thumbs rubs the insides of my arm. Just the tiniest, softest friction that feels so damn good.

I run my tongue over my bottom lip. “Oh, I . . . I thought you were going to kiss me.” I hear my own words and wonder where I got the balls to say that.

His eyes widen. Not in an oh-crap way, but in a surprised kind of way. “Do you want me to kiss you?”

I grin. “If you’re Matt, I’ve wanted you to kiss me since seventh grade.”

His gaze lowers to my mouth and lingers. “Is your heart strong enough?”

I burst out laughing. “Are you that good of a kisser?”

“Maybe.” A smile crinkles the corners of his eyes. He leans down. His lips are against mine, soft and sweet. I slip into sensory overload. I lean in and open my mouth and ease my tongue between his lips. Yeah, it’s bold, but it’s not like I’ll live long enough to regret it.

His tongue brushes against mine. One hand moves to my waist, the other slides back behind my neck. He gently angles my face to deepen the kiss. I feel it, every contact that is his skin against mine. I feel awesome. So freaking alive.

I get even ballsier and reach up and run my fingers through his hair. It’s even softer than I thought it’d be.

When he pulls back, we’re breathing hard, and we stare at each other. The dazed look in his eyes tells me that this wasn’t a pity kiss. We start inching closer. His lips are almost on mine again when the sound of the front door opening shatters the moment.

5. How much of your real life experiences do you incorporate into your writing? For example, do you base characters on real people?

I always pull from real life.  For example in my Shadow Falls books, every time I killed a villain, it was always my ex.  LOL.  Truthfully, there has been no other book of mine that I’ve put more personal experience into than in This Heart of Mine.  The book is about an organ transplant recipient, and my husband had a kidney transplant four years ago.  So much of the hurt, the facing death, and then having a life saved because of a transplant, all came from my husband’s experience.  Even the mystical thread that goes through the book when Leah starts having dreams that feel like they are from the donor came from his experience.

6. Which authors and books have influenced you the most?

I love romance.  I love stories that spark that feeling of falling in love all over again, but I also love a little mystery.  When I first started writing, I read Susan E. Phillips.  Then I started really enjoying stories with a touch of mystery or suspense.

7.  What is one material possession you can’t live without?

I hate to admit it, but it’s my phone.  I’m not on it at all times, but if I accidentally leave it at the house, I panic.

8. What fictional character (that is not your own) do you identify with most, and why? Could be from a book, TV show, movie, etc.

There are two that I sort of identify with.  Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt in Ghost Whisperer), who has the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Yes, I’m always sensing someone is trying to communicate with me.  That’s why most of my work has some sixth sense in them.  And then I really loved Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars.  Like her, I’m always looking at life trying to find a mystery to solve.

9. What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m actually working on two new young adult books right now.  One is the second book in my The Mortician’s Daughter series, Two Feet Under and one I have tentatively titled In Another Life.  It’s a story about a girl who discovers an age progression photo that looks just like her. The girl was supposedly kidnapped as a toddler.  What if everything you thought you knew about your family was a lie? It has sold to Wednesday Books, but we don’t have pub. date on it yet.

Have you read This Heart of Mine? Who is your favorite character?

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine, order it today at  AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks.

 

 

Inspiration, Writing and Childhood Memories

In February, Jean the Book Nerd was kind enough to feature This Heart of Mine on her blog. She also asked me several interesting question in her interview, and I thought I’d share it with you.

  1. What were your inspirations for the character development?

The plot of This Heart of Mine came from the thought of writing a book about a girl getting a transplant.  The story was born from personal experience.  My husband had recently had a transplant.  So I took a lot of the difficulties, the pain, and the emotion that my husband went through and created a girl with enough gumption to deal with all that it entailed. Once I got into her head and figured out her likes and dislikes, her quirks, what made her laugh, what made her cry, she just blossomed.

  1. Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that writing was not just a hobby.

Good question.  The first book I wrote, I wrote with nothing but gumption.  I really didn’t know how to write a book. I’m dyslexic and lacked the educational background so many authors had. I was someone who never really excelled at anything, and who never really had a passion. I wasn’t good in sports, wasn’t good in school, and had no musical talent. I hadn’t even read a lot because it was so hard. But since I was ten years old, what I had done in lieu of reading was create stories in my head.

When I started writing, I found my passion. I can’t say I was great at it, but I was pretty good.  My passion gave me the willpower to start learning and growing.  I forced myself to start reading.  Studying books.  And in 1988, I entered my very first contest.  It was the Golden Heart contest, a huge contest for romance.  When I finaled, I was validated.  I knew this was what I was meant to do.  From then on, I wrote with purpose. I wrote believing that eventually, I would make it a career.

  1. What was your unforgettable moment while writing This Heat of Mine?

This Heart of Mine is my 38th published book.  I had a set writing schedule, sort of regular hours, but when I started writing this book, it grabbed me by my throat and wouldn’t let me go.  One night, only a few days into writing this book, I went to check my email before bed.  I read the last paragraph I’d written that day and thought of good line.  Then, I couldn’t stop writing.  And I couldn’t stop crying because the scene was so close to what my husband and I had endured.  I just fell into the story.  I think I wrote like thirty five pages that night. I suddenly heard my husband clear his throat.  He said, “I’m going to assume you are writing, and the reason you are sobbing is because it’s a sad scene.  But it’s four in the morning, and I just wanted to make sure you aren’t having an online affair.”  He was joking, and we still laugh about it.

  1. What part of Leah did you enjoy writing the most?

I loved watching her learn to live again and fall in love for the very first time. I loved watching her realize she had an opinion and she should let it be known.  I’ve written a lot of love stories, but Leah’s and Matt’s story left me breathless at times.  They both helped each other survive something so difficult.  I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes my characters teach me something or reinforce something.  Leah and this story reinforced the importance of how precious time is.  And how we should cherish every moment we have with those we love.

  1. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Matt?

That the human spirit is amazingly strong and love is thing that can give us strength.  Matt lost his father and shortly after that, he lost his identical twin brother.  At times, all he could feel was grief.  But through love, love of his mother, love of Leah, he overcame the darkness of grief, and began to embrace hope and joy.

  1. What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon?

It’s a tossup.  I love to read, curl up somewhere really comfortable and lose myself in a story.  I also love sitting outside on the porch—if weather permits— sipping a glass of wine and chatting with friends.

  1. What is your happiest childhood memory?

I loved going to my grandmother’s house.  She was the kind of grandmother who made chores fun.  We would go pick strawberries out the garden, or we’d go for a walk in the woods.  Or we’d make fudge.  She always made me feel special.  And I didn’t get that a lot being the middle child between two brothers who excelled at everything.

  1. If you wrote a journal entry today, what would it say?

 Deep breath.  Deep breath.  Too many books to read, and write, and not enough time.  Just stay balanced.  You can do it.  You can.

Right now I’m contracted for five books, so I stay busy.  It’s good thing I love doing this!


I hope you’ve read This Heart of Mine by now. So tell me what did you like most about Leah? How about Matt?

If you haven’t read This Heart of Mine yet, what are you waiting for? Maybe you want to read an excerpt first? Well, you can HERE. Order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks.

 

First Love

Do you remember your first love? I do. And psychologists say, that most of us do. So why are first loves so unforgettable? Why does our memory of our first love stay with us? Well, according to Psychology Today, “Life changing is how ‘in-love’ feels in adolescence because it is a far more moving and compelling relationship than the young people have known before. The experience is all consuming — so each is always on the other’s mind…They are highly sensitized to each other — so both are alert to subtle interpersonal signals and are easily hurt by small slights from each other. The intimacy is deeper than with anyone else..”

In This Heart of Mine, Leah has had a crush on Matt for years. When they join forces to discover what really happened to his brother, Eric, an attraction between them grows. But even when Matt kisses her and they become a couple, Leah is still filled with doubts. She wonders if Matt only likes her because she has his brother’s heart. Or maybe because he thinks she can help him solve the mystery of Eric’s death. She is constantly reading things into Matt’s actions and wondering where their love will lead. Leah isn’t alone in her feelings.

Falling in love for the first time is a pretty exciting time, but it’s also common to have lots of insecurities about the relationship. I can remember wondering if my first boyfriend was going to dump me because of another girl or something I did or didn’t do. And I still remember him—just maybe not in a good way.  But many people carry a torch for their first love for years, maybe forever. There are even stories of people reuniting with their first loves many years later, but that’s not very common. For most of us our first love is the one that awakened our emotions and showed us how much we can feel. So no matter how the relationship ended, the intensity of the relationship lingers.

Do you remember your first love? Do you still think about him/her?

Read more about Leah and Matt as they put themselves in danger while trying to discover the truth—and fall in love along the way—in This Heart of Mine. You can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks. 

THIS HEART OF MINE Reviews Are In!

What an exciting week it’s been! On Feb 28th, This Heart of Mine was released. Since then, I’ve been around Texas for book signings in Houston, Yokum and Dallas. I’ve got more events scheduled, and you can find out if I’m coming to your area on my Events page.

So now that This Heart of Mine is released, the reviews are out, and I just thought I’d share some of them with you. But remember, if you’ve read This Heart of Mine, please be so kind as to leave a review on Goodreads. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

“Hunter’s portrayals of the characters and their emotions, and of Leah’s life that walks so close to death, are genuine and full of the hard truths of living with chronic illness…Writing from personal experience, Hunter delivers a read that’s both absorbing and honest.” –Kirkus reviews

“Teens will love the emotional twists and turns…the mystery of the dead communicating with the living through dreams and memories will grip readers and leave them guessing until the very end. With so many unanswered questions and tons of suspense, teens will be on the edge of their seats, eager to know the mystery held within Leah’s heart.”—School Library Journal

This Heart of Mine is a story of loss, grief, friendship and love. I loved this journey.”—The Monitor (McAllen, TX)

”I so didn’t know what I was getting into with this title. But man was it amazing.”—Crossroad Reviews

This Heart of Mine is a moving young-adult novel about life, death, and grief.”–Popsugar

This Heart of Mine is a genuine portrayal of life of a teenage girl living with chronic illness with a dose of mystery.”—Black Plume

“I was addicted from page one!”—New York Times bestselling author P.C. Cast

“Heartbreaking and heroic. Hunter’s characters will leave you breathless and flipping the pages for more.”—New York Times bestselling author Kristin Cast

“Overall, it was a really great read that makes me excited to see what C.C. Hunter will write next!”—Sue’s Reading Corner

So, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of This Heart of Mine. You can order your copy today at AmazonBarnes &NoblePowell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks.