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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Powell’s, Indiebound, Books-A-Million, and iBooks.