When you are getting ready to start a new book, what’s the first thing you do?
I usually already have a plot idea in mind, but I need to get to know my characters. To do this I start perusing magazines and images on the web, looking for people and expressions and items that capture my attention. Maybe it’s a magical looking orb in a dying garden or the ruins of a 16th century castle. If it catches my eye, I cut it out or print it off. Then I start to arrange the pictures into a blank book, like a collage. As I’m working, the characters start “talking” to me about why these things are important and about their backgrounds. As I’m gluing I let the characters run amok in my head (maybe that’s the glue fumes – LOL!). I rarely finish the collage book because I get so excited about the story that I start writing.
I also create a playlist of music that represents the time period and the characters. It helps me write when my muse is dancing.
Have you had any fun fan moments since you became a writer?
I LOVE every fan moment! Nothing thrills me more than having a fan tell me she loves my stories. It’s the definite cherry on the top of the sundae.
I did have an 80-year-old grandmother e-mail me that she loved my books and wanted to know when the next one was coming out. She was so sweet. She totally made my week.
Do you have any hobbies or special interests you’d care to share?
I’m an ovarian cancer survivor (just two years from diagnosis) and I just finished fifteen months of chemo. To help me make something good out of something terrifying and evil, my husband and I started the SHOUT Against the Whisper campaign. The symptoms of OC are just mere whispers in a busy woman’s life, and we will shout about them until every woman knows (bloating, urinary symptoms, feeling full quickly, pelvic pain are the main ones). So this keeps me very busy : )
What was the inspiration for your book?
Scenes from both CAPTURED HEART and HIGHLAND HEART began playing through my mind while my husband and I visited Scotland a decade ago. The heather-draped moors, rocky outcroppings, glittery lochs, and soaring mountains enthralled me. It was easy to imagine Macbain and Munro warriors riding through the mist. The magic of the country’s history still lingers in the land. I could smell it on the breeze, hear it echoing in the boulders, and taste it in their bannocks. I’m thrilled to be returning to the Highlands this July, this time with kids in tow.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Join a writing support group or groups. I learned so much from my local RWA chapter and made lifelong friends within online writer communities. Other writers know the pressure and challenges of being an author when friends and family (although great cheerleaders) do not. The support, encouragement, and advice from my fellow authors were incredibly valuable.
Also – keep writing. When I got sick I couldn’t write fiction for 8 months. I was so full of terror over the thought of leaving behind my three young kids and husband that I could only focus on ways not to die. So I only read medical and survival non-fiction. But my husband knew that I was happier when I wrote so he encouraged me to blog about my cancer journey. I wrote almost every day. Not only did I continue to hone my writing skills, I now have amazing material for a future non-fiction cancer book.
Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I’m a cross between a pantzer and a plotter. I know basically where I want to go, but I usually end somewhere a bit different. My characters become real, developing their own personalities and leading me to different end points. If I try to force them on my original track, they usually rebel and some long lost evil twin shows up. So I’ve learned to let them lead the way (or so I let them think – shhhh!!).
Where does the magic happen? Where do you write?
I have a lap top so I can write just about anywhere. I love to write on my back screened porch when the weather is nice. The birds flit around and the breeze blows. It’s perfect.
I’ve also written at swim practices and soccer games as well as in car pool (with ear buds in). I also hide away at coffee shops and book stores to find some quiet writing time.
I do have a writing “cabinet” as opposed to an office. It is a piece of furniture that opens up into my desk. I write some there, but I’m better out in the open.
Aside from writing, what do you do in your free time?
I am a full time cook, maid, chauffeur, tutor, birthday party planner, and cheerleader for my 3 kids (ages 6, 12, and 14). I like to walk my dog and work out/do yoga now that I’m strong enough to get around again. I’ve signed up to do a 5K mud run/obstacle course called Rugged Maniac in April, which is a “I’ll prove to you, Cancer, that you can’t keep me down” sort of thing.
I’ve come to love crossword puzzles as it gets my brain warmed up with words to write. And I started bird watching while I was sick and it’s become a favorite past time.
I volunteer at the elementary school, knit chemo hats, plan spectacularly creative parties for my kids (unicorn/fairy tea party, anyone?), cook with organic foods, and in the five minutes I have at night before my eyes shut – I love to read. I try to work going to the bathroom and showering in there sometimes.
What’s in the works for you?
I’ve just completed writing the second book in the HIGHLAND HEARTS series – TANGLED HEARTS (tentatively scheduled for a July release). Another 16th century romance, it follows Ewan Brody as he travels down to Henry VIII’s English court and runs into the most complicated lass who has ever lived. It’s a cross between The Tudors and Pirates of the Caribbean with a snarky Samantha from Bewitched.
Thanks so much for having me on the blog! For more information about me or my books, check out my web site at www.HeatherMcCollum.com .
Fleeing with only her bow, horse, enormous pet wolf, and the cryptic clues hidden in her mother’s medicine journal, healer Meg Boswell gallops north toward freedom, running from the man who falsely accused her mother of witchcraft. Cursed with magical healing abilities, Meg knows that if she’s captured, she will die like her mother—atop a blazing pyre.
Winter winds rip across the Highlands, pressing Chief Caden Macbain forward in his desperate plan to save his clan. He’s not above using an innocent woman to bargain for peace if it keeps his clan from starving. But Meg isn’t who Caden thinks, and when she kills a man to save the clan, he must choose between duty and her life. For although he captured her to force peace, Meg’s strength and courage have captured Caden’s heart.
Title: Captured Heart (Highland Hearts, #1)
Author: Heather McCollum
Genre: Historical Fantasy Romance
Length: 400 pages
Release Date: September 2012
ePub ISBN: 978-1-62061-058-9
Print ISBN: 978-1-62061-057-2