Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m so excited to have my friend Heather Day Gilbert as my guest. Heather and I have crossed paths in the publishing world for several years now. I love that she writes about Vikings – because they’re a part of my heritage, too. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of Heather’s latest release!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a mom of four, and three of them are in college this year! Talk about an empty nest. But we have a five-year old who will be home for many years to come! 😉 I’ve been an author for over ten years, and I’ve had five agents (six, if you count that I had two at once). So I’ve been in the writer world for a while now. I have eleven books out—five mysteries, two romantic suspense, three Viking historicals, and a nonfiction book on independent publishing.
Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.
Tell us about your current release. My latest release (October 1) was Book 2 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter cozy mystery series, Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. This series features an amateur sleuth who pet-sits exotic pets and reviews video games for a living. This book is set at a fictional wolf preserve in Greenwich, Connecticut, as well as at Belinda’s parents’ home in Upstate New York. This cozy mystery series has been so much fun to write and it just makes me happy. 🙂 I feel I’ve kind of found my writer “niche” with cozy mysteries, because I love developing characters while having a mystery to solve (I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan).
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Now that I’m writing for a mainstream publisher, I’ve had to think through how I approach my books (which hitherto have been Christian fiction). It really hasn’t been a far stretch for me to move into the mainstream world, because my books are still clean reads, with no cursing/sex or graphic stuff, and I’ve never quite “fit” into the Christian fiction world, where readers expect a heavier-handed Christian message. I love classics, and that’s kind of what I’m shooting for with all my books—an exploration of good and evil (with mysteries, in particular), with a strong moral tone. For instance, in my Exotic Pet-Sitter mysteries, the single main character doesn’t sleep around or live with a guy. I felt that was important to show that YES, some single women DO live that way. LOL! And she has a supportive family, which is often lacking with those angst-ridden amateur sleuths. Belinda is NOT an angst-ridden character! 🙂
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Christian fiction has come a long way as far as portraying realistic situations, but I’d love to see even MORE fiction focused on married couples, issues with teens, drugs, infidelity, divorce, etc. approached in a biblical way. Foster care is another huge topic that’s hardly touched in Christian fiction.
Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? It’s a mixture of both. For my Viking novels, I wanted to tell the stories of these real Viking women who sailed to North America, largely because that’s part of my heritage. For my mysteries, I definitely write with a reader in mind, but I also write something that needs to come together neatly with a murderer who might surprise even me. Speaking of which…
I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. Do you ever change your mind later on in the book, and go in a different direction? I have submitted an extended synopsis (the entire plotline of the book) to my publisher and then I’ve completely changed whodunit as I wrote the book. I like to be surprised by the villain and in that particular case, the villain was too obvious, so I switched it. That meant I had to go in and rearrange clues/hints, but in the end, it all fell together nicely (Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass). I love surprising myself as I write…and really, it’s not me. The CHARACTERS surprise me.
What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? I’m sure many moms have said they’ll never homeschool, then they wind up doing it. I thought I couldn’t, but then I read Lisa Whelchel’s So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling book, and it really shifted my perspective of what homeschooling methods could look like. I realized yes, I could do this, and I did wind up homeschooling my three oldest for years, one of them all the way from kindergarten through her senior year. But it’s not for everyone. It’s important to pray each year about the best choice for each child, I believe. Same thing with colleges.
Here is where you can find Heather online:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert
E-Mail: heatherdaygilbert (at) gmail (dot) com
Heather is giving away a copy of Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheeps Clothing to a reader! See below how to enter to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway