Hi Heather and welcome to the Author Spotlight! Congratulations on your new release ‘Breakaway Creek’. Can you give us a sneak peek at the book, maybe something from your favourite scene?
Hello everyone and thanks for having me here!
This is a scene from the historical part of Breakaway Creek, featuring Emma and Alex:
When he finally appeared, walking down the path, her pulse leapt. She tried to pretend unconcern as she sat on the grassy bank, her knees drawn up and her feet tucked under her skirt, but her fingers restlessly twisted a stalk of grass and wouldn’t be still. As he came closer and she noticed his bleak face, trepidation accelerated her heart rate. What had happened to the gentle lover from yesterday? She hadn’t seen him look so troubled before.
‘Emma.’ He took off his hat to reveal tousled dark hair and sank down beside her. ‘I’m glad you came. I need to talk to you.’
‘This sounds ominous.’ She tried to keep her tone light, even though her heart thudded against her ribs. Stealing a quick glance at his face, she noted a fine sheen of sweat on his brown skin. Was it the heat, or was he as uneasy as she? She wound the grass stalk about her finger, then dropped it quickly when she saw it stained red with her blood. Sucking the stinging cut, she fumbled in her sleeve for a handkerchief and looked up to find him watching her, his dark eyes intent on her face. ‘What must you talk to me about?’
‘Breakaway Creek’ is set in both the 19th and 21st centuries, what sort of writing problems did this pose for you?
Writing historical settings is more a challenge in some ways. My previous books are historical, though, so my research has been ongoing and accumulative. A Hidden Legacy was also set in the 1890s, so I was already familiar with the era; and parts of A Hidden Legacy were also set in the same town. Over the years I’ve acquired a collection of historical reference titles. One of my favourites – The Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang – is now out of print.
Writing contemporary stories can involve almost as much research, I’ve discovered. And the thing is, if you get it wrong, there’s more chance of someone spotting the error!
Which was your favourite century to write about?
There’s something about historical settings which excites me and appeals to my imagination, so I’d have to say the 19th century. But I also enjoyed the change and the challenge of creating modern-day characters and modern dilemmas.
Plotter or panster? Or a bit of both?
I’m by nature a pantser, but I did do a certain amount of plotting for this story. I often find the best scenes or ideas are the ones which pop up during the process, instead of being carefully planned.
What is your favorite part of a book to write?
It would have to be the scenes with the most emotional impact. I tend to lose myself in them and they’ll pour out without much effort. I loved writing a particular scene where Alex, the 19th century hero, discovers he’s not who he thought he was.
Where do you get your inspiration for your characters and plots?
Sometimes when I’m reading a novel, a detail or scene will fire my imagination and lead to a plot of my own. When I was a teenager I read a book from my mother’s bookcase about a young woman who visited a cattle station. She fell in love with one of the stockmen, only to later discover he was of mixed heritage. This story was set many years ago, probably in the 1950s, when the racial divide was very pronounced. It fascinated me and always stayed with me. Many years later it became the premise behind Breakaway Creek.
Other inspiration can come from everyday life. Another thread from the modern-day story in Breakaway Creek was partly inspired by marriage break-ups I had witnessed among family and close friends, along with subsequent custody battles of the children involved.
Since everybody needs a break, even when doing something they love, how do you like to spend your time away from writing?
I’m a keen reader – sometimes it’s much easier to read someone else’s writing than produce my own. Working at a library doesn’t help as I’m always seeing books I want to read. I also love doing crossword puzzles and sudokas. Occasionally I get an urge to sew and do a bit of patchwork.
Can you take us through a normal day for you?
My days are different depending on farm work, voluntary activities and my part-time job at the local library. Usually once a week I make the 140 km round trip to Emerald to do my grocery shopping, as Capella doesn’t have a grocery store any more. I don’t have a fixed schedule for writing but I admire people who do!
What is the biggest misconception about being an author?
Probably that once you’ve been published – broken through the barrier, so to speak – your future as a writer is assured. It is a very demanding business, probably even more so these days when authors are expected to self-promote through social media, websites etc.
You find yourself stranded on a desert island, what things could you not survive without?
A book to read and a crossword puzzle, apart from the obvious – water, shade and plenty of food. Oh, and my Chapstick. I’m one of those people – I even saw a programme about this – who is addicted to using lip salve. A sad addiction but at least I’m not drinking myself to death or gambling all my money away!
Heather is giving away ebook copy of either The Cornstalk or A Hidden Legacy – the winner can choose! All you have to do to be in the running to win is leave a comment for Heather.
This competition is open world-wide and will be drawn on June 5, 2013.
If you’d like to learn more about Heather, or contact her, you can find her on: