Thursday, April 23, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Heatherly Bell and The Flaming Red Head

The Write Way Café welcomes author Heatherly Bell, who shares how story ideas fall like boxes into her lap and that her alter ego is a flaming red head who puts away bad guys.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?

I’ve always wanted to write since my tenth grade high school English teacher gave me an A+ for my short story, but the first time I thought about writing a book was when I fell in love with Jodi Picoult’s A Second Glance. At the same time, I was overwhelmed with the thought of writing something so large. I had several false starts throughout many years. I had not found my own writing “voice” and tried too hard to be a “Jodi wanna-be”. In the end, my voice turned out to be radically different from that of one of my favorite authors.

Where did the idea for your story come from? 
I wish I knew – I think it came from that place in heaven that drops down all story ideas into lucky author’s open minds. I knew that I would write about Wallace and Gen, dovetailing from Somebody Like You (the end of the book introduces them). Little blocks of the story dropped down from heaven, until I had my inciting event. What if you loved someone so much but didn’t think you had a chance in hell with him? Would you marry someone who looked like him? Why wouldn’t that work? Let’s just begin with the fact that looks aren’t everything. And we go from there … no it doesn’t work, because when you love someone they are irreplaceable.

Why did you pick the setting you did?
First of all, I live in California and we are known for our wines. I’ve spent a lot of time among these vineyards, some of them in my own backyard. Also, there’s something romantic about a vineyard setting – first of all there is the obvious physical beauty of the land and the ripe luscious vines. But if you go beyond that to the metaphors, grapes need tending and love. If you leave a vineyard unattended it’s going to shrivel up and die.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret?
This never happens to me, but Until There Was You flew off my fingers in a month. I then took another month for revisions, edits, and the like. I’m not sure why this happened, but I was ecstatic that it did. Most of the time, I do encounter blocks. I handle them by powering through and forcing myself not to look back until I hit “the end.”

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about life in the Napa Valley and settling for less than you want?
Although I do not live in the Napa Valley, I do live in a smaller part of “wine country”. There are several vineyards in my own backyard and the climate is quite similar to Napa, which is about an hour north of us. I had already done research on vineyards for the previous two books in the series, but for this one I was able to consult Ben Scorcur, who leads the crew at a beautiful winery in my little hometown near the garlic capital of the world. For one scene in which Wallace goes to visit his brother Billy, I wanted to know what the crew would be doing to the vines in January. Ben was so helpful, and he actually offered for me to come down and watch them work.

The theme of settling for less than you want can be a painful one, forcing you to look at your own life and the choices you’ve made. Fortunately, everything works out well for my heroine otherwise I wouldn’t write books.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
My favorite writing space is the local coffee shop – it works for me because I don’t have a smart phone to distract me. I will bring along my Alphasmart, which cuts me off from the distractions of email and Facebook (I’m addicted, I admit it.) I often stare into space searching for the next few words, because there is nothing else to do. This is where the best ideas come from, as I engage my subconscious which I believe is a much better writer than I am.

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on Scott’s story. He’s the youngest Turlock brother, a former soldier and current firefighter. After that I’ll be done with brothers – I should have made up a bigger family, huh? Actually, there are so many secondary characters in this series begging for their own story. I will be telling Joe’s (the pilot, Gen’s older brother) story in a novella that is part of a boxed set out this summer.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why?
Someday I’d love to try my hand at romantic suspense, because I admire authors who do it and do it so well like Barbara Freethy, one of my favorites. But I fear that will require me to become a plotter. I’m working on it. Maybe one day …

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
My bio says this, but I’d love to be a homicide detective and put away the bad guys. I love watching Dateline every Friday night (especially Keith) and often I’ve already figured out “whodunit” before the big reveal. If I were a detective, of course I’d mostly hang out with the young good-looking cops and detectives. We’d trade thinly veiled sexual innuendos as we worked side by side solving the gruesome murder. I’d also be hot, with long flaming red hair and legs that went on for days. Ooops, you said dream, not fantasy …

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
If you haven’t guessed by now, it’s plotting. My books are character centered, so I fear that many times not much actually “happens” other than the inciting event and the journey the two protagonists take towards each other. I work hard at trying to find interesting and funny situations that will also advance the plot. It’s the toughest part of writing for me. I’ve tried using story boards and the like, but nothing works for me like just sitting down, “butt in chair, hands on keyboard.”

How far would you go to get your fantasy man? 

Would you marry someone who looked just like him?

Genevieve Hannigan has loved her big brother’s best friend, Wallace Turlock, for as long as she can remember. But when he never noticed her, she settled for Wallace 2.0.

With her disastrous two month marriage behind her, Gen knows that nothing but the original Wallace will do.

But when Genevieve’s ex-husband is back in town with hopes to reconcile, things are about to get complicated … 

About Heatherly:   
     When early onset stage fright dashed dreams of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status, Heatherly tackled her first book in 2010, and now the people and voices that occupy her head refuse to leave. She no longer sings unless you count randomly bursting into song to annoy her children (and the dogs).
     If she were not an author, Heatherly maintains she would be a detective and a criminal's worst nightmare. She watches Dateline every Friday night and takes notes.
     Her best selling Starlight Hill series has made the Amazon top 100 and top 50 paid lists in romantic comedy (All of Me) and sports romance (Somebody Like You).
     She lives in northern California with her family, including two beagles, one who can say 'hello' and the other who can feel a pea through several pillows. 

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Heatherly also has a brand new author page that needs some attention! She hopes you'll stop by!


HiDee said...

Great interview. Thanks for being with us today, Heatherly!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for having me here today!