Heather Graham: on genre, travel and sticking with it

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We are very excited to introduce RWA’s Fremantle 2020 conference attendees to author Heather Graham, who will be flying over from the US to present a keynote address and a workshop entitled What We Do with Words at conference.

Heather answers Michelle Diener’s questions on the genres she writes and more.

Author Heather Graham

You write in such a wide range of genres, from historical romance to romantic suspense to paranormal thrillers. What excites you about the genres you do write in and is there a common thread that runs through them all?

I grew up reading everything! Loved Poe, all the gothics my mom had, nonfiction about cool things all over the world—even my dad’s Navy books! We have a tendency to say, “Write what you know.” I almost prefer the suggestion to, “Write what you love!” I think our passion for our work is most important. When we’re loving what we’re doing—whatever it may be—I think that love excites the reader as well.

Do you think it is important for an author to be active online (social media, blogging)?

Oh, that’s a tough one! It depends on the person. I have two Facebook pages, one for book info, and one where you’ll get pictures of my family—especially the little ones—kittens, dogs, people, and places. I’m sure it’s great for some people, but I don’t Tweet. I’ve heard that it’s not only not necessary but not a good thing at all to do nothing but post about books—that’s kind of like being clobbered on the head.

If you’ve something interesting to say, yes, blog!

What do you love most about being a writer?

LOL. Tax deductions on books and conferences and traveling. I love traveling! I belong to RWA, Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers, and HWA. All are special and unique, and I try to hit a con having to do with each group every year. Writers tend to be wonderful and interesting people, excited to be together, generous, and happy to talk about all aspects of publishing.

What is the best thing you have done for your writing?

Oh! Hm. That’s a hard one. LOL. Maybe procreate! My kids are grown, and they and their friends have intriguing jobs—so my family has provided me with an endless array of intriguing characters, including a detective, a United States Marshal, and a “fabricator,” a young lady who works for Legacy Studios. She creates fantastic creatures and more for the movies. One of her jobs has been to dress Robert Downey, Jr., as Ironman!

The Summoning by Heather Graham

What is your writing process, and how long does it take you to write a book? Do some genres take longer than others?

No book has ever taken the same amount of time. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” I am disciplined, and thanks to starting with a household of little ones, I can work anywhere at any time, and I do. I try to write every day, if only a paragraph or two, but it keeps your characters and the situation in line within your own mind. There is no time demand—people have crazy lives. So, if you have hours every day, that’s great. If you don’t—jobs and family can put a damper on that—you just have to be disciplined about writing and make sure that you do dedicate however many hours you have a week to your writing.

And stick to it!

Of course, if someone is sick, if life intrudes, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back to it as soon as you can!

What do you love about writing conferences? I read that you are a founder of the Slush Pile Players, which you often present at conferences. Can you tell us about that?

I have always loved people. Cons introduce us to so many people, and, as I said earlier, writers tend to be the nicest people.

I was a theatre major in college and worked dinner theatre and commercials for several years once I was out. To this day—love it!

Slushpile Players put on shows at cons and benefits. The Slushpile band is great fun—all writers who were players, too, at some point in their lives.

What do you do in your ‘down time’? Are you going to able to have some down time on your visit to Australia?

At home, I love diving and still love ballroom dancing. And books. And movies! While traveling, I love to see things, go on history and ghost tours—and do as much as humanly possibly! I’m hoping to see more of Australia!

Do you have any favourite authors, books, films?

Book? A Tale of Two Cities! But there are so many more books I love! Many current authors, and many classics. Anything by Poe and Dickens. Another book I love is Killer Angels. It’s about the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War—but it’s more about people than war. For non-fiction, one I truly enjoy is Devil in the White City—about American serial killer H.H. Holmes.

Thank you so much for your time, Heather. We look forward to meeting you in Fremantle next year!

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