Heather McCollum is an award winning, historical paranormal romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology from the University of Maine, much to her English professor’s dismay. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and the Ruby Slipper Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart Finalists.
The ancient magic and lush beauty of Great Britain entranced Ms. McCollum’s heart and imagination when she visited there years ago. The country’s history and landscape have been a backdrop for her writing ever since. She currently resides with her very own Highland hero and three spirited children in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.
Places to find Heather:
First off, can you tell us a bit about you?
Thanks so much for having me on the blog today! It’s so wonderful to have someone interested in me. When you’re a mom of three kids (ages 14, 11, and 6), they only want to talk about themselves (LOL!). This is a refreshing change.
Well, I’m a mom of three kids and one crazy rescued golden retriever. I’m extremely lucky to have found my own Highland hero, my husband, Braden. When I’m not writing, making meals for perpetually hungry kids, and walking my dog so she’s less crazy, I’m usually on my “soap box” educating women about ovarian cancer.
Six months ago I finished 15 months of chemo to kill that silent, sneaky, deadly beast. I’m using whatever talents I have to spread the warning about the whispered symptoms of ovarian cancer. My full length, CAPTURED HEART, has them listed in the back: bloating, pelvic pain, urinary issues, and feeling full quickly are the main symptoms.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes, but instead of majoring in English in college I went the Biology route because I didn’t want people to tell me how to write (shh! Don’t tell my editor). I graduated and went onto graduate school where I was working toward a Ph.D. in Cellular Immunology for a year and a half. Somewhere along the way I realized I’d rather spend my days with people rather than melanoma cells and melanocytes. So I went to work at a Clinical Development company where I managed clinical trials for up and coming drugs.
During those years I’d come home after a long day and relax by finding out what my characters were up to, those pesky friends who stirred around in my head waiting to come out on paper. So I wrote and wrote and started attending my local RWA meetings. It was then that I decided I should do what I always should have done. Write stories.
What kind of writer are you? Panster or 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 do your ideas come from?
Just about everywhere : ) I’ve found ideas by paging through magazine and seeing a bizarre ad for refrigerators or perfume or vacations, and WAHLA! I have an idea! I also collect interesting items from all over, handmade items that look like they could be magical in some way. At a street fair I saw a homemade marble with flecks of silver and color throughout it. I held its weight in my palm and a whole YA paranormal series filled my head. I, of course, had to buy it after that!
A la Twitter style, can you describe your book (or series) in 140 characters or less.
Rugged Highlanders in low slung kilts & feisty lasses full of spirit - wrapped up in adventure, romance, & white magic! Oh my!
What are some of your favorite kinds of stories to read?
I truly love romance. There are so many unhappy endings in the world that I often need to take a break from the news and fill my mind with happy endings, and that’s guaranteed in romance. Plus, I feel that if you read (and write) enough happy endings, you’re bound to find one yourself.
Within romance, I particularly love: YA, paranormal, fantasy, steampunk, and historical (of course).
Do you have a favorite book and if so what is it?
I have so many! This is a hard question to answer. I do LOVE Karen Marie Moning’s work. Her original Highlander series, with its plethora of rugged Highlanders and Fae magic, has inspired a lot of my work. I also love her dark urban fantasy FEVER series. Jericho Barrons – YUM!
What are the scenes that are the hardest for you to write?
Sex scenes are challenging for me. I really have to be in the characters’ heads to make the scene more than just “take tab A and insert it into tab B” which is NOT at all what good sex is about. Even writing about two screwed up characters that don’t have emotional attachment, the scene is still really about what’s going on in their heads – insecurities, anger, baggage from past experiences.
So to write a great love scene, you really have to know your characters. And sometimes they hide parts of themselves from me. I know that sounds weird since I’ve created them, but I’m surprised all the time by what emotional junk they had that I didn’t discover until halfway through writing the book.
If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would you choose and why?
- Karen Marie Moning because I LOVE her writing style and she seems like a very unique person with great taste in music and men.
- Stephanie Bond because she’s a hoot! She writes contemporary romance with some type of mystery involved, and her voice is so fun to read. She came to talk at one of my chapter meetings and she was just as easy going and lovely in person.
- Jane Austen even though she’d be aghast at what I would wear and eat and talk about : ) But I have such respect for her, writing secretly at a time when women were discouraged from business. I love her timeless lessons and strong heroines. Of course I’d have to bring my mother along as she’s the biggest Austen fan I’ve ever met. And if Mr. Darcy showed up – oh my - swoon!
Last question, are you working on anything right now?
Right now I am completing the second book in the HIGHLAND HEARTS series. It follows Ewan Brody as he travels down to Henry VIII’s English court and runs into the most complicated lass that’s ever lived.
My fourth book of THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES series is in edits right now and I have a YA paranormal romance coming out in 2014. I’m also journaling about my recovery from cancer over this year in hopes to make that into a survival story.
Thanks again for having me on the blog today! It’s been lots of fun answering questions, but now I have a question of my own. Don’t worry there are no wrong answers.
I tend to write about big, hulking, Highlander type men as they make my heart race and my insides melt. What types of heroes do you like to read about? Sophisticated and witty, rough and awkward when talking to the heroine, intellectual, rich, a past he must get over, honorable or something else altogether? And what are your favorite names for heroes and heroines? I have such a hard time with names. Thanks so very much!
Alec Munro, chieftain of the Munros, has captured the Englishman who swindled his father. Set on retribution, he’s caught off-guard by the thief’s beautiful daughter, a lass whose beauty and spirit leave him questioning the value of revenge.
Rachel Brindle has a secret: she can heal people with her magic. While journeying with her father and sister into the Highlands, she becomes a prize sought between two warring clans. She must use her cunning and her healing magic to prevent the same slaughter that started the blood feud a century ago. But when her secret is exposed, will it condemn her in the eyes of the barbarian who has capture not only her family, but also her heart?
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- Leave a comment answering Heather's question: What types of heroes do you like to read about? Sophisticated and witty, rough and awkward when talking to the heroine, intellectual, rich, a past he must get over, honorable or something else altogether? And what are your favorite names for heroes and heroines?
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