I first met my blog guest at a writing class run by Sue Johnson in Pershore. I can remember sitting opposite to Heather King feeling inadequate as she produced yet another brilliant descriptive piece in response to one of Sue‘s writing exercises.
One day I’ll get a photograph of Heather smiling at the camera!
A confessed romantic and bookworm, Heather King has always made up stories. Discovering Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels began a lifelong love of the era, although she enjoys well-written books from other times too. Heather’s stories are traditional romps – light-hearted and witty, with bags of emotion. You walk with her characters through the world they inhabit. She also writes Paranormal Shape Shifter romance.
Visiting her Dark Side as Vandalia Black, she wrote Vampires Don’t Drink Coffee and Other Stories which includes a novella set during the English Civil War.
When not looking after her two hairy ponies, three cats and boisterous Staffie, or frowning over keypad or notebook, she likes nothing better than taking long walks and curling up with a good book.
I asked Heather some questions:-
Why do you write Regency novels?
I love the era! Although I wouldn’t want to live then (I like my creature comforts far too much!), I love the furnishings, the elegance and the courtesy, the quieter pace of life, the horses – and men in breeches and neckcloths! For a long time I avoided attempting a Regency novel because I felt I could never come anywhere near Georgette Heyer’s brilliance and didn’t want to set myself up to fail.
However, in 2003 or 2004 I could not work due to the Foot and Mouth crisis, so with time on my hands, an idea which had been growing in the back of my mind began to root. Eventually, many drafts later, that story became A Sense of the Ridiculous. The rest, as they say (love a good cliché!) is history.
How is the heroine of your book The Missing Duke like you?
Ha, ha. Not a lot! Perhaps the only things we have in common are common sense and dogged determination. She is brave and bold, a little tempestuous and prepared to go to any lengths to stand up for what she believes in. I, on the other hand, hate confrontation and am decidedly not brave.
Tell us a little about how you research your novels. I’m particularly fascinated by the hot air balloon in your latest!
I can lose myself for days down research rabbit holes! I love real books. Once I get my nose in a book, I am gone from the real world for hours. As it is no longer possible to spend hours in a library, I am prostrate at the feet of the internet god. There are thousands upon thousands of wonderful old books online now, so I try to find answers to my questions within tomes written at the time I am researching.
Care has to be taken, though, as many Victorian authors wilfully plagiarized earlier works. A wise owl once told me to check facts in at least three different sources. Mind you, the previous comment applies here, too. Whenever I can, which isn’t often nowadays due to the latest member of the household, who can’t be left alone, I haunt charity shops. They are a wonderful source for research books.
As for the hot air balloon details in my latest book, The Missing Duke, I spent hours looking up all sorts of answers to a zillion questions. I needed to know what the early balloons were made from, filled with, waterproofed/fireproofed with, how far they could fly and when advances were made and so on.
My original idea was for the hero to fly across the Channel, so I needed details of distance, winds, where they flew to, etcetera. I later decided (well my characters told me) something else would happen, so I then had to research plausible methods of proofing which would be innovative for the time, so a character could ‘invent’ them. Since my heroine travels to Paris, I needed to know all about the journey in 1814… and that added a further problem – the war in France and when the English were able to return to the Continent. Another plot query required information about prisons where the English were incarcerated by the French Government.
I put a tremendous amount of work into the historical aspects of my books in order to make them as accurate as possible, even down to tiny details like naming the actual landlord of an inn and describing its’ furnishings. I like my readers to walk beside my characters and experience what they are experiencing.
What can we look forward to from you in the future?
I am planning to rework a short novel from the drawer to release for Christmas, following the success of last year’s novella, Carpet of Snowdrops, although I may hate it and decide to write a new novella instead! There is a possible hush-hush project in the pipeline for next summer; I have a non-fiction work about horses to complete and polish; a book I wrote after A Sense of the Ridiculous, which was my mother’s favourite and I haven’t yet had the time to do it justice; and also the next book in the Welsh Boys series, my Shape Shifter novels about the brothers of a Welsh family with a deeply guarded secret. Devil’s Hoof is the first in the series of stand-alone novels. It is about horses, a man struggling to cope with life after war – and love, of course. I am nothing if not a romantic!
And then there are all the new stories just waiting to be written!
Goodness, I’m feeling inadequate again after the answer to the last question. Thank you for visiting me, Heather and best wishes for lots of sales of your new book.
If you would like to contact Heather you can use the following links:-
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I04PYPE
Amazon Author Page (US): http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00I04PYPE
Below are some details of Heather‘s books, beginning with her latest.
The Missing Duke
When his father dies, Lord Adam Bateman refuses to succeed to the dukedom which rightly belongs to his missing elder brother. Whilst performing secret and sensitive missions for the Duke of Wellington, he continues his efforts to find his twin. The search has become Adam’s all-consuming passion, leaving no time for affairs of the heart.
Miss Lucy Mercier is also seeking answers. Her father, a tailor, had been used to make hot air balloons for various noble patrons, including Lord Adam’s sire. Believing the deceased Duke of Wardley had been involved in her papa’s failure to return from the Continent, she takes employment in Lord Adam’s household in order to discover the truth. Then she accompanies him on an important commission for the Allied Army, and finds herself having to guard against a growing attraction for a man she knows she can never have.
Are the two disappearances connected and will two heads prove better than one in the pursuit of answers? Will Adam and Lucy find true happiness together or will the past – and their different stations – rise to keep them apart?
Purchasing links – UK or US
Laminitis or fever of the feet is crippling for horses. What must it be like for a man?
Matthew Swift, Special Forces veteran of the Iraq wars and invalided out of the army following an act of heroism, is struggling to adjust to civilian life. Suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, he is a loose cannon ready to explode, beset by horrific flashbacks and images. If that were not enough, Matt has broken up with his girlfriend and his father is fighting a hostile takeover, in the process hiding a heart problem from his family.
Sparks fly when Matt meets alternative therapist Shani Stevens, but then they become stranded in Rhandor Forest by unprecedented storms and have no choice but to help each other.
Both have scars, yet slowly they learn to trust. Mutual sympathy and understanding soon grow into an abiding passion, but Matt has a secret he cannot reveal…
A powerful love story and a poignant insight into the equine psyche, with a bit of mystery and adventure thrown in, Devil’s Hoof will grab your heart.
Purchasing links UK & US
A Sense of the Ridiculous
When a prank goes wrong, headstrong squire’s daughter Jocasta Stanyon wakes up in the bedchamber of an inn with no memory of who she is. The inn is owned by widow Meg Cowley and her handsome son Richard, who proves to be more than a match for the unconventional Miss Stanyon.
Having enjoyed a carefree childhood, Jocasta has refused all offers for her hand in the hopes of one day finding a soul mate who shares her sense of the ridiculous. She is drawn to Richard, but their stations in life are far apart and despite prolonging her stay by devious means, the idyll cannot last. When, by chance, her brother Harry turns up at the Holly Tree Inn, Jocasta has no choice but to return home. She hopes to persuade her father of Richard’s qualities, but then she is summoned to receive the addresses of a fashionable stranger…
Purchasing links UK & US
A Carpet of Snowdrops
Heavily enceinte, penniless and widowed, Eloise Wakefield travels from her native France to petition the military for assistance at Horse Guards in London. Dismissed by the officers there, she journeys to visit her husband’s grave at his family’s estate. By then almost destitute, she is turned away on a snow-driven night and faces an uncertain future.
Having narrowly avoided crushing the waif-like woman with his horse and caused her poor possessions to be ruined, Joscelin, Lord Rollaston, feels a certain responsibility for the widow and her unborn child. He escorts her to the home of his former nurse and soon finds himself embroiled with his best friend’s little family.
However, Eloise is a respectable woman. How can he provide for her without jeopardizing her reputation when her husband’s brother, the Duke of Ottley, is adamant she is not part of his family?
Purchasing Links UK & US
Thank you for visiting my blog – Morton S. Gray – Author. I hope you enjoyed this post. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. My novel The Girl on the Beach published by Choc Lit is available from all ebook platforms – Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Google Play.