Before I get to the interview, I'd like to share Heather's two amazing book covers. Pretty cool, huh?
Grab a cup of coffee (or beverage of choice) and we'll get on with the interview!
Heather, you've just published your second book in your Vivienne Taylor series. What prompted you to write the first book? And how difficult was it to move to the second book?
The first book's premise actually came long before I wrote it. I was driving home from Ottawa, where I worked at the time. I was between Columbus Grove and Ottawa, and it's on a long stretch of Rt. 65, and I was just kind of bored and was letting my mind wander. The sun was shining through the window on my face and it was warm and wonderful, and I don't know what it was that made it jump into my brain, but I just imagined what if you woke up to the warmth of the sun on your cheek with this wonderful feeling like I was having then, only to open your eyes and find yourself laying on the ground, and left for dead. It would be quite the contrast from splendor to horror all just by opening one's eyes. It captivated me and I never forgot the idea of that afternoons' drive home. So when I decided to write a novel, I just HAD to give my little idea its chance to be something more.
Can you explain your writing style?
My writing style is a little bit of everything. Sometimes it's humorous, sometimes ironic. Other times it's graphic and gritty, and then heartwarming and light. I think a good book can take you anywhere, and through every emotion. If you can experience all of those plus urgency, worry, happiness, wonder...well, to me that is a good story. Which is what I try to do to the best of my ability in writing stories. Everyone is different and I'm not saying my books are for everyone, but so far, I've had some very good responses to my books. And that's wonderful as a writer to hear. Our egos are really fragile as artists; we are easily wounded when someone says that we suck. It breaks your heart a little. It's not easy trying to have "thick skin".
Is there one author who influenced your style or did it develop organically?
I believe a lifetime of stories influenced my writing collectively. My uncle Ben's stories and the way he used to tell them, had a slow but steady impact. My big sister used to write stories when we were kids and she'd share them with me. Edgar Allen Poe's darkness and detailed journeys -- Tell Tale Heart and Black Cat -- were downright life-changing when I read them for the first time. Janet Evanovich's humor and charm is out of this world good. So many times she made me literally laugh out loud, and I LOVE her for that. Sara Gruen's strength of character and the way she sets a scene with such amazing attention to detail also was a big influence. Dean Koontz's masterful complex stories that take a lot of people and link their stories into one is incredible. His novel, Watchers, was THE longest novel I'd ever read in my younger years, and after reading it, it was as if he lit a fire in me for reading like no other author ever had before. I am eternally grateful to him for giving me that gift. I love each of those authors, and I especially love poets too. Poets are the dreamiest of writers, the most heartfelt and raw, so I'd have to say they've influenced me just as much as my beloved fiction writers.
The journey to write a story from beginning to end is a challenge. What kept you going, especially with the busy life you lead?
Truthfully, Dead In A Ditch, was the easiest for me to write. It flowed like crazy out of me. Which is strange since I'd never written fiction before. My fingers took to my keyboard like a madwoman! It was so fun for me to just let my imagination go wherever it wanted. Dark places, scary places, sexy places! Book two took a lot more research and thought to make it turn out the way I wanted it to. I think anytime you write a series , you're going to have that in trying to stay true to your characters and to keep congruent throughout the series. The Ordeal took me longer to write, but I didn't like it any less. I felt that my writing was growing and evolving and I was learning from the pitfalls of my first book. I feel the story is a little "thicker", if that makes sense.
What part of a story is the hardest part for you to write?
For me, the hardest part of writing is when I'm writing something that I don't have firsthand experience or knowledge of. So I do a lot of research to capture them correctly and make them as realistic as possible. For instance, in Dead In A Ditch I had to write about someone doing "meth" and I had no idea how one did meth, so I spent an afternoon watching episodes of Intervention and Training videos on how to identify if there's a meth lab in your neighborhood (Florida State Highway Patrol via YouTube). Research isn't miserable. I very much enjoy obtaining knowledge in all forms, but sometimes the things you learn about, you're glad you don't know about them firsthand.
I work in the legal community and there have been times through the course of that line of work, that I've had to see things like autopsy photos that were exhibits in a murder case. I've read transcripts in rape cases, child abuse cases, and my life has been touched by the awful things humans are capable of, and while I never would wish those travesties on anyone, it's important to know they exist. Sort of Aesop's Fables for adults! *laughing*
If you've not read Aesop's Fables since childhood, go back and read them again. They have new meaning when you read them as an adult.
The theme for Dead In A Ditch is: Your parents were right to warn you that if you aren't careful, someday you could wind up that way!
That very first time we expose our writing to the public, it's hard on the nerves. We're both from small towns where most people know us or have heard of us. Did you struggle with telling people that you were going to publish your stories? Or did you take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and say, "Hey guys, guess what?"
When I wrote Dead In A Ditch, it was just kind of a little project never to be anything more than a story that I'd written just for me. My cousin, Rachel, has always been a really big supporter of my writing. I wanted to see if I could write fiction, and I wanted to make it a good endeavor. After a year of Rachel editing and encouraging me to expand my story in some places and to delete in others, she said, "Heather, this is really good. You should try to publish it." I took it as family flattery and I replied, "You're my friend and family, you're supposed to tell me you love it."
Being me, I wanted a second opinion, and a third, and an eleventh! After I'd selectively shared my novel with people who I knew were as blunt as the day is long, they said it was a good book, and I thought that maybe Rachel was right.
Together, Rachel and I made Dead In A Ditch a fun project; we'd self-publish it and see what happened. To my astonishment, and total and complete honor, strangers not only read my book -- they liked it! A feeling you never forget is the first time it hits you that you don't suck at writing like you thought you did. I know that I'm no Dean Koontz, John Grisham or James Patterson, but a girl can always dare to dream. I have no regrets. This adventure has been one of the best crazy ideas I've ever had. Thanks to Rachel, of course!
Would you be so kind as to share an excerpt from Dead In A Ditch?
I'd love to, Jan!
I awoke to the feeling of the sun beating down on my face. It was that golden ball of light that I loved and adored my entire life, which was with me on this day. Despite the fact that I was a redhead whose dermatologist vehemently instructed avoiding exposure, I could not help the natural high the sun had the ability to provide.
Normally opening one's eyes to sunshine would have been a much welcomed view, however I knew this time would be different. As I prepared to peel my eyes open, all of my senses decided to come alive. It was like my body was awakening from a deep slumber, only this slumber was not of the comfy, well-rested variety. My mouth was the first part of my body that my mind gave notice to. I tried to swallow but instead found a burning feeling inside my throat. My tongue was not just stuck to the roof of my mouth, but also swollen at the sides where my teeth were clenched down upon it. Upon my jaw's release, I was not entirely certain my tongue would still be in one piece.
After my jaw got up the nerve to finally release its hold, I ran my swollen sorry excuse for a tongue across my lips to find them amazingly sharp, like shards of broken glass. They were dried and cracked and tasted like metal. They were more industrial than they were human.
As if that feeling was not scary enough, I started to give thought as to what the rest of my body would look and feel like. I was not sure I wanted to know where I was, or in what shape the rest of me was in. Oh God, what if I open my eyes and realize I'm not dead, only to wish that I was?
Bio for Heather Lynn Osting:
Since I don't believe in bios that say things like, Born here, went to college here, I will include this instead --
Well, folks, what can I tell you? I'm redheaded, good-natured and small-town. (Delphos, Ohio - born and raised). I love motorcycles, writing, photography and reading a book so good it takes you somewhere else in space and time.
I'm a romantic that appreciates the proper use of a good curse word.
I'm a paralegal by day and a writer when my imagination takes over and holds me hostage until I write what it wants me to write.
While my writing borders on graphic or some might even say vulgar at times, I believe in stories that make me cringe one minute and smile the next. I don't think I could write a book that didn't have a little humor mixed with some seriousness because that's how I deal with real tough times in life. I try to find humor where I can.
I'm addicted to good quotes, especially those by Albert Einstein. I collect old books and I asked for office supplies for Christmas. Nothing makes you want to write more than a new gel pen held between your fingers and a blank page of paper before you.
My favorite color is blue. I have two dogs that make me smile regularly. I play the guitar very poorly and I'm intent on learning to speak Italian, even if I have to beg my friend Alexandra from Rome to only speak to me in Italian until I'm forced to learn what the heck she's rambling on about in one of the world's most beautiful languages.
Lastly, I cannot thank those who have read my novels for giving me a chance to entertain them, if only for a short time. Not everyone will fall in love with my stories but I will appreciate the opportunity to tell them. It's an honor and a privilege on my end to do so.
You can find Heather at:
Heather's books can be found here:
Goodkindles.net - http://goodkindles.net/2013/01/dead-in-ditch-suspensecrimethriller-by.html
Amazon -- http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AJZ8X0U/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1S5PGDB3V8K1Q6ZZXCDV&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846