Thursday, September 9, 2010
Hello. My special guest today is Heather McCollum. Please join me in giving her a warm welcome. Heather, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks so much for asking me to be on your blog. Hmmm . . . about me. Well, I’m a full time mom of three young kids and a gigantic golden retriever pup. I’m a part time (in other words, any coherent moment I can find) writer of historical paranormal romance. I’ve been writing all my life (how many times have you heard that one : ) but not seriously until about eleven years ago when I joined my local RWA chapter. Up until then I was a writer-in-denial, pursuing a doctorate in cellular immunology. My English teachers thought I was crazy, but I told them that writing was too subjective. That I wanted my grades and success based on objective results and I didn’t want anyone telling me how I should write. Ha! Now I am attending all sorts of workshops and conferences, paying people to tell me how I should write. And I eagerly await comments and revision requests from my agent and editor (okay, not eagerly, more like anxiously).
So why the change (am I allowed to ask myself questions?)? After a long day in the lab working with Western blots to see if an invisible protein in an invisible cell moved, I would go home to relax – in other words, write. On a sick day with a box of tissues as my Siamese twin, I would drag myself into my chair and boot up my current WIP to lose myself in someone else’s adventure instead of thinking about how awful I felt. When I slumped through my days during the first stages of depression and my girlfriend suggested I start writing again, just the idea propelled me to do something instead of sitting stagnantly in exhaustion. After subsequent months following the birth of my daughter when I was so terribly sick that the doctors thought I would need to be hospitalized, my husband suggested I write again – and I did. And the knot of hopelessness loosened. It was as if I’d been unable to breathe fully and suddenly my lungs were free to inhale and balloon. After all this – well, even stubborn Capricorn that I am had to admit – I’m a writer. I need to write.
Now writing hasn’t cured me of sickness or depression or the crazy life I lead with my dh and my “spirited” kids and dog, but it has given me an avenue to authenticity. I finally realized who I was and what I loved to do. And I began working toward publication.
So – there’s a TMI intro : ) I should also mention my books (I’m a terrible salesperson). My debut novel, PROPHECY: Book One of THE DRAGONFLY CHRONICLES, released in July in print and electronic formats from The Wild Rose Press. Book two of the same series, MAGICK, will be released in October. The series consists of five books, each set in a different historical time period about sisters who have been hidden in time by their mother in order to save them and the world from a malicious group of demons. PROPHECY was a Maggie finalist in 2008 and MAGICK was a Golden Heart finalist in 2009.
I will also be part of The Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance with my novella, HIGHLAND HEART, which will be released in January 2011 by Running Press.
Heather, those are some major contests! Congratulations are in order. I know what you mean about having to write too. How did you celebrate when you got “the call”?
My “call” to be published was actually an e-mail from my now editor, Jamie West, at The Wild Rose Press. It was sort of a slow motion realization, after a month of e-mails back and forth about my series, that this editor was actually interested in my work. Another editor at TWRP had given MAGICK a first place win in the 2008 Lone Star Writing contest and had passed the manuscript to Jamie.
I remember that night, sitting with my husband by the computer when Jamie’s e-mail popped up saying that I would be in the Faery Line. I didn’t quite know what that meant and e-mailed her back. It was then that she e-mailed that she’d sent me a contract earlier but it hadn’t gone through, but that she was indeed asking to publish my book! My husband and I smiled (that’s such a mild word – beamed widely until our faces nearly cracked) at each other while my kids screamed and jumped around the house (much like they do every day but with a slightly higher pitched screech). It was like I’d swallowed a bubble of happiness that expanded to fill every part of my body. I floated for a month!
That's such a wonderful story! Do you think being an author changed you?
Well I think I’ve always been an author so I haven’t changed much. I think when I finally started calling myself a writer (which was about a year before I published – here’s to the power of positive affirmations) I actually committed to producing pages.
An author, as most of you know, sees life a bit differently. I watch people, listen to their quirky lives and tuck away the information to use one day in a book. I run through random dialogue in my head while I’m driving. My brain whirls towards worst case scenarios. Being an acknowledged author has helped me realize that all this is normal. I’m just as strange as all the other writers I’ve met.
That's so funny. The brain of every writer I know works that way. Before I met other writers I thought it was just me. What drew you to the paranormal genre?
I love magic. And I love the idea that there is hidden magic all around us. I suppose normal reality is interesting, but add in a woman hiding her telepathic abilities or the spirit of a Wiccan priestess trying to save the world and you have excitement that transforms reality from a snake into a Westminster best-in-show poodle (talking about twisty balloon animals here).
Paranormal stories make me wonder “what if.” What if I had the ability to send my daughters through time to hide them from monsters? What if vampires and werewolves are real (I don’t have any in my stories but I’m a Twilighter). What if you can walk between train platforms to board a magical train to a wizard school? With paranormals, the only limits are what works and what doesn’t. And I’ve read enough to think that the right writer can make ANYTHING work.
What was your favorite scene in the book?
Oooo . . . there are so many favorites! I love the whole gypsy suitor scene with the bee and of course the ending. But I guess my favorite is the scene with Keenan and Serena in their magical clearing when Keenan realizes that he’s begun to fall in love. His whole life up until then has been about fighting and dying for his people. For the first time ever Keenan thinks about living instead of dying and he finally wishes on a shooting star.
Would you share your links with us?
Please visit me at my web site - www.HeatherMcCollum.com. I’m also a member of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart Finalists. You can find us at www.RubySlipperedSisterhood.com . This amazing group runs a daily blog on writing. My fabulous publisher can be found at www.TheWildRosePress.com .
7.We’d love to read an excerpt. Don’t forget to give us a buy link.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog. Here’s a brief excerpt from PROPHECY at the time Serena and Keenan first meet. Enjoy!
As long as the music played, Serena would
continue to dance as the flame. She never tired as
the serenity of the blazing ribbons of fire and the
dance kept the voices, the unending thoughts of
others, at bay. She heard them only as a whisper,
saw them only as a blank wall surrounding her on
the edge of light. Around and around she moved,
watching with half seeing eyes the web of thoughts
held out at the edge. She leaned against it evenly to
keep the thoughts from seeping inward, into her
As she rounded the fire once more, pushing
against the wills of her audience, a hole in the wall
appeared. Curiously she danced toward it. Reaching
out with her mind, Serena leaned into the hole. Her
mind fell through it, and her protective wall
shattered. “No!” she whispered frantically.
Images bludgeoned her. Naked flesh, her naked
flesh, pressed from behind, shoved into beds. Her
mouth on the men, her lips skimming over sweaty
“No,” she gasped as if for air. Quickly she flung
hard at the shards of carnal images. She took a
wrong step, her body flailing. She felt it, or rather
didn’t feel it, the void. She fell against it, against
him. She stared up at the dark, silent mountain
The man was a giant. He stood taller than any
man she had known. His face glowed with the light
of the fire, accenting a slash across his left cheek
from his ear to his jaw. The scar accentuated the
square set of his serious face. His eyes stared back
into hers, they were light, but she couldn’t tell the
color. They narrowed as if trying to read her. Read
her? Shocked, Serena realized that she could not
read him. Not at all, as if he were a hole, silence in
the noise of thoughts flowing around her.
His arms steadied her as he gazed into her eyes.
“Who are ye, lass?”
Serena was mesmerized. Never before had she
met someone who was blank to her. Someone with
whom she could not read their thoughts, their
“Lass, are ye hurt?” he asked, his sensual mouth
forming the deeply accented words.
Serena glanced at his hands wrapped around
her bare upper arms. Nothing, she read nothing
from him. Serena snatched off her glove. His scar.
Scars, chiseled into skin during battle, were
extremely powerful. Even her defenses could not
block the gruesome details.
Serena held her breath as she traced her finger
down the length of the slightly puckered skin from
his ear hidden in waves of dark hair to the rough
squareness of his chin. The muscles in his jaw
jumped at her touch. His lips opened on a ragged
No jolt shot down through her arm and up
behind her eyes. No visions of bloodstained iron,
muddy grime and anguished cries of war victims.
Just the void. He was the first person she had ever
met whom she knew absolutely nothing about.
“What are you?” she whispered. “A demon?”
The man’s face relaxed. “Some have called me
Was he serious? She couldn’t tell. Serena had
never needed to learn the subtle ways a body tells
when it speaks lies or jests. She had always been
able to tell even before the lie was uttered. But now,
now she was lost.
“What are ye called?” he asked, releasing her.
The gently rolling brogue reminded her of the
mountain people up north on the edge of the sea.
“Serena.” She wondered what her name would
sound like on his tongue.
Love it! This reads like a winner, Heather. I believe you do the paranormal well. Come back and see me again.