March 9, 2012

Writer Wrangler: Heather Hildenbrand

Heather Hildenbrand

YA Paranormal Author of

and she's here today to talk to us about her books, life and other stuff that we found interesting.

Where is Gliese based and is there a sequel for Across the Galaxy?
Gliese is based on an actual star that was discovered about 20 light years away from Earth called Gliese 581. You can read about it on Wikipedia here: Part of the reason for choosing a real planet/star is because I'm a closet sci-fi geek. (Don't tell anyone. It might spoil this "hip-mom" image I've got going on. Haha.) And there has been speculation from scientists as to whether Gliese may be the first (discovered) inhabitable planet. It has a lot of Earth-like qualities. Interesting to imagine...

The other reason is that I'm the type that gets drawn so far into a good story that I like to pretend the author's world actually exists. And in the case of Gliese, I feel like it becomes that much more believable.

As for a book 2, there are no plans right now for it, but you never know. I have an idea where it would go next so maybe someday I'll catch my breath with these other projects I've got going and re-visit Alina and Ander. ;)
Who or what is behind Grandma's character?
I LOVED creating the Grandma character and I'm so glad you asked about her! I definitely think you will see more of her in future books.  
Like Tara. I had a really opinionated grandma (aka Granny) and I basically took her personality and multiplied it by a thousand and then added the physical fighter skills that a seasoned Hunter should have. If you want an idea of where her "fire" comes from, I draw from remembering how my Granny used to go at it verbally with my grandpa (aka Pop) and threaten him with the frying pan or broom handle. It was hilarious for us kids but you also knew better than to mess with her in those moments. 
The real life version didn't drive a Hummer but if there had been a minivan version of one, she would have. She's in a home now because she has Alzheimer's but even without her memory, she's still got a lot of fire in her, and I love her. So that's the inspiration behind "Grandma." She's the grandparent we all wish we had.
Can you tell us something about the third book and your plans for the Dirty Blood Series?
I can only tell you a little because its still in the plotting stages. With a series, once you get this far along, you have a lot more threads to weave together and a lot more potential holes to keep filled, so the plotting is more intense. I want to make sure I address every hanging thread from book one and two so I have to go slowly with this one.
Hmm, as for giving you a taste of what's to come... Alex and Wes will have to spend some time together in book 3. THAT should be interesting! The tension just kicked up a notch! And George will play a bigger role because Tara has to make sure he doesn't turn into a monster. As for the future of the series, there will definitely be a book 4 - not sure about a book 5 yet.
Why write a short story [The Specials] series instead of a full length novel?
You must mean DreamKiller. Here's the deal on that. At the time I wrote it I was still unpublished and looking to build a resume fit for NY publishing. One of the tips I picked up from various How-To sites said that getting a short story published in a magazine was a great way to earn brownie points on a query letter. A five-thousand word short story was nothing after my 120 THOUSAND word debut novel. So, I sat down and busted something out. I submitted it to a gazillion mags and never heard a thing. So, a couple of months later I sat back down and really paid attention to what I had. it wasn't bad but it needed something. So I got serious and worked out a real plot and got excited about it. And now, its definitely a story worth reading. Its fun and fast. Think X-men meets Underworld. ;) In the meantime I decided to self-publish so instead of resubmitting the story, I offered it up to readers. Now, in between novels, I write the next installment as a way to clear my head and refresh it for the next project. 
What's the hardest part about being an Indie author?
For me, its balancing my time. As an indie, you wear a lot of hats. You write, edit, handle cover design, create jacket descriptions, and MARKET. Marketing is a HUGE time suck if you let it be. You have to be on Facebook and Twitter and check your email and write blog posts and coordinate giveaways and blog hops and tours and .... yeah you get the point. When I first started this a year ago I got sucked into the marketing and ended up spending about 60-70% of my time marketing and only about 30% actually writing. NOW, a year later, I'm finally learning the discipline of 80-90% writing and 10-20% marketing. I still struggle with it but that's the balance I work towards.
Being home schooled, did you find that an impediment in terms of your writing and do you feel like it limited the way you write about teenagers?
Hmm. I've never been asked this question before, which is making me contemplate it in careful thought... okay, here's what I think. No. I don't think it impedes my writing. First off, I was in public school through eighth grade so I knew what I was missing in high school. Second, my mom was a teacher by trade before I came along so I didn't get off easy or eat bowls of cereal and watched Saved by the Bell reruns all day, like some of you may think when you hear the term home schooled. (only half the morning.) Seriously though, the nice thing about being home schooled was that I could study something new instead of repeating the Civil War every year in history class like the public schools did. (We live in Virginia, near the battlegrounds. It's what you learn until your teachers are blue in the face.) We also did a lot of "field trips" to museums, landmarks, and even the grocery store for Home Ec. EVERYTHING was a learning experience. I learned how to balance a checkbook and do long-hand tax returns with pencil and eraser before I was eighteen. Besides that, English comp and grammar were always my favorite/strong subjects. A lot of it comes naturally to me.

So I don't think being home schooled impedes my craft or career choice. I think it enhances it. As for my choice to write teenagers - I spent my share of time around them. Being home schooled didn't make me a hermit. I went to high school prom with my best friend - we double dated and wore matching dresses. (We didn't care if that made us dorks then and we don't care now.) Then (and I reaaally hope my mother isn't reading this) we went back to a hotel room with our dates. Trust me, my teenage experience wasn't lacking that night. I also played sports: basketball, softball, and soccer - and I had boyfriends. More of them than a girl should say. On top of that, I worked full time by the time I was sixteen because my school work could be completed around my work schedule so I earned a paycheck while all of my friends were stuck in the halls of learning. Yay for money!

That being said, let me be clear. I will NEVER, EVER home school my kids. Not because it's a secondary form of education but because I'm fairly certain someone (probably me) wouldn't survive the experience. I do not have the patience my mother does. That woman is a saint!
I know you're going through something difficult right now, has writing been a cathartic experience for you?
Definitely, without question, absolutely.
For anyone who doesn't know, I gave birth to a baby boy - Tyler Andrew - on December 15, 2011 and he passed away 5 days later on December 20th. He had cardiomyopathy - a bad heart. It was enlarged and overworking from the second he was born and his body just couldn't get the blood flow and oxygen it needed. Slowly, his organs and brain shut down and he weakened until we had to let him go. It was the saddest, hardest thing I've ever gone through and I am still working through the sadness and loss of it. I feel cheated and lonely and empty and the biggest outlet I've had is my writing. (If you missed the story, read it HERE
As a result of sharing my experience, I've heard a lot of women comment that they've dealt with something similar and know my pain. To those women, I am so sorry you know what this feels like but I am glad we can connect through it. I think it helps to know there are others capable of understanding. I'm usually not a "preacher" of any kind because no one likes to be preached at but I feel the need to say that despite the loss and the sadness I feel, I am comforted by KNOWING that I will see my baby again someday, because I know Jesus and have him in my heart - And I am so grateful for the kind of hope that brings.For anyone out there that has lost a child (or any loved one), I hope you have the same promise of reunion that I do. *End of Sermon*
I wasn't sure I'd be ready to write again for awhile after losing Tyler and that would've been okay, to take my time and get back to work when I felt ready. But the need to write is in me and there's no escaping that. I began journaling first, just to get my feelings down and out of my head. As a result of the journaling, a character began to form. And then a story. The character is a girl who has a lot in common with me right now. Pain and loss. The story is her journey through it. I've been very hush hush about it until now because I never really planned to publish it. It was a means of emptying my emotions and working through the pain. but its something more now. It took on a life of its own and its something I think my fans will enjoy while they wait for me to get on with Book 3 of the Dirty Blood series. (Which I really will do now, promise!)

Thanks Heather for gracing our blog with behind the scenes and personal stuff too!

You can stalk Heather in her blog, Twitter @HeatherHildenbr and Facebook accounts.

We are also currently giving away copies of 
Across the Galaxy
 Dirty Blood Series
 and The Specials 


  1. Thanks Heather for taking your time to do this interview. Unlike Braine, I haven't gotten the chance to read your books yet but Braine has been raving about them so I'll make sure to put in on top of my TBR list.

    I'm sorry about losing Tyler. I'm not a parent but I'm sure that you went through was definitely challenging and heartbreaking. I do hope that your writing will help heal you. I know it takes a lot to talk about something so personal and I feel honored that you would share something like that with us. Thank you.

    Wish you nothing but the best of luck with your writing career!

  2. I really enjoyed the Writer Wrangler, and it really made me want to read Heather's books. I've seen them on various websites and it's neat to hear the stories behind them and also behind the author. The books look great, the design is professional, and it's nice to hear of an indie author doing so well.

    Good luck with everything!


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