Q&A With Heather McCollum
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Q&A With Heather McCollum
Tonight I have the honor of doing a Q&A with USA Today Bestselling author of historical romance Heather McCollum. Most of her novels take place in 16th and 17th century Scotland. I don’t know about you but it reminds me of Outlander a bit.
Hi Bianca! I’m so happy to be here today! Thank you for having me on
You’re welcome Heather. I’m so glad we’re able to do this.
Q: What made you want to write historical romance?
A: I grew up reading Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Beatrice Small, and Julie Garwood romance novels. I would walk through the hallways of my high school with an open romance book in front of my nose. I always felt a step out of time, like I should have been born long ago. Imagining myself in those stories felt like I’d come home. I initially fell in love with the rich history of Scotland through books, especially the 16th – 18th centuries. After visiting the Scottish Highlands in 1994, the stories that had been brewing in my head took on the details of that rugged land and the passionate people who had loved and fought for it.
Q: At what point in your life did you realize that you were called to be an author?
A: In second grade, I used the word “tiptoed” in a short Christmas story. My teacher was thoroughly impressed and entered it to be printed in the local newspaper. The flattery was nice, but I didn’t see myself being a writer when I grew up. I was considering marrying a prince and becoming a princess. In tenth grade, my high school English teacher encouraged me to submit a piece of writing in an application to attend a writer’s camp at the University of Virginia. I made it in and had a wonderful, creative time, but I didn’t like people telling me how to write. I was aiming to be a dolphin trainer at Sea World. My English teacher was quite dismayed when I decided to major in Marine Biology when I went to Maine for college. My college English teacher couldn’t understand why I wasn’t an English major and gave me A’s on all my assignments. But I wanted to cure cancer and went on to grad school in Cellular Immunology. There I realized I didn’t want to work in a lab, so I got a job at a drug development company where I worked for fourteen years running clinical trials. Through all this, I continued to dream up my stories. My husband encouraged me to write them down, to get them out of my head. Finally, I decided to take the plunge and become who I was always meant to be: a writer. I was nearly thirty years old by the time I figured that out on my own.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to be an author? What do you tell anyone who struggles with writers block?
A: The advice I received from very wise authors is one I will pass along, although at the time I really didn’t like it. “Be patient.” Yes, there are writers who make it big right out of the gate. I was definitely not one of them. I still remind myself to be patient and keep doing the thing I love. “Just write the story,” I tell myself. Being an author takes discipline and perseverance and loads of patience.
Some specific advice:
Read what you want to write.
Make friends with writers/network.
Join writing or critique group.
Take classes on plot, pacing, characterization, and the writing business. Keep going. The published author is one who didn’t stop. For those dealing with Writer’s Block… it’s tough. I’ve been there. Once I had to “runaway” to a cabin in the woods to meditate and brainstorm to get out of my rut. Changing your scenery can really help, even just going to another room in your house. You can also try to get excited about the time period or premise of your book again. When I traveled to Scotland, all my creativity bloomed once more, rushing back with smells, sights, sounds, and feelings (yes, I actually rolled around on a moor).
Q: If you were to write in another genre, which genre would it be and why?
A: There are so many! I want to write some WWII stories (my family has a personal history). I also have five books that are paranormal historical romances, which I am going to re-release under a penname later this year (look out for Eleri Drake books). But I also dream of writing a cozy mystery series about a woman who pairs up with the sea captain ghost haunting her seaside house to solve murder mysteries (think Murder She Wrote crossed with The Ghost and Mrs. Muir). One thing about being an author that is fabulous – I’m never bored! Stories are constantly popping up and swirling in my head.
Q: What new novels are you writing now?
A: I am currently writing the fifth Scottish historical romance in my Sons of Sinclair series. The first four books (#4 releases April 2023) are about four brothers who are the sons of a warlord in 16 th century northern Scotland. The warlord went mad when his wife died birthing the fourth son and decided it was the end of days. So he raised his four boys as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Justice, and Death. In order for them to win the greatest prize of all, love, their worlds are turned upside down. The fifth book is about their sister who was ignored because she didn’t fit into the father’s plan. But she’s no meek mouse, and when a Norse warrior comes to destroy her brothers, he learns that Hannah Sinclair will protect her clan with her life.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels? I would like to see more similar shows like Outlander and everything else historical on tv or in a movie.
A: I wish they did but no. If you have any contacts, I’d be happy to modify my books into screenplays. : ) I too would like to see more historical romances on TV or in movies. The sets and costumes can make it expensive to undertake. It can be quite prohibitive from what I’ve heard.