Monday, October 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Victoria Heckman!

Victoria Heckman, author of BURN OUT, is my guest today, and it's her birthday! So we're having cake and ice cream while we talk. Welcome, Victoria, and Happy Birthday!

Thank you so much, Susan! The cake is awesome and the ice cream is homemade, isn't it?

Only the best for my guests.
Tell us something about yourself that readers might be surprised to learn.
My idea for the animal communicator character in BURN OUT came because I have always talked with my animals the way Elizabeth does.  And they do talk back... : )

OKAAAAY! I'm not making any comment about that since I hear voices myself (wink-wink).
How many books have you written?
3 in the K.O.’d in... Hawai’i series, 1 in the Coconut Man Ancient Hawai’i series and 1 animal communicator which WAS supposed to be a stand alone, but my fans are demanding another, so I suppose that’s my newest series!
What books or authors have influenced you?
When I was a kid, I read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, but since there wasn’t YA back then, by the time I was 12 I was reading Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardiner.
What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?
Selfishly, when someone I don’t know and am not related to, says they loved something I wrote!
Tell us about your latest release, BURN OUT.
Released a year ago, it’s doing well.  BURN OUT features Elizabeth Murphy and her fire fighter husband, Tig.  They live in a small (unnamed town) on the Central Coast of California.  She is an animal communicator (not pet psychic!) who carves out a small income serving local pet owners. However, when a temporary data entry position opens at the Fire Department, she accepts to earn a little extra money and be closer to her husband.  She notices a pattern in the frequency and severity of fire fighter injuries and when Tig is hurt on the job, Elizabeth intensifies her investigation.  However, her witnesses are animals and they don't have a great track record with reliable testimony on the stand.

Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats? 

Were any of your books more challenging to write than the others?
Kapu-Sacred.  The first Coconut Man Mystery of Ancient Hawai’i.  That one was calling and calling.  I did 2 years of research before I could write a word.  I still didn’t have a character, although I knew he would be male and a Hawai’ian.  (K.O. is female and caucasian.)  I met an intriguing character on a research trip to Kauai.  I thought I was researching the next K.O., but no....  So, it was at least four years before Coconut Man came into the world!
What are some of the problems you faced while plotting a series with ongoing characters, Victoria?
Keeping track of things book to book.  Yes, I have logs of character traits, but in between books, etc, I lose track of the logs... I know, I know!
How do you develop characters?
The characters come to me, much like you’d meet a new *real* person. Then as I work with them, I discover new things. 
How do you choose your setting?
There was never a question of Hawai’i being my place.  I went to college there and didn’t leave until about 15 years ago. I worked closely with the Honolulu Police Department and had a great friend who became my source.

What are your protagonist’s strengths? Flaws?
She wants to save the world.  She bites off more than she can chew, and will do anything for a friend.  Yes, those are both her strengths and weaknesses.  She is loyal to a fault and believes in the law and her role in upholding it.  An ongoing conflict is that she is white in that world, and very much an outsider however long she lives there. 

How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
Of course, Hawai’i is the home of my heart and I spend time there researching and revisiting old haunts.  K.O. happens to love the restaurants and hiking spots I do, so that helps! 
We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out both off and online?
I attend conferences and conventions. I spend time in libraries and Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.  I teach workshops and belong to a local performing hula halau (group) and they invite me to participate in things, so I have the Aloha Spirit even far away from the Islands.
Can you tell us about current or future projects?
At the moment I am helping our Sisters in Crime Chapter-Central Coast- launch their newest anthology, “Somewhere In Crime.”  Mystery and suspense short stories of historical fiction or time travel.  I am also figuring out the newest Elizabeth Murphy (animal communicator) book.  I am a middle school teacher so during the school year, I can’t create a novel.  That will happen next summer after I lay the ground work now.
Where can folks learn more about your books and events? or friend me on Facebook!
Thanks for the interview, cake and ice cream, Susan.

It was my pleasure, Victoria.  I hope the rest of your birthday is filled with special treats.
Now when can I expect my plane ticket to Hawaii? (joking!)



Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Happy Birthday, Victoria! Great blog, Susan, and as always, I love learning new things about Victoria who is a friend I enjoy a lot.

M.M. Gornell said...

Happy Birthday, Victoria! Great interview. Madeline