The Romance Reader Interviews

  The Interviews

New Faces 220
Heather Snow
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by Cathy Sova

Welcome to our New Faces column, where you can meet debut romance authors and discover their books. This time we are visiting with Heather Snow, whose first book is Sweet Enemy from Signet Eclipse. Letís meet her.

Heather, welcome to TRR! Tell us about yourself.

Hello and thanks for having me at The Romance Reader. I am thrilled to be here! My name is Heather Snow and I'm a historical romance author with a degree in Chemistry who discovered it was much more fun to create chemistry on the page rather than in the lab. My debut novel, Sweet Enemy, was just released in February and is the first in a series that features science-savvy heroines with a bit of mystery.

I live in the Midwest with my husband and two sons, affectionately known on social media as The Heir and The Spare (which is a little historical romance author humor and not an actual indication of how we view them!). The boys are 3 ½ and 8 months, so as you can imagine, I have my hands full!

Are you coming to romance writing from another job? Do you still have a day job?

No. I started writing shortly before The Heir was born. I've been fortunate in that my husband's income allows me to stay home with our children, so I'd left my career behind to raise a family. But I'm also a goal-oriented person and needed somewhere to put my creative energy. I'd always liked the idea of writing, but hadn't really had the time to give it a real go until then.

What led you to write romance?

I've always been an avid reader, and I've been hooked on historical romance since the day I discovered my Nana's hidden stash, secreted behind her recliner on the very bottom shelf of her bookcase. I considered many genres when I decided to try my hand at a novel, but in the end I decided to write romance because it is a genre that celebrates love, growth, positive emotions and happy endings, and putting more of that into a world where endings are not always so happy, putting more of that hope out there, is important work.

I enjoy writing historical romance in particular because to me, it's more like a grown-up fairy tale than other genres. I love the language…I attribute a significant portion of my vocabulary to reading historical romance growing up. I love that you get to learn bits and pieces of history as you read (and I love researching fascinating aspects of history and finding the stories within). I love the fantasy of glittering balls and palatial estates with manicured gardens, without the everyday worries of our modern world. It's like another layer of escape, one more step removed from the life I live, and I love creating that escapism experience for my readers.

Tell us about your road to publication.

Sweet Enemy is not only my debut novel, but my first completed manuscript. It took me a bit of time to research and write-a couple of years, actually-although there were several months after The Heir was born that I didn't write at all. I was too wrapped up in baby bliss! (and blissfully unfamiliar with deadlines…)

Much of that time was also spent learning the craft of writing. When I decided to pursue writing as a career, I tackled it much as I would any other challenge-analytically (remember the whole chemistry degree...). I went to the library and checked out one of those "Idiot Guides to Writing Romance". Oh yes. I did.

Then, I picked my six favorite historical romance novels and read them with analysis in mind. First, I read them straight through, and then wrote out the stories as I saw them in four parts so I could understand how they were constructed. Then I went chapter by chapter to see how pivotal plot and character elements built upon each other. Then I did a character study for each character, including secondary and ancillary ones to analyze why they made it into the book and what purpose they served.
Sound crazy? It does to me a little now, too, but I still refer back to those notes when I'm struggling to keep my stories tight. I also took tons of online classes and workshops (it was much easier to do that while sleep-deprived with a newborn than it actually was trying to be creative and actually write.)

But finally, he started sleeping through the night, and I got serious about the writing. It only took me a few months from there to finish Sweet Enemy. I found a fantastic critique group of talented and giving authors, and when it was done, I decided to enter it in a few contests to see what people thought of it. You see, my heroine is a Regency-era lady chemist, who was fascinating to me, but I wasn't sure romance readers would think so. I figured contests were a good way to gauge reader opinion.

To my amazement and delight, Sweet Enemy became a finalist in several contests around the same time, including the Kiss of Death's Daphne du Maurier, Hearts Through History's Romance Through the Ages, and RWA's Golden Heart®. It was a very exciting time! Things moved very quickly after that-my agent found me through one of those contests, we submitted Sweet Enemy to several publishers and sold it three weeks later.

What kind of research was involved for your first book?

With a historical, there is always a ton of research just to get the atmosphere down properly-from social customs to architecture to furnishings, clothing, etc. You have to be very careful not to have your characters doing things or saying things they wouldn't have known at the time.

With Sweet Enemy, I had quite a bit of additional research to do, particularly about the chemistry of the day, and what my heroine would have known and would have been working on. Also, she does get to use chemistry in serious and not so serious ways (yes, she does get to blow something up-how often do you see that in a Regency, eh?) I also did research about my hero's background-cavalry, the Napoleonic Wars, as well as research about what his present goals were-I studied living conditions of the poor, the politics of the day, early industrialism. I did research about Shropshire, where most of the story takes place.

And then, because it is also a mystery, there was a whole other avenue of research to do. I don't want to tell you about what, because that would give away too much, but it's explained in the author's note at the end of the book.

Tell us about your debut book.

I'll give you a very short blurb, but there is a longer one on my website, as well as a book trailer at http://www.heathersnowbooks.com/My_Books.html

Beakers and ball gowns don't mix, so when a lady chemist goes undercover as a husband-hunter at a country house party to investigate the earl whose family she suspects murdered her father, romance isn't part of her formula. But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can't control…

As you can imagine, my poor, literal minded heroine having to participate in some of the frivolous activities house parties are known for make for some fun moments! It's also a highly emotional story, and readers have seemed to enjoy watching Liliana clash wits with Geoffrey.

Who are some of your influences as a writer?

The romance authors that inspire me the most are: Lisa Kleypas-her writing is truly sublime…interesting, engaging, highly emotional…just beautiful. I can get lost in it. Julie Garwood writes incredibly funny family dynamics and characters that leap off of the page and endear themselves to you. Julia Quinn writes fantastic, snappy dialogue. I wish I could channel how well Laura Lee Guhrke writes the emotional angst between characters. Sabrina Jeffries always writes tight stories, and there is always a place or two in each of her books where I look up and say "Wow, I wish I could write like that"-be it a turn of phrase or beautiful imagery.

What does your family think of having a published romance author in their midst?

They are very proud, of course. My novel was the first romance my mother had ever read and now she's hooked. Even my husband, uncles and our family priest read it (and claim to love it-I don't think they're just being nice...). My 3 year old can pick "Mommy's book" out at a glance and is probably the only preschooler who regularly totes around romance paperbacks as a normal part of his day.

That's not to say there aren't challenges, though. Our eldest was just 1 ½ when Sweet Enemy sold, and while on deadline with book 2, our second son was born. It's hard being a writer with small kids. Not only the sleep deprivation, but all of the extra time that things like promotion take, particularly on a debut novel. It does put some strain on the family. We think it will be worth it, though (and pray it will get a little easier to juggle once the boys are in school!)

Tell us about plans for future books.

Well, the second in the Veiled Seduction series, SWEET DECEPTION, comes out on August 7th. I'm pretty excited about it! It features a Regency-era Bones type character (think Temperance Brennan, not the doctor on Star Trek!) who gets tangled up with a Regency James Bond type. I am currently working on the 3rd book in the series, tentatively titled SWEET MADNESS. After that, I don't know!

How can readers get in touch with you?

I'd LOVE to hear from you:

www.HeatherSnowBooks.com

Heather, thanks for joining us, and best of luck with Sweet Enemy!

April 22, 2012

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