I had the great pleasure of interviewing Heather Huffman for the release of her latest novel, Roses in Ecuador. I wanted to thank Heather once again for agreeing to do this interview and answering my questions.
Here’s what she told me…
“Roses in Ecuador” is a beautiful love story with suspense, a story that also raises awareness about human trafficking. I loved every single page. What did inspire you to write about Devon and Jane’s story?
First, thank you so much for saying that. Your opinion means a lot to me! As for the book, like most of my novels, this one started with a dream. I jotted the dream down the next day, and it’s a good thing, too, because I can’t remember most of it anymore! The moment when Jane and Devon first really met still stands out in my mind, though. I can still clearly picture Devon. Even in my dream, his carefree smile pulled me in. I could tell by the look in his eyes he was crazy about Jane despite her resistance to him. And I remember he had the kind of hair that made a girl’s fingers just itch to sink into it.
Once I started researching rose plantations in Ecuador, I found out about the deplorable conditions so many of the workers suffered through. I also learned about one plantation owner who went above and beyond to ensure the quality of life of his employees. I can’t remember the man’s name or even where I saw the story, but his compassion was the spark that would become Devon McAlister in my world.
I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being amazed at how it all comes together, from the initial dream to the character development to all the little plot pieces from all of the books that fall into place.
What did make you choose Ecuador as the setting of your novel?
Because my initial dream included the rose plantation and the jaguars, I knew the book needed to be set in a South American country with both of those elements. Ecuador was the natural choice.
I went into the book using Ecuador as a setting because it fit. By the time I’d finished writing it, I’d made it a personal goal to visit the country at least once in my life. I found myself completely charmed by the place.
Jane is a strong woman who decides to react and not to let past experiences drag her down. What was the trait of hers you wanted readers to love the most?
Her sense of integrity and mercy. When Jane’s heart was broken, she chose to forgive and tried to move on even though Sam didn’t deserve her mercy or care what impact his choice had on her. Sometimes, as we see later on in the book, she has to work a little to find that mercy. But I admire that time and again she chooses to walk with integrity rather than be crippled by the actions of others.
Besides Devon and Jane, which were the characters in Roses in Ecuador you enjoyed writing about the most?
Cody Kingsley, without a doubt. I’ve had a crush on him since I was seventeen years old, so bringing him to life again in Roses, seeing this other side of him, was a lot of fun. I’m currently working with my editor to wrap up his story, a manuscript I started when I was seventeen and finished at nineteen.
Was there a scene that was particularly hard to write?
The moment when everything just goes horribly wrong for Jane towards the end was difficult for me to write. I deleted and rewrote it at least three times.
All your stories are very powerful and they always leave a mark on me. Was becoming an author something you always wanted?
Thank you so much for saying that; your kindness always moves me. I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember. It’s such a part of me that I almost don’t feel comfortable in my own skin if I’m not at some stage of working on a book. That said, I had no idea I wanted to be a writer. For most of my childhood and into young adulthood, I wanted to be an actress. Fallback careers included being a veterinarian or marine biologist. When I was 18 (and had chickened out of heading to LA), my boyfriend told me he thought I should be a writer. I looked at him like he was crazy – even though I was constantly working on a book.
It wasn’t until I hit 31 and had drifted from job to job because I couldn’t find anything that fit that I decided to get serious about writing. I think I’d always been looking for something more “practical.” I realized it was passed time to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up and the only reason I hadn’t pursued writing was fear. My degree was in marketing communication; I used it get a job writing for a corporation and started really cleaning up a manuscript for submission. Two years after that decision, I signed with Booktrope, my publisher.
How many hours a day do you usually spend writing?
That depends on what else is going on in life and where I’m at with my deadline. On average, if you’re including blogs and interviews along with writing and editing books, I spend between four to six hours a day writing, five to six days a week. Other marketing activities and answering reader mail usually takes up at least another hour or two. If I’m behind a deadline, I can spend 16 – 20 hours in front of my computer. If there’s a particularly big project looming on the farm or if my boys have a string of activities during a particular week, then I’m lucky to get an hour in.
When did you become part of the movement against human trafficking?
This January made two years since I became actively involved. I first learned about trafficking while writing Throwaway, but it took me a little while to figure out where I fit in the fight. Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing nearly enough. Sometimes I’m amazed at how far the entire movement has come. Awareness has grown by leaps and bounds, laws are being changed and law enforcement officials are being better equipped for their role in the fight. There are still miles to go, but I’m encouraged we’ll get there.
What are you currently reading?
I have been trying to finish Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South for almost a year now but something always comes up or I get sidetracked by a colleague’s book. (Sorry, had to drop everything when Gabriel’s Rapture came out!) I just got into North and South again when my teenage son swiped my Nook, so progress has been thwarted once more.
What can you tell us about your future projects?
I can tell you that I wish I could write faster because I have so many books I want to get to!
Readers should look for Fool’s Game to be released this spring – that’s the book about Cody Kingsley I mentioned earlier. Some of the questions that were left unanswered in Roses in Ecuador will play out in this novel. I’m also working on Karise McAlister’s as yet unnamed story, which I hope to squeeze in by the end of 2013.
In addition to the next two novels from my regular line, I’m hoping to start work on a YA line of books featuring some of the young adults from my current novels.
The final project I’m hoping to see progress on in 2013 is the novella I’m co-authoring with Sylvain Reynard, Twitter War. While that project is a lot of fun, it’s also at the mercy of two hectic schedules, so I have no idea when it will be completed!
Rapid Fire questions :
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, coffee, coffee… there’s a reason 90% of my leading characters are addicted to coffee.
Pens or pencils?
It’s so hard to choose – I love both! If I have to pick one, then I’d say pencils, but only if we’re talking good mechanical pencils.
Dancing or running?
Dancing. Like Alex McAlister from Ring of Fire and Roses in Ecuador, I’m addicted to dancing. I think that’s why it shows up so often in my books!
Night owl or early bird?
Both. I have really weird sleeping patterns. I go through spells where I’m a total night owl and stay up most of the night working on books, blogs, what have you. Then other times, I’m crashed out by 9 and wide awake by 4:30 or 5 in the morning.
e-book or paperback?
E-book. I was a total hold out on the ebook because I love the feel of a book in my hands, but now that I have an ereader, I use it so much more often than I realized I would.
Your latest obsession?
Goats. I want so badly to have a smart, sexy or sassy answer here, but I have to be honest. I’ve wanted Nigerian Dwarf goats for years and I finally got some. They’re so stinking cute and sweet; I’m obsessed with them. I take hundreds of pictures of them. I could just sit and watch them play for hours. We’re up to four goats now and I’m planning on adding a few more in March. I’m having a playground built in their pasture, if that tells you anything about how stupid I’ve gone over my goats.
Thanks so much to the lovely Heather Huffman for this interview! I can’t wait for Fool’s Game and of course Twitter War! Go check out “Roses in Ecuador. It’s a story that will stay with you.
Coming up : A great giveaway! Don’t miss it!